The Comprehensible Classroom

Dip your toes in CI: Try a MovieTalk

I’m guessing you’ve already dipped your toes in CI this year. Perhaps it was by Asking a Question or Reading a text with your students. Maybe you are waiting for me to take you by the hand and lead you down the steps into deeper waters of CI, or maybe you’re already swimming on your own. Or maybe the water was not welcoming and you have returned to the dry land of rote memorization and grammar practice.

Regardless of where you are at now, let’s go for a swim! I want to show you that CI is easy, fun, and effective!

MovieTalk is a method for providing an audience (students) with massive amounts of comprehensible input. It was developed by Dr. Ashley Hastings, and those of us in the world language teaching world can thank Michele Whaley for bringing it to the spotlight in 2012. MovieTalk is popular among teachers and students because it is FUN to watch short films together and it is EASY to execute.

I’ve written several tutorials about MovieTalk in the past, and so I won’t waste my time writing it all out again. Not that it’s difficult—I mean, you literally push “play”, push “pause”, describe everything that is visible, and then push “play” again until it’s time to “pause” once more. Shoot! There I go writing a tutorial again.  Please click here to read a detailed explanation of MovieTalk. After you read that post, please click here to see how I combine MovieTalk with other activities to create a lesson.

Since this post is about dipping your toes in CI and you, my dear reader, are likely new to this whole CI thing, I recommend looking for short films to MovieTalk that are VERY short. Look for clips that are 2 minutes in length or shorter. Working with micro films at first will allow you to get a feel for pacing and for the kinds of things you want to say. Do you prefer to only describe what is visible on the screen? Do you prefer to ask your students comprehension questions? Personalized questions? Do you like discussing the film with your students in the target language as you go? All of these are personal preference, and your preference may vary depending on the film or the purposes for including it in your instruction.

If you have never tried MovieTalk before, I recommend starting with Wildebeest simply because it is VERY short, and there are limited objects and action to describe. Also because I have this pack of resources to support you as you extend the MovieTalk with additional activities.

After Wildebeest, I think that Simon’s Cat films make for a really great next step. Like Wildebeest, there are many Simon’s Cat clips that are very short (a few that are longer–stick to the short ones, though!) and easy to describe. Dustin Williamson has several resources for different Simon’s Cat films on his blog! I have just put together a script and slideshow reading with screenshots from “Let Me In!” to support you as you give MovieTalk a try. Click here to download them!


One tip that helps make MovieTalks easier for me in class is to slow down the speed of the video. This is really easy to do on YouTube, and it helps me to not have to move so quickly when I am pausing the video. It is easier to “catch” the image that I want to describe on the screen–helpful both in class and when taking screen shots to create slideshow readings. Depending on the pace of the action in the video, you might even be able to slow down the video to .25x and keep it running the entire time that you are describing the video, never having to pause it. Here’s how you do it:

First, click on the “Settings” icon (a little wheel next to the CC icon) and click on “speed” on the pop-up menu. Then, select a slower speed.

(This is a great trick for slowing down #authres videos that you want your students to listen to in class, too–it helps them to better understand authentic speech!)

Looking for more MovieTalk materials? Check out this collaborative database! It will give you enough materials to keep you MovieTalking all year long!

Much love,