Friday, March 6, 2009

Using Movies and Movie Clips in the Classroom

This post is a very slight modification of a post by Larry M. Lynch entitled Movies and Videos in the EFL Classroom (I Changed EFL to FL and English Language to Foreign Language. Other than that, the work is his.

If you're looking to expand the role of movies and videos in your FL classroom, what better way to expand the learners' communicative skills, grammar and vocabulary than by using clips from popular movies? Try using these seven tips for stimulating learner motivation while enjoying a favored pastime of children and adults alike, watching short scenes or clips from popular movies.

1. Use pre-viewing activities

Before the video, warm up your learners to the theme and grammar using pre-viewing activities. A variety of these might include puzzles, photos and images, short games like "concentration" or TPR activities, a story or anecdote, or activating the schema of the learners' in a number of other ways.

2. Have learners complete a chart while viewing

While they are watching a short video or movie segment you might have the learners fill in key information in a chart. Items like names of characters, occupations, family relationships, clothing and settings can be easily recorded this way. This allows the learners to focus more on the communicative aspects and less on actually writing.

3. Select a grammar point repeatedly demonstrated in the movie clip

There's no need to leave grammar out of a video-based lesson or stage. If a useable grammar point or structure is repeated or prominent during the movie clip you plan to use, all the better. Just remember to pre-teach that grammar or structural element, even a class or two before the video, so that it will be recognizable in context.

4. Have a list of six to eight lexis

Select a list of from six to eight or ten vocabulary words, idioms and expressions from the movie clip or video you plan to use. Pre-teach these during the pre-viewing stage of the lesson. When the learners then hear them used in context during the video viewing session, the lexis will have added impact.

5. Make use of visual input

A popular movie clip is an audio-visual experience, so use it as such. While learners are watching and listening for general and detailed spoken information, include visual aspects for them to skim and scan for as well. How many? How much? When? Where? Who? How and why are good starters for capturing visually-presented information from the movie clip or video segment.

6. Allow learners to select their preferred movie clip

It can be quite a dilemma. There you have perhaps two or three or more movies from which to choose, but you're not sure which your learners would prefer. So I have an idea, do you choose, let them do it. Take three movies for example, show the learners only the first five minutes of each, and then let them choose which they'd like to work with. If you have a clip in mind from each of the movies, show each clip and give them a choice. You can work up your activities and lesson stage plans confident in having your learners' interest and motivation.

7. For post-viewing discussion:

If not addressed during pre-viewing activities, now is the time to talk about favorite actors, actresses, similar plots and stories from other movies, and what might be different or better outcomes for what as seen. Stage re-enactments, altered dialogues and plot twists your learners might come up with. Be imaginative, be creative, be bold or even funny, but get them communicating about their experience.

Prepare a Worksheet

You can prepare a one or two page worksheet to be photocopied and used by the learners for the video session. Alternatively, learners can copy the format into their notebooks. Just be sure to plan your pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing activities well and your foreign language video clip-based lesson is sure to be an award-winner.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blogging for your class

As I see it, there are at least two ways to use a blog for your class. One is that you as a teacher write a blog using the target language to do so. The students read it, and since it is a class, you could tell them that they must comment on it. You could then grade the comments. The second way to use a blog is to set it up as a multi-administrator blog, giving your students the rights to "publish" on the class blog. Here is an example from a non-language class. This way the students can each be posting an "article" each week as a blog post that collectively shows an area of expertise to the outside world. This would work very well in a literature class that is covering one author/literary movement/country or in a Civilization and Culture class. As the students post and then critique each other, they will all learn corporately rather than just handing in a paper for you to grade while no one else gets the benefit of their research. Simply the fact that it is a blog rather than a research paper will add to the enjoyment factor on the part of the students as well as lower the effective filter. It also helps prepare those who are not using the blogworld to enter into the new era's flow of information.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Immersion Weekend or Party

Here are some ideas for creating an immersion weekend or party. Things you will need are a movie in the target language and/or a TV connection, It might be good to put together a newspaper or magazine for the event in the target language. Get games to be played in the target language. Depending on skill level of students, games with more or less conversation are appropriate. Getting a few volunteers who are native speakers of the target language to help out and interact with the students is always a plus! When you get your ideas and budget together, have your students over for a party! Or if you are adventurous, go for a weekend camp experience. One rule is that everything must be done in the target language. I haven't done the camp personally, but I have done immersion parties, and the students have a great time! One key is to make sure that there are native speakers there to help set the tone. Just having the TV or radio in the background playing in the target language also helps.

Ser V. Estar (Specific for Spanish Teachers)

This one is quick. Just a mnemonic device to help your students remember Ser and Estar.

Ser - POP

Estar - TLC

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grammar lessons on the board.

You probably looked at that post and thought, (((What is so fun about that!?))) Here is an idea I have used to teach grammar for years; the students love it and they learn a lot! I put one sentence on the board. (In the target language of course.) Then I hand a marker to the first kid. He/she writes the second sentence and then hands the marker off. The story will twist and turn with students giving each other ideas and wondering if they made mistakes. I assure them that we will correct the mistakes later so they don't take to much time in the writing process. When they are done with the story, I take out a different color marker and we go through the whole thing as a group. They help me find all the errors. There is usually plenty of laughter as the whole convoluted story is corrected. I usually hear laughter about the story for the next few days in the halls. (Like when the principal of the school got caught smoking pot with an alien who landed on the football field...stories like that.) Enjoy teaching grammar! It will keep you on your toes!

Monday, March 2, 2009

You Tube Lessons...

Here is an assignment that my kids had a lot of fun with. The assignment was to find a video of something that showed culture in a specific region of Spain. The class was on Civilization and Culture of Spain, and each student was put in a group and assigned one of the regions of Spain. When they came to class, I had a laptop with a projector set up in the class. Each student then put in their video link and then after showing the video, explained how it related to the region they had been assigned. This of course was all done in the target language. Just an example from the group that had Catalonia as their region. I will say that having open ended assignments like this, though scary from the teacher's point of view have been incredibly rewarding! I often feel like I learn more from my students on these days than I ever teach them!

Technology ideas for your Foreign language classroom

Today's link is: This site has television and radio from around the world and is sortable by language or country. So how do you use something like this as a classroom assignment? Here is one I have done with great success.
1. Students watch 1/2 hour news loop from news station in target language. (Check out Medinalia or other online TV providers for news stations in your target language.)
2. Students choose something from the broadcast that interested them.
3. Students look up article on that subject in target language newspapers.
4. Students come to class and give 1-2 minute presentation on what they saw, what the news article said, and if the two sources of information varied in content or bias.

Assignment can be adjusted for multiple levels of students.