Movie Talk

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7 thoughts on “Movie Talk”

  1. I do not think I agree with his reason for why more people aren’t using full length movies. I would say reasons I do not do it much include that it is intimidating because of the length, intimidating because I feel unrefined, and because I want to vary activities in class more.

  2. I’m so glad I caught this, Diane. I too prefer using full length films, though I work with intermediate and advanced students more than with beginners. There was an article on Very Narrow Listening in the recent iJFLT. One wonderful thing that happens when you don’t target grammar is that students pick up and acquire amazing things, simply because context gives meaning and a good film furnishes memorable emotions that reinforce the acquisition.
    In Shawshank Redemption there is the scene where his friends learn of Brooks’ death. Red says, “He should have died in here.” My students were totally absorbed in the moment and one of them said, “Il aurait du mourir ici.” I would never have targeted the “should have” structure, but from that day on we never had any problems with it.

    1. I thought that was a great article, Judy!
      I use short videos with all levels, but full films with year 3 & 4. I think it’s great. I’ve done MovieTalk style — not depending much on the original dialogue or soundtrack. This year, I am going to add some of Judy’s approach to some key scenes & have them really understand the original soundtrack in a couple of places.

  3. I have a problem finding films that are authentic and are spoken in Spanish with accurate Spanish subtitles. Many times the dubbed voices for american films aside from being awful, don’t work from the same script. I don’t know why they wouldn’t dub a word for word translation of the screenplay. Very frustrating. I would take bites of a movie. Break down each scene so you can design target structures around it? There’s one in Spanish: Los colores de la montaña that lends itself very well to this kind of approach. There’s a complete fade out from one scene to the next

    1. Craig, Dr. Hastings spoke with our group about MT. He didn’t recommend using subtitles in the original purpose of MT, which is to raise students up to Intermediate Mid in listening proficiency. He told us that using subtitles distracts from the purpose of providing oral input.
      You’re probably talking about using it with higher level though.
      And I have the same trouble in Russian. I’m beginning to think that they do put in the screenplay, and the actors mess around with it.
      And I also disagree with the reasons for not using full-length films. My students just can’t put up with the extended time it takes to MT a full film. Dr. Hastings had three-hour classes with his students, so it was easier; he could probably get through about an hour of movie in those three hours.

      1. I spend one class period per week on the actual movie — rest of the time that week is working in some new vocab (which will come up in the section of film we see that week) and then reading stuff. Most weeks, only one or at most 2 days is directly about the film. Mostly we are making up our own stuff.
        So a film takes about 6 or 7 weeks. It keeps my students wanting more of the movie. They don’t forget, it doesn’t seem to me. Perhaps if it were 6 or 7 days in a row, they wouldn’t feel the same way about it?
        I started my new level 4 group last year with MovieTalk because I was pretty sure they’d have a fair amount memorized vocab (since they made it to fourth year) but low listening skill. That was about right for all but one of them, who still benefitted greatly (and possibly picked up some new stuff). Most of them were hearing a lot of whole language for the first time in class, and it was obviously beneficial. I also found out, roughly, what they knew or didn’t, so I could be more comprehensible in general. Somehow they were willing to tell me if they didn’t understand during the movie in a way they weren’t always in other class times.
        So… I’m really sold on this, obviously. I think most people just don’t even know about the possibility. That was definitely true among Chinese teachers when I shared the idea last month. They did show movies – with English subtitles every time.

  4. I once talked to a girl who wrote the subtitles for films. She explained that a technician would tell her how many characters she could use in a screenshot. And she had to respect that limit, whatever was said. So she often had to take shortcuts to get the meaning on the screen. And actors and directors do sometimes take liberties with the official script that you can find published on line. Something that my advanced students enjoy doing is looking at the subtitles and picking out the differences between what is written and what they hear.
    A way to use subtitles in the target language and be sure that your students are listening to the audio is to use cloze scripts. I’ve explained this on my blog. Dr. Krashen has kindly given me permission to call it Very Narrow Listening. The trick is to make the blanks that they have to fill in high frequency words that you are sure they have already acquired. So they are listening to the sound track over and over again (they are the ones begging you to play it one more time) and getting all that comprehensible input. A three minute scene can take an hour this way. When I do a movie with my students, it takes weeks and weeks, like Diane, but we do a little every lesson. Who needs textbooks?

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