EduNovela in the L2 Spanish Classroom

By Maria Slusarek, Ph.D. Student, University of Iowa

Maria Slusarek

Introduction

The world language classroom commonly uses videos as a way to foster an engaging, authentic and culturally centered language learning experience for students. EduNovela provides a unique 1:1 experience for Spanish classroom teachers and students that combines popular television series with language learning support to create a comprehensible, accessible, and fully online learning experience for all students. The license includes more than 200 fully customizable worksheets and printables for instructors. 

What is EduNovela?

EduNovela is a company that provides Spanish language classrooms an interactive television series platform that can be your main core tool or a supplement. EduNovela uses complete, yet condensed storylines from popular television series such as Silvana sin lana (Basic Spanish), El tiempo entre costuras (Intermediate), and Gran Hotel (AP or Advanced).  EduNovela chunks each episode into 3-5 minute segments, which creates space for students to follow the plot and characters without feeling overwhelmed by input. 

Students register for each television series separately. Once they register, they receive access to every episode within the series for the entirety of the course term. Each series includes 42 condensed episodes that are taken from the entire series from start to finish, from 80-120 hours of storyline. Silvana sin lana is available in two different basic Spanish versions, one for high school and the other for college courses. All the content in each television series has been adapted for educational purposes. This includes editing out violence and nudity. Free sample episodes are available on EduNovela’s home website. The free episodes showcase the student user experience that they receive when they register for the entire series. 

EduNovela content creators apply a variety of second language acquisition theories to their practices. The use of authentic video has been empirically found to positively impact reading, speaking, and listening comprehension (Weyers, 1999; Cristina Pardo-Ballester, 2012), cultural competence (Herron, Corrie, Cole & Dubriel, 1999), grammar understanding, and advanced language proficiency (Ramsay, 1991; Rifkin, 2000, as cited in  Shrum, J. L., & Glisan, 2015). 

Basic Information

Name of tool EduNovela
URL Home Page: 

Free sample episodes: 

Primary purpose of tool Provides Spanish language and heritage learners from high school to college a multimedia learning experience through authentic television series. 
Cost High School students: $19; College students: $32; Independent home user: $39.99. All fees are per user for 1 academic term. Minimum of 10 users per series for school accounts.
Ease of Use Easy to use for students and instructors. Easy log in and access to all the tools, episodes and resources available. 

Key Components of the Program

Television Series

EduNovela adapted three popular, modern series to provide an abridged version of three modern television series: Silvana sin lana, El tiempo entre costuras, and Gran Hotel. Each series captivates student interest through drama, characters, plot, and cinematic effects. EduNovela segments each episode to create a comprehensible learning experience for students that stays true to the main plot of the story, while ensuring that all the content is appropriate for any educational setting. 

Picture 1 - The student view interface of Silvana sin lana, Episode 1. A pre-reading activity is above the episode segments with a small explanation in English. On the right, other tools include a quiz, class connection, contact information, and character descriptions.
Picture 1 – The student view interface of Silvana sin lana, Episode 1. A pre-reading activity is above the episode segments with a small explanation in English. On the right, other tools include a quiz, class connection, contact information, and character descriptions.

The Student Experience

Students experience authentic resources within engaging dramas that they truly enjoy, while building their comprehension of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture. The user-friendly experience virtually eliminates the frustrations caused by most new technology tools. Students can focus their time, effort and attention on the episode, instead of on navigating the technology. 

Autonomy is at the center of the EduNovela platform. With a variety of learning tools available, such as Spanish-only subtitles, adjusted audio speeds, vocabulary lists, and pre- reading activities, each student can create an automatically differentiated experience that fits their individual proficiency level. The sense of success students feel at the end of each episode fosters a sense of lifelong learning and motivation to use the language outside the classroom. 

Picture 2 - The student view of more resources to help comprehend Silvana sin lana, Episode 1. Specific vocabulary related to the episode is listed and highlighted within the paragraph summary to show the words used in context. The embedded video narrates the synopsis in Spanish, with adjustable playback speed.
Picture 2 – The student view of more resources to help comprehend Silvana sin lana, Episode 1. Specific vocabulary related to the episode is listed and highlighted within the paragraph summary to show the words used in context. The embedded video narrates the synopsis in Spanish, with adjustable playback speed.

The Instructor Experience

Instructors can easily use EduNovela at any level of Spanish as either a supplement or full curriculum. Instructors do not have to be technology gurus in order to introduce this program to their students. The EduNovela support team responds quickly and effectively with a variety of technology troubleshooting tips and instructional videos. 

Inside EduNovela, instructors have access to over 200 ready-to-use materials in their classroom. El salón de los profesores is a goldmine for worksheets, printouts, games and grammar guides for all levels of Spanish. Every document is either in a Word or PDF format for easy access and modification to fit your teaching style. 

Also, the built-in gradebook helps instructors track student progress, check for comprehension and create accountability. Each episode includes a comprehension check quiz that connects to the electronic gradebook inside EduNovela. However, while the application can be used inside learning management systems as an external tool, it currently cannot connect automatically to an institution’s gradebook. 

Language Learning Supports

The technology tools embedded within the program help all students grow in language proficiency. Spanish-only subtitles and adjustable audio speeds are two of the most commonly-used features. They automatically start at the beginning of each episode segment, and adjust to the various playback speeds chosen by the student.

Vocabulary lists are presented alongside the episode segment with both English and Spanish translations. These vocabulary words are also highlighted in the subtitles to alert the students to unfamiliar terms. Students are in complete control of the experience and can pause, rewind, and review the episode to better understand the vocabulary in context. There is a pre-reading section to give users a front-loaded idea of what they will see, plus expanded vocabulary lists and audio narration. These supports help students create background knowledge that will assist overall comprehension of each episode they view. Afterwards, this vocabulary will help them storytell in the target language during class.

Picture 3 - Inside the episode segment is the video with subtitles in Spanish, a synopsis in English, and targeted vocabulary on the right. The bottom “show comprehension” button is a one question quiz link that students can take to self-assess their understanding of the segment.
Picture 3 – Inside the episode segment is the video with subtitles in Spanish, a synopsis in English, and targeted vocabulary on the right. The bottom “show comprehension” button is a one question quiz link that students can take to self-assess their understanding of the segment.

EduNovela at Western Technical College

I am currently the Spanish II instructor at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I’ve been with the college since 2016 and have been teaching online since the beginning. When I first started, I wanted to create a language learning experience for my students that was equitable, accessible, engaging, and culturally-centered. When I came across EduNovela, I knew this would be a perfect fit for my teaching philosophy and as a main tool for the curriculum. I first used Silvana Sin Lana in my Spanish I course, and later adopted Gran Hotel for Spanish II. 

The students at Western Technical College enter the Spanish classroom with a wide variety of previous language learning experiences, motivations, and learning strengths. EduNovela allowed each individual student to create their own language learning experience based on their unique needs. Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They enjoy the drama of the series and can relate to many of the characters. The most commonly-used learning supports include adjusted playback speeds, subtitles, and comprehension checks. Many students have shared with me that they continue watching the episodes until well past the end of the academic term, and ask me for additional resources so they can continue watching or learning in this way. 

Each semester I use more resources within el salón de profesores. With over 200 resources available for each television series, I create a student-centered and autonomous learning environment by providing students choice for how they demonstrate understanding of the episodes. The activity resource library includes worksheets, activities, and Flipgrid prompts to facilitate all three modes of communication, as well as culture. EduNovela has decreased my prep time, while maximizing students’ classroom time through the variety of engaging activities that promote linguistic and cultural growth. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Western Technical College put students first by increasing the college’s transparency of trauma-informed and accessible practices. Thankfully, EduNovela was able to help me provide a safe, engaging, and accessible language learning experience for my students. I also knew that students’ time and priorities greatly shifted; therefore, I wanted to capitalize on every minute the students entered the online classroom. EduNovela created that fun, low-stakes environment where they could feel successful. 

The financial burden caused by the pandemic creates a great obstacle for many of our students. EduNovela’s already low prices and relationship with our bookstore was a phenomenal asset to our students because they were able to use their financial aid to purchase registration codes. Without the collaboration between EduNovela and our bookstore, access to language learning would be more of a barrier for many of my students. 

Conclusion

EduNovela is a curriculum staple for Western Technical College’s Spanish I and II online classrooms. The company’s dedication to research-based practices, student-centered engagement, and access to authentic language in context allows students to grow in their language and cultural proficiencies. The user-friendly interface decreases the technology learning curve for both students and teachers, which allows for maximized engagement with the television series. Students of any age will enjoy the drama, suspense, and humor embedded within each episode, while also growing in success and confidence in their own language abilities. The affordability and accessibility decreases barriers and increases opportunity to learn language.

References

Herron, C., Cole, S. P., Corrie, C., & Dubreil, S. (1999). The effectiveness of a video-based curriculum in teaching culture. The Modern Language Journal, 83(4), 518–533. https://doi.org/10.1111/0026-7902.00038

Pardo-Ballester, C. (2012). CALL Evaluation: Students’ Perception and Use of LoMásTv. CALICO Journal, 29(3), 532–547.

Prieto Botana, G., Goering, K., & Simpson, S. (2018). Online Teacher & Curriculum Guide, EduNovela.com’s Gran Hotel [Google Document]. TreeFrog Publishing LLC.

Shrum, J. L., & Glisan, E. W. (2015). Teacher’s Handbook: Contextualized Language Instruction. (Fifth edition). Heinle Cengage Learning.

Weyers, J. R. (1999). The effect of authentic video on communicative competence. The Modern Language Journal, 83(3), 339–349. https://doi.org/10.1111/0026-7902.00026

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