INTRODUCTION Given the role that the media playsin our present days; English as a foreign language has become a very demanding means ofcommunication, since it reflects the core of this media. Therefore, it islogical to presume that the average individual, not to bring up the EFLlearner, is getting exposed to a fair amount of English language through thismedia, incidentally or deliberately. Depending on this fact, this average learner is expected to acquiresome aspects of the language consciously or subconsciously. Apparently, themedia has offered the learners an authentic environment to perceive and tolearn the language in its genuine form.
In accordance, the subject has drawnthe scholars’ attention, prompting them to explore the media’s impact on theaudience in general and leading them to relate the outcomes to the hypothesesof the second language acquisition. According to (Chomsky, 1975; Haliday, 1975)language acquisition has been identified as a subconscious procedure thatoccurs informally in the context of functional language use. Krashen (1982;1985) stated that a subconscious process takes a place when a person isacquiring competence in a second language.
This contributes to the fact that itis possible for the EFL learner to acquire language by being exposed to themedia without being aware of that fact. Furthermore, it is significant tomention the positive influence that the media has on the learner, For example:watching movies may encourage learner’s motivation to pursue and to succeed through the learning process, consequently, thiscan help in reducing the “affective filter” that prevents the learners fromhaving the most of what they receive. The former supposition has been argued by(Krashen, 1985) who suggests that, fearing failure, some individuals may elevatean “affective filter” as a defense system which prevents them from employingthe input they might perceive for language acquisition. However, in order tolower this filter, Krashen proposes that the language programs should bemotivating, non- evaluating and structured to embrace them in ways that causethem to temporarily forget that they are reading or hearing another language. Nevertheless, researchesregarding this topic are not sufficient to rely on, especially in the MiddleEast region, despite the fact that this spot of the world is the most places to beexposed to the English language. The advent of the Internet and moderntechnology has contributed to the rapid spread of English, especially in MiddleEastern societies, which are in constant contact with the West. Obviously,the geopolitical importance of these societies has provided the region with avital role in the world urging its inhabitants to acquire English two times higherthan the average. Considering theprevious, I was prompted to choose this topic to discuss it because I am one ofthose who acquired language through the media in several ways.
For that reason, It is interesting to investigate sucheffects on the perceivers; sharing their opinions on whether they believe it isbeneficial to learn English through the media and to what extent do they thinkit is useful. LITERATURE REVIEWIthas been agreed on by the scholars that technology is of an extreme importancenowadays, since it contributes in bridging the gap between the world’s nations;in line with that, they emphasized the importance of it in learning and taking onany form of foreign language. In that context, linguists recommend theintegration of technology in the education system and praise its part in spreadingthe language outside the classroom. Moreover, technology represented by themedia has offered the learners the authentic surroundings to acquire the actualform of language as was said before. Gass (1997) argues that languageacquisition simply cannot take place in a vacuum without considering havingexposure to some sort of language input. Clearly, new technologies like the TVand the internet have their own share in encouraging the learners to watch andto acquire the language.
Meinhof (1998)and Moores (1996) indicate that Digital television, available via cable andsatellite, adds a new dimension to learning from the TV by multiplying availablechannels. Needless to say, the informal setting has sometimes a much moreimportant role in acquiring language the way (Lightbown and Spada, 2001) states;in informal language learning setting, language learners either interact withnative speakers in the target language’s country, or use different technologiesat home or at work, watch a movie, or listen to music or songs, just as anentertainment, which can lead to language learning. Regarding this, watchingmovies, whether through the internet or the TV can enhance the learner’sreceptive and productive skills. B. Neuman (1992) believes that captionedmovies might benefit bilingual learners for various reasons, one of them is thecombination of picture and sounds that the learners perceive, which mightassist them in making a relationship between words and the meanings. Blosser(1998) agrees on what B.
Neuman says when announcing a positive relationshipbetween television watching and reading comprehension results for Hispanicstudents. In addition, (Koskinnen, Wilson and Gambreel; 1987) finds asignificant improvement in word recognition and oral reading for students whowatch captioned movies. Rahmatian and Armiun (2011), conduct a study on 44adult learners split into two groups (“Audio” group and “Video” group), intentwhich type of document could improve the listening comprehension skill to agreater extent. However, by comparing the average attained by the twogroups, the final result shows that the “Video” group obtained a better resultby 6%. Concerning other skills such aslisting and speaking, Terrell (1993) explains that listing skills gained byusing video materials provide the learners with an experience that cannot duplicatein traditional classrooms limited to instructors or students’ interactions. JosephR. Weyers (1999) conducts a study with an authentic soap opera to gauge if itcan foster learners’ comprehension and their oral skills; in that respect, he divideshis learners into two groups: experimental and controlled group.
The experimentwas carried on in two second-semester Spanish classes for 8 weeks at theUniversity of New Mexico. All students had pre- and post-treatment tests. Nevertheless,the experimental group watched two episodes of a Spanish soap opera per week.Before viewing each episode, the teacher gave the participants a short summaryin English of the telenovela. At the end of the study, the outcomes ofthe experiment indicate that the soap opera is a very beneficial to thelearners’ listening comprehension. D’Ydewalle and Pavakanun (1996), likely,run a study in which 74 Dutch-speakinghigh school students in Flanders with no sort of feedback of Spanish language wererandomly assigned to nine groups that each view a different version of ananimated movie including Spanish, Dutch or an absent audio channels includingSpanish, Dutch or absent subtitles. Instantly, after watching the film, the studentswere given a test of Spanish vocabulary.
The participants who watched the versionscontaining Spanish subtitles and Dutch audio utter significantly better thanthe ones who did not. A similar experiment with learners of a secondaryschool level found a reasonable effect of watching television on grammar andgreater effect on vocabulary acquisition (d’Ydewall and Pavakanun, 1997). Twoadditional studies reported in (d’Ydewalle et al., 2006) emphasizing the incidentalgrammar acquisition by watching subtitled television and using Esperanto as aforeign language, did not find a significant result. Moreover, Koolstra and Beentjes (1999), split 246primary school children (fourth and sixth graders) into three groups. One watcheda Dutch-subtitled English language documentary twice, the second group watchedthat same documentary twice, but without the subtitles, and a third (controlledgroup) watched a Dutch televisionprogram without subtitles. Subsequently, all participants were subjected to avocabulary test of 35 English words that were used in the documentary. The learnerswho watched the subtitled version performed significantly better in the testthan the those who watched the non-subtitled version, who in turn performedsignificantly better than the subjects in the control group.
The sixth-gradersin this study also performed better than the fourth-graders, and pupils whoindicated that they frequently watched subtitled English television programs athome outperformed those with a low or medium frequency of watching subtitled programs. Speaking of the oral skills, beingexposed to an authentic input of a foreign language classes is significantbecause it is essential to the progress of the learners’ communicativecompetence (Baltova, 2000, Weyers, 1999). Moreover, movies provide the learners with the nativespeakers’ real dialect better than what can be taught in classrooms (Crowell& Au, 1981; Richardson & Scinicariello, 1989). Considering other skills,many researches have been applied to explore language, communication andculture in many different settings for various analytical purposes (e.g.,Carbaugh, 1990; Thomas, 1990; Martin, Nakayama & Flores, 1998; Di Luzio,Gor & Orletti, 2001).
According Sawyerand Smith (1994), “language and culture are related to one another”. Therefore,it is important to recognize the link between language and culture, the role ofculture in communication process and the significant relationship between themin enhancing the intercultural competence (Poyatos, 2002a). Clyne (1996) and LoBianco (2003) consider language as the most extensive manifestation of acivilization.
For each individual, their human value system, cultural andlinguistic patterns are structured both as a consequence of their primarysocialization within the household and community in addition to their interactions with the widergroups in which they participate. Actually, without pragmatic knowledge of thelanguage targeted and without having a background of how this language works,it is impossible for the learners to improve their communicative skills, evenif they own the sufficient vocabulary or the sufficient grammar input. Thus,without being exposed to any sort of authentic environment, learners are notexpected to improve their competence; and here comes the role of the media tooffer this authentic material to be benefiting from. However, it is important for thescholars to understand why this authentic environment is important and how doesit function. K. Rocque (1998) indicates that in order to capture how this inputbecomes intake; one should cover what the input is.
Input functions in two different dimensions,as verbal and non- verbal cues. Gestures, for instance, takes place along themajority of the communication between two individuals (Bacon, 1989). Input canbe unidirectional, such as when you are watching a movie or listening to aspeaker and it can be multidirectional, like when one speaks with anotherperson (Doughty & Long, 2003b; Swain & Madden, 1985).
Because thisinput differs from one setting to another the complexity also varies: forexample, notice that when two adults are communicating with one another theyuse different language that teenagers use. Evenly, it is critical to payattention to speech acts, like apologies, promising and making demands, etc.(Gass & Mackey, 2002).
In relation, it is important for the learner tocomprehend and finally produce all of these complex cues. Here, films functionas an authentic background that includes all these types of complexitiesstarting with register, speech acts, morphology, syntax and ending withphonology, pauses, and even occasional errors (Porter & Roberts, 1981).Authentic films are an encouraging source of input for several reasons, butmostly, because it is the only form of input that provides a real life example.(Altman, 1989; Garza, 1996; Kramsch, 1993; Lonergan, 1984). Krashen (1991)illustrates the relationship between receptive skills and productive skillsthrough his input/output hypothesis; he explains that input will gradually becomea good intake depending on the quality and the quantity of this comprehensibleinput. Aboveall that, it is important to observe the entertainment part that such amaterial offers which soften the learning process.
Movies in general catch thelearners’ attention; heading towards loweringthe anxiety of learning by reducing the “affective filter” of the learner.Overall, Films can be better than otherinstructional media for connecting one idea to another, for constructingcontinuity of thought, and for creating dramatic impact.