St. Stephen’s new Spanish language instructor Ann Befroy, Ph.D., recently asked her students to collaborate on a playful class project designed to help build and strengthen their vocabulary skills. Her students scripted and produced a video of their own Spanish-language soap opera, known as a telenovela.
“This was meant to be a communicative exercise using present-tense verbs and new vocabulary that students had studied in a chapter on personal relationships,” Befroy explained. “Using new vocabulary and idiomatic expression is the best way to really learn it.”
While working remotely, Befroy separated student groups in virtual breakout rooms on Zoom to write a script for their video scenes. For homework, the groups filmed and edited their scenes. “The students adapted brilliantly,” she said of their remote collaborations. “The resulting videos, which we watched in class the next day, demonstrated students had good mastery of the material covered and completed the work with a terrific sense of humor. Some even recreated typical family arguments, such as who gets control of the TV remote.
“While the students’ Spanish proficiency clearly improved, the most tangible benefit of this project was that students got to collaborate,” Befroy noted. “Immediately upon completion of the project, they were quick to praise the format of the assignment. They clearly miss working with their peers, so I am pleased we found a way to accomplish this using technology. There will definitely be more group projects to come!”