Enhancing EFL learners’ intracultural development as cultural communicators through YouTube video-making

Helen Caldwell

Helen Caldwell

Professsors Shih-hsien and Yang Hui-Chin Yeh share an introduction to their recently published article in the TPEA journal.

Intracultural learning, building knowledge about one’s native culture, is a fundamental component in developing foreign language (FL) learners’ intercultural communicative competence because students can explore the essence of the thoughts of their own cultures and then refine their beliefs and behaviors (Guth & Helm, 2010) through the process of exploration. In this process, students will not only understand their own cultures but they will also discover the similarities and differences between their native and target cultures, which will increase their understanding of their target language as well as its people and decrease their misunderstandings of the respective cultures.

 

However, cultural issues are often neglected in Taiwanese English classrooms where English serves as a foreign language (FL). The score-oriented language instruction has dominated most Taiwanese English classrooms in which both teachers and students emphasize linguistic performance (i.e. reading and writing) and neglect the importance of non-linguistic skills (i.e. intracultural ability). Thus, cultural contents in textbooks are presented as a static body of factual knowledge to be memorized, rather than as a dynamic aspect of life worthy of critical reflection and engagement and a vital component of language skills (Shin et al., 2011). These artificial presentations of cultural knowledge in textbooks discourage language learners’ learning motivation, which further decreases their sensitivity to observe the similarities and differences between native and target cultures. To help FL students (i.e. English as a Foreign Language learners) become competent at intercultural communication, immersing them in real-life contexts through multi-semiotic production of their own cultures (Kristiawan, 2012) is a promising way of improving their understanding of native and target cultures.

This study tried to engage students in multimodal meaning-making by creating YouTube videos to enable them to gain and expand their intracultural knowledge and promote their culture to a global audience. 71 university students from a national university in central Taiwan participated in this 18-week study in which they completed their video-making concept-map worksheets, YouTube videos, reflective essays and final reflective oral presentations. The results revealed that making YouTube videos developed EFL university students’ intracultural understanding and their English proficiency. Specifically, YouTube video-making increased students’ learning autonomy to explore intracultural knowledge and further create meaningful contents for international viewers in their YouTube videos. This learning process not only enhanced students’ understanding of native cultures but also converted them from passive knowledge learners to active content creators. In order to make their YouTube videos creative and understandable, students interviewed local people to gain intracultural knowledge and international visitors to train intercultural competence. In addition, they searched for online resources and read bilingual materials to enrich their video contents. During this process, students found themselves more proficient in English, especially the development of vocabulary and speaking fluency and accuracy. This study, therefore, encourages EFL teachers to engage their students in cultural video-making to enhance their intracultural knowledge, which is a fundamental component of improving their intercultural communicative competence.

For full paper access, please visit https://doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2021.1925336

Paper citation:

Yang, S.-H., & Yeh, H.-C. (2021). Enhancing EFL learners’ intracultural development as

cultural communicators through YouTube video-making. Technology, Pedagogy and

Education, 1-16. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2021.1925336

Notes on contributors:

Hui-Chin Yeh

Shih-hsien Yang is a Professor in the Applied Foreign Languages Department at National Formosa University in Taiwan. He graduated from the Language Education Department at Indiana University -Bloomington. His research interests are computer-assisted language learning and teacher professional development.

Hui-Chin Yeh is currently a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Applied Foreign Languages and Associate Dean in College Humanities and Applied Science at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology in Taiwan. She received her PhD in Language Education at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research interests centre on EFL teacher education, computer-assisted language learning, and EFL reading and writing.