Movie Talk – What Is It?

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15 thoughts on “Movie Talk – What Is It?”

  1. Thank you for condensing this material, Jody! The website about it is dense.

    My own prep has been less thorough or at all once than what is listed. I watched a Chinese movie myself, thought it would be a good one for the kids to see, and over 4 years have developed plans with it. The big points of prep, I think, are:
    – Be familiar with the movie, including where a scene breaks or wherever else you want to put a pause. (I think it’s critical to show it without comment once, then narrate that same segment.) I wrote down the times beforehand in a document and followed that as a guide.
    – Think through how you’d describe what’s on screen during that scene in language your students almost completely already have. You could write this down in advance if that helps you. I did for the first scene or two, then felt like I’d know what kinds of things to say. (In the past, I also had printed vocab lists for each student with words that I felt unable to avoid during the narration step, though the kids did not know them. I would pause and point so kids could see what that meant. I don’t know if I’ll do that next time.)
    – Think about some comprehension questions about the scene, focused on making sure students know what happened. You could write these down in advance. Not circling – brief. Truly a check of their comprehension and then moving on. These could be mixed into the narration but I always found myself needing to pause to ask questions. So each scene, maybe 2 or 3 questions, and choral answers were required.

    This time around I’m adding days between viewing portions of the movie to do some “processing” with the kids – TPRS-like new structures/vocab and reading and writing. I have not previously aimed at acquiring new vocab from MovieTalk but I’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping the film makes the words more compelling.

  2. MT is definitely different from what I was thinking it would be. I thought it was going to be like what my Spanish classes in Argentina did: we watched 2 movies during our 4 week course. As we watched, the professor would pause every 5-10 minutes and we’d have a discussion about what’s been going on in the movie and she pointed out typical Argentinian cultural elements in the film.

    They were some great movies, too. El Fondo del Mar, and Tiempo de Valientes

  3. I think the link to Jody’s description of MovieTalk is as Ashley Hastings intended. It was called the “narrative/paraphrase technique.” The term “MovieTalk” wasn’t coined until 2009.

    TPRS teachers take the concept of using a video and apply the TPRS 3-step process and all our comprehensible input-making strategies to it. We still call it “MovieTalk” to honor Hastings and Barb Wheatley, but what we do is different than MT as it is used in the Focal Skills program.

    Let’s also remember the bigger picture: if you’re giving comprehensible, compelling, contextualized input that is repetitive then the kids acquire.

    1. Not all CI/TRPS teachers do it as you describe Eric–therein lies the problem with continuing to call it Movietalk. What else might you call it to avoid the confusion?

  4. I’d paraphrase Blaine: “it’s MY movie.” WE TEACHERS call the shots re: what gets said, how long it takes, how much we circle, etc. It seems to me an art: like a story, it has to move fast enough to be interesting, and slow enough for us to get reps on our targets.

    My criteria for a Movietalk session:

    — the video should be about 3 min max and have a fairly “obvious” (i.e. non-ambiguous storyline). In my view, best is to picturetalk a few screenshots, then show the whole thing, then talk about one final, climactic screenshot.

    — my MAIN focus will be whatever structures we are working on. My SECONDARY focus will be on recycling whatever the kids know that’s in the film. If we are working on, say, “falls down” and “his/her ____ hurts” from our most recent story, we circle those the most. But if something easy to talk about comes up, something we know– e.g. “goes” or “wants” or the colours ___ and ___, we BRIEFLY talk about that.

    — EVERYTHING we say has to be comprehensible and we do NOT introduce new vocab in Movietalk– it is more of a “review” thing. The kids should have already recognition-acquired ( as opposed to output-acquired) the “newer” structures.

    — Movietalk’s main limitation: no dialogue.

    — one could do a feature– 10 min/class over 5 months– but it would take a lot of planning cos you would have to suss out all potential vocab beforehand or be really quick on yoru feet.


    1. I like what Chris said, MT can be whatever we want it to be. I usually do it like most of us have been saying here, limit new stuff to the targeted language, “TPRS a video” as Eric says.

      However, after watching Eric’s great MT demo that was shared recently, and thinking (from the passenger seat) about the power that the visuals in MT afford us, I wonder (skeptically for the same reasons as Ben and Jody and others suggest) if having some “noise” in the mix is such a bad thing, given that the word’s meaning is established (or at least established as much as it would be if we encountered it in a book, more so actually because of the visual aid) and there is not a requirement for recalling it (you can miss it and still jump right into the next phrase without missing much). Plus, as in the idea of multi-level classes (my leveled classes are more or less multi-level as are everyone’s to an extent), some kids will pick the un-targeted (and out-of-bounds?) word up quickly because they are ready/able for something new, while another kid will hear the word and make an instant connection that is probably right >90% of the time, just to keep on to the teacher’s message, and then let it slide by to make way for the targeted stuff that is given the forefront. The downside to doing this, it may liken the bad habit (by teacher and student) of letting too many non-transparent words slide, thereby allowing a little tiny bit of background noise to turn into a thumping boombox of incomprehensible input. (uh oh, slippery slope argument, I’m typically cautious of these.)

      And re MT, somebody came in to my classroom to get some footage earlier this month, making a MT demo, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to share this with you all! That day, I used the same 1 minute clip with an exploratory elem class (less than 10 contact hours), my Span 1 class and my Span 2 class. Very versatile.

      1. …a little tiny bit of background noise […can…] turn into a thumping boom box of incomprehensible input….

        I really think that unless we limit the clip to a short one, Chris’ suggestion of 3 min. is a good amount, and limit the amount of structures we target to a very few, then we will end up going to wide. The slippery slope image is very apt here.

        Like Chris says, “noise” should only occur in reading.

    2. “Movietalk’s main limitation: no dialogue.”

      I like this actually, because we can guess together as what they’re probably saying/thinking, thereby still doing dialogue.

  5. ya but movietalk is a way more elegant term 😉

    Tripp has a good point: you can invent the dialogue.

    I think he’s also bang-on re: noise. It’s really quite simple: if they don’t understand, they don’t acquire, and I don’t want to lose the slower processsors. I want my “noise” as minimal as possible. If there’s gotta be noise, let it be in reading, where you can stop, re-read, see if it visually looks like a word you know, etc.

  6. The resident expert here is Michele Whaley…who actually “brought” Movie Talk and Ashley Hastings to the TPRS/CI community. She is at ACTFL right now, but hopefully we will hear from her when she returns!

    with love,

  7. I’ve done a few “Watch & Discuss” (or whatever we are calling it) last year and this year. The discussion here on the blog and Eric’s video have given me some ideas to improve what I do.

    I just started one this past week with my beginner 6th graders and then with one group of 7th graders (I just upped the discussion a bit for them). It felt intentional but also free, a nice combination and a little less haphazard than what I’d done in the past.

    I actually haven’t gotten to Day 2 yet since I have a horrible not-every-day schedule, but I like the way Day 1 went. I wrote it all out for future reference for myself because I get really scattered. Maybe this is useful to other people as well.

    One Way to Do Watch & Discuss
    Day 1 prep:
    1. Choose short clip with repetitive action.
    2. Make a list of all the verbs in the clip that you will use (acquired, familiar, new).
    3. Optional – Choose screenshots and create a presentation if you want (no text) This takes time.
    I did not use screen shots on Day 1 this time.

    Day 1 in class:
    1. Establish meaning and TPR the new target verbs first (3 + 1 cognate this time)
    2. TPR all the verbs for this clip, extra practice for all – new and old
    3. Brief comprehensible introduction to the story in TL
    4. Show the clip (all, part, or screen shots depending on you, your classes, and the clip) I showed the whole thing this time without saying anything.
    – Sometimes it’s good to not show the end at first.
    – Sound off if there is speaking, sound on if it’s just music and sound effects and not distracting.
    5. Show the clip again, stopping to ask questions (1-2 word answers), circle, and narrate. Get in as many reps as possible. They’ve already seen it so they won’t be so impatient.
    6. Show the clip a third time straight through while students call out words, phrases, whatever they can as they see things happen. They liked this.

    Day 2 prep:
    1. Create presentation with screenshots if you haven’t already – This takes time.
    2. Add text to screenshots.
    3. Alternatively, write up the story as an embedded reading. Takes less time than screenshots.
    4. OR do both. Use the embedded reading another day.
    5. Follow-up activity idea (parallel story, act out, Textivate, cooperative mural – thanks, Angie, essential sentences…)

    It’s great how you can use and reuse the same clip, same screenshot PP at different levels; just change the targets, the discussion, and the text. The screenshots take a lot of time, so it’s good to be able to reuse them. Of course, you can also just make fewer of them! I got a little carried away perhaps with my newfound skill.

    Day 2+ in class:
    1. ROA the story with the screenshots or Embedded Reading – Include as much circling as possible. I sometimes forget to work the story as much as I should.
    2. Follow-up activity if time (parallel story, act out, Textivate, cooperative mural, essential sentences…) or another day

    Here is my rather long screenshot presentation with text in French and link to the video on the title page. Feel free to make a copy and use as is, change the language, or whatever. It has lots of basic action verbs.

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