Love, love, LOVE MovieTalk!!

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I used Movie Talk to show a videoclip suggested in the Teacher’s Guide of Houdini Chapter 5 with my Spanish 2’s today.

IT WAS AWESOME!! I need to do MovieTalk at least once a week. It took us 35 minutes to talk through a 3 minute clip, including re-watching it straight through at the end. I muted it and paused it every five seconds or so to talk about everything that could be observed on the screen, and once we worked through it I turned the volume on and we watched it in its entirety.

I love this technique because it exposes my students to tons of vocabulary that we would NEVER study in my class otherwise because it’s not high frequency and so it doesn’t take priority. Today, my kids heard many repetitions and left being able to interpret words like hose, sink, bathtub, towel, carwash, dryer, shadow, tears, stool, etc. The great thing is that there is no expectation for them to learn the words, but each student will remember words that stood out to them for whatever reason. I was thinking about this earlier this week, actually, when I realized that my 14 month old knows what “brush your teeth” means. He only says about five very simple words (mama, dada, ball, dog, book), so there is no reason for him to understand a phrasal verb like that, but he LOVES brushing his teeth. If we are in the kitchen and I say, “Go brush your teeth”, he runs to the bathroom and points at his toothbrush on the counter. Moral of the story being that kids are going to learn the vocabulary that is meaningful to them most easily. MovieTalk is a great way to expose them to loads of vocabulary in a no-pressure situation, and they will remember those words that are meaningful to them (presumably, words for which they have a use in their own lives!).

The strategies that I used to keep the kids engaged are the same ones that CI teachers use when interpreting any text: asking questions and personalizing the information. You can ask circling questions about the obvious (The car is blue. Is the car blue or is the face blue?) or ask inferential questions (Why is he bald? What does she say to the man?). To personalize the information, connect what you’re describing on the screen with students in the class (He’s wearing shorts. Who in the class is wearing shorts? Why is (student) wearing shorts in the middle of winter??). I try to not let the discussions get too long before bringing them back to the movie clip.

If you haven’t yet tried MovieTalk or want to learn more about it, I suggest visiting Michele’s blog. She has some great posts that include links to good material.

5 comments

  1. I am not familiar with all the details of the technique but it sounds a lot like what I have been doing with some videos. You may enjoy checking out in you tube “funny larvas” a couple of mischievous larvae that always get in trouble and are fantastic for this kind of activity: my students beg for them! I use it as a general review or as a plan B. For my lower elementary classes is a great way to still have lots of input without having to actually write a story.

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  2. I’m not sure I understand how to get to this website. I googled “movie talk” and got several links to places that talk about movies (in English). Are the movies in Spanish? Or are they movies without words? A little help, please 🙂

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    1. Here are Michele’s MovieTalk archives: http://mjtprs.wordpress.com/category/movietalk/ You can use ANY movie; Spanish, English, or silent. You simply mute the movie (if there is dialogue) and describe what you see on the screen. Whatever you use should be something that can be understood WITHOUT hearing the dialogue: so very image-heavy. Kid’s cartoons work really well, and silent films are great. Since you are pointing to things as you describe them, the majority of what you are saying is comprehensible even if it is new vocabulary. Again, read through those archives for more info.

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  3. Hello from Maine, Martina! I wrote a very long post the other day to you and then somehow lost it in attempting to post it. I too, am finding MovieTalk (thanks, Michele!) to be a powerful CI tool. I am finishing “The Lion King” with my seventh and eighth graders. It is taken me a little over a month to do the whole movie (interspersed with other things). Here is a brief list of what I have learned:

    1. If is challenging at first how to decide what to talk about in a segment. Again I try to focus on high frequency structures and not get lost in the details.

    2. This is perhaps one of the greatest ways to differentiate in your classroom. In addition to your basic structures, students pick up a ton of new vocabulary that is meaningful to them. There are lots of ways to incorporate story activities after viewing segments. The way you get reps may be different than in a “classic” three-structure TPRS story, but you do get them in. A few formative assessments will tell you how well the students are picking up the structures and vocab.

    3. I know I have to work on technique.

    4. It takes repeating several times to the students that we are watching the movie to learn the target language. My students often see a movie as “down time”.

    5. I chose The Lion King because most of my students were familiar with it and I thought knowing the story line would help me in getting my feet wet in this new technique. I have done the commercial in Dr. Hastings’ presentation in my sixth grade French and Spanish classes and am currently working on “Dug’s Special Mission” (a short film that relates to the movie “UP”).

    6. The students, of course, are suggesting all sorts of films we should do next. I am looking for a more authentic clip for them. Maybe a segment of “Le petit Nicolas” animation, Babar, or maybe I will tackle the Tin-Tin movie. Any suggestions?

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  4. Hi Martina! I like the idea of MovieTalk but haven’t tried it yet. I also read Michelle’s blog about it but I need to re-read it. I’m wondering about what types of activities and assessments you do after a MovieTalk – or do you do the MovieTalk in correlation to a story (like the MovieTalk is another way to get in the reps, but you also do a story with subsequent activities)? I guess I’m still a little confused by that.

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