Professor of Division of Undergraduate English Education
As non-face-to-face time has grown longer, and freedom of movement has been reduced, we gradually have become isolated and moved from participants and actors to observers and viewers without much knowledge. Space and social constraints remind me of the once popular TV drama, "Wise Cell Life". Even though we are not in the cell, we all need the strategies or friends for a wise non-face-to-face life. In my case, the best friends who stayed with me and comforted me were Netflix and YouTube.
Non-face-to-face life invited people to spend time watching videos on these platforms. As always, there are pros and cons. The videos give joy on the one hand but on the other they take away our precious time. So, it is time to decide whether to stay as viewers of YouTube and Netflix or to switch to active consumers?
People have perceived and realized many
things through their senses. We also know, by experience, that remembering with images is much more powerful and long lasting than reading. For example, when you remember your first love or some experience, you'll think of some sensory experiences like facial expressions, the atmosphere, lasting visuals, and feelings; rather than the words or stories. In this sense, Netflix and YouTube, which directly target our hearing and vision, can be useful learning aids. These two platforms appealing to our senses will be very helpful; especially when we want to improve English ability, upgrade our common sense, and translate information into action.
I started out by listening to YouTube during a long commute. I had nothing to do but listen to English while driving. I used to listen to a lot of EBS English conversation programs, but now I just listen to the sound of videos on YouTube.
Fortunately, YouTube, like a good and wise mother, reads books from Cinderella to Steve Job's speech. It is very kind and even fits my level and taste. What I should do is to choose a clip according to my needs and conditions. According to Steven Krashen's "The Power of Reading", 'reading provides basic
infrastructure such as vocabulary, expressions, English literacy that can be converted and expressed as speaking, listening and writing. If knowledge is 'input' and expression is 'output', reading books is the best way to improve English ability. Then is there any reason to stay away from YouTube, which always provides pre-read English books daily?
If YouTube is a kind mother, Netflix is an efficient tutor. Using laptops, tablets, and mobile phones, you can take individual lessons from the tutor without time and place constraints; especially if you're on a train or plane for a long time, it must be your favorite media platform.
To study English, I prefer Korean dramas with lots of episodes that run by season. Rather than English films with Korean subtitles, Korean dramas such as "Misaeng" with English subtitles are much more effective to study English. It contains lots of real situations that happen in this very society where we live. If you look at the scenes over and over again, you will get to know how a word or situation is interpreted, how it's rephrased if there's no appropriate word for it. In other words, it is a way to catch 'two rabbits': fun and practical gain..
Besides learning English, I used Netflix and YouTube for last semester's lecture on Pride and Prejudice. I watched films based on her novels: Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, and a biopic of Jane Austen, Becoming Jane. The three films were very helpful to understand the writer and her works, and the scenes in the film came to mind when reading the novel. I also get some help from YouTube. Anyway, for that class, I used Netflix first to get a rough overview, and then YouTube for specific information.
If you read philosophy or history books, you'd better to use YouTube first. With some information about a book, it will be easier to find partially related films on Netflix which provides vivid images about people, society, institutions, and culture of the time. If you are interested in Ilias or Odysseia, I am sure that the two media platforms will help you a lot. While films on Netflix appeal to the public as stories and images, the experts on YouTube distribute information and knowledge to viewers who search videos with purpose and intention. Therefore, using the two together is complementary. Even better, they work with wise algorithms, so you don't have to struggle to find the next video. After you watch a few videos to your liking, the algorithm will keep recommending videos that are to your interest. I hope you will find your own strategy and enjoy a wise, non-face-to-face life.