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The Power of Language

16.02.2012

The university year is about to commence. While preparing for classes, I’ve been revisiting some resources for my Communication and Information Management subject. Some of these resources are YouTube videos, selected because they complement weekly lecture topics. Being a visual and aural learner, I love it when lecturers and presenters use interesting pictures while they talk, even better when they include little videos or audio files, because these things make it easier for me to understand the topic and remember details. Naturally, my learning preference feeds into my teaching style as well, so I use stacks of images and try to cut down on text. Plus, speaking non-stop for 2 hours is taxing on the voice box, let alone tedious for the students, so breaking lectures up with other stuff is an absolute must.

Some people are quite content reading endless pages of text while others need illustrations to absorb information. I fall firmly into the latter category – give me a picture to accompany a piece of text and I’ll likely remember much more of what I’ve read than if I hadn’t seen the image. Which is ironic, really, because when I’m not teaching or digging, I’m writing. Most of the time, though, I write visually. That is, I predominantly write what I see in my head before giving consideration to anything else, including character emotion. I also read as if hearing the text aloud, which makes me a slow reader. And if I’m writing about ideas, I will usually include a picture or ten to accompany the text.

(Don’t fret, visual readers – videos are coming right up! In the meantime, here’s an image:

Still with me? Awesome.)

Often, if I’m reading a piece of writing that lacks physical or visual references, I need time to absorb the content. As a result, I tend to shy away from handing out large chunks of text to my students to read in class. Instead, I encourage a lot of group discussion, debate and other communication activities, such as Pictionary or Charades. (If they’re feeling brave, we do some theatre sports.) These games make great ice-breakers, and help set the tone for the semester. They also allow students to practise and develop their visual and kinesthetic language vocabulary. People often forget that images and movement are vital facets of communication, or else these skills are sidelined as being unimportant (just look at the subject hierarchy in schools – creative arts are at the bottom of the list, and dance is at the bottom of the creative arts’ list). By practising their visual and kinesthetic skills, students are reminded that, when it comes to communication, they need to think beyond printed words or text on a screen to get their message across.

Communication is really just people with different language and learning styles trying to negotiate these differences in ways that everyone can understand and follow, whether this be through words, pictures, movement, music or numbers. None is more important than the other, and all are crucial to communicating effectively.

So, without further ado, here’s a selection of YouTube videos that I’ll be showing my students this semester. They’re all about the power of language in its various forms. Enjoy!

 

Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn – with some additional body language:

 

Lopez Murphy: Publicidad – how turning words upside-down can change meaning with powerful results:

 

The Power of Words – this one comes with a tissue box warning:

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Indigo Spider permalink
    21.02.2012 11:06 AM

    I wish you were my linguistics professor when I was in college.

    • 21.02.2012 5:05 PM

      It certainly helps when the teaching style matches your learning style!

      Always good to hear from you, Indigo Spider.

  2. 21.02.2012 10:39 PM

    You’ve used some powerful words – and the right ones!

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