Are you media literate? When we hear the word literacy, generally our thoughts go to reading. But the idea of literacy encapsulates many different skills that we are now extending to many different areas. For example, you can have financial literacy, digital literacy, ethical literacy, computational literacy and yes media literacy (and the list goes on).
Essentially, when you have reached a level of proficiency in an area where you are able to decode, analyse, see patterns, and spot errors, you have become literate in that area. The trend to view literacy as skill that extends beyond reading is a fairly recent one. Not so long ago, before the web took off, the flow of information would generally come from what was deemed reliable sources. We got your history lesson from a history teacher and our news from a trusted news sources. We didn’t really have to question or doubt (perhaps we should have).
But now that information can come from anywhere, it has become increasingly important to be critical and analytical. In other words, we all have to have the instincts of an expert. Radio personality Jay Smooth has created a great YouTube series on probably the most important of the literacies: media literacy. See if you can scoop up some of the ideas he exposes and make a list of the tips he shares.
Let’s play the good and bad game…go through the list of words and say whether they are good or bad:
- Consuming media
- Influence of media
- Mass communication
- Social media
- Navigate media
The video: Introduction to Media Literacy by Jay Smooth
Smooth speaks very fast, and he goes very deep into ‘sociology speak’ so if you are working with lower intermediate students, I suggest you adjust the settings on YouTube to make the video slower and show the subtitles.
Also, I would stop the video at about 2 min (just after the definition of media literacy).
Doing this video requires a little teacher bravery, it’s fast and complex–but it’s also adult, current and intelligent. Remind your participants that the idea is to simply come away with the general concept, that they can deduce from context and perhaps try to recognize one or two new words.
- What is media? Make a list
- What is the difference between messages and effects?
- Go to 5:25 of the video, watch the texting example.
- Do you use emojis in your emails and texts? Do you have some signature emojis?
- Have you ever sent a message that was mis-interpreted?
This is a vocabulary dense lesson, but it is true to native speaking. I believe it is important to expose students to this so they can develop skills and tricks for when this happens to them in real life. But like I said, it takes a little teacher bravery…let me know how it goes.