Movie Talks

Movie Talks are something new that I tried this year. The idea behind a Movie Talk is to tell a story using a short clip to deliver comprehensible input. I learned about Movie Talks from Blaine Ray at the 2016 ACTFL conference. Dr. Ashley Hastings developed the strategy to use in ESL classrooms and Michelle Whaley is credited for developing Movie Talks for second language comprehensible input (CI) driven classrooms. Here are a few pieces of advice from my experience doing Movie Talks this year:

1. Make sure your clip is short, and try to choose one that has a surprise ending. I made the mistake of showing a great Mr. Bean video this year that was almost nine minutes long. My students were very, very sick of Mr. Bean by the time we got to the end.

2. Plan on showing segments of the video multiple times but don’t give away the ending until the end. I usually spend about 15 minutes per class doing Movie Talks and try to spend at the most 4 days of class doing activities related to the video. A typical Movie Talk for me goes something like this:

Day One: Tell the first section of the Movie Talk in story form with questions to ensure comprehension. Sometimes I show a slideshow with stills while I’m telling the story, but sometimes I just draw as I’m speaking.

Day Two: Do a class reading that both summarizes the first part of the Movie Talk discussed the previous day and also includes a little more  plot information from the video.

Day Three: Watch the video in class in its entirety.

Day Four: Review the video, usually in the form of a game (Keith Toda has a great list of games to play, such as this one and this one) and/or assess students on it with a short quiz or timed writing.

3. Try not to show videos that your students may have already seen. Pixar is well-known for their short clips at the beginning of their films, and they are perfect for Movie Talks. Many videos that go “viral” also make good Movie Talk fodder. The problem is that so many of our students have already seen them, which can affect engagement and may spoil the ending. But since video production is a passion of many talented artists these days, finding suitable, more obscure videos to show is not that difficult. On the iFLT/NTPRS/ CI Teaching Facebook page someone posted a link to a Movie Talk database, which is where I usually start when I’m looking to do a Movie Talk, but you may just want to search YouTube or Vimeo and see what you find.

If you are interested in trying a Movie Talk, you may want to start by purchasing the “Look I Can Movie Talk” resource from TPRS Publishing. It comes in either Spanish (downloadable or on CD-ROM) or French (CD-Rom). The introduction of both versions gives step-by-step instructions on how to do a Movie Talk in class. Then the authors chose ten videos and created resources such as readings, puzzles, and comprehension questions for each video that teachers can copy and use in their classrooms. Unfortunately, this resource is not available in other languages, so if you don’t teach Spanish or French, you may want to start by reading more about Movie Talks from other blogs, such as this one and this one, or watch some demos of Movie Talks done by other teachers such as this one or this one. And then once you feel relatively comfortable with the mechanics of the process, just go for it! And if you are unhappy with your results at first, you will see better results as you get more comfortable with the process. And besides, poorly executed CI is still better than traditional instruction any day!


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