Movie Talk is such a hot topic in the CI world these days, and can be a powerful tool for language acquisition. However, even the most seasoned CI teachers can have movie talks run away from them. Between managing class expectations, pausing the video, tech issues, keeping vocabulary comprehensible; doing a successful and impactful movie talk is a heavy cognitive load. Should this scare you away? NO!
With careful planning Movie Talk can be exciting, engaging, and unbelievably impactful. I recently did a my first movie talk with my level 1 French class. We are 9 weeks into the semester and the October blahs were setting in. Movie Talk is wonderful for breaking up a routine and adding some excitement, but I’m not interested in doing this unless this also leads to acquisition. One of our targeted words this week is “prend” (takes), which is one of those words that seems to require much more repetition than other words. It’s just not sticky. I wasn’t able to get as many repetitions of the word in our PQA sessions, and a story didn’t seem to be what we needed this week. Then I came across this wonderful video that perfectly aligned with my vocabulary.
EggsChange By Hee Won Ahn
is a perfect 2 minute narrative that is full of emotion, action, and drama, along with a funny ending. Just right for a movie talk.
Now How do I plan this to be more than just a fun 2 minute brain break…
First, What is my target vocab?
My main goal for this lesson is : Prend(takes)
I will also get to review: s’assied(sits), regarde(looks at), lui donne(gives to him/her), crie(yells), une femme(a woman), va(goes/is going)
Out of bounds vocabulary: une poule (a hen), l’oeuf (the egg), un seau (a bucket) I don’t care if my students acquire these words in this lesson, I just need them to deliver the input of my targeted structures
What do I need to display for students to understand?
I made a poster with all fo the above words on it, as well as est d’accord (agrees)
So there’s the easy part, but how to teach my class to participate in a Movie Talk with out everything decending into madness?
Maintaining target language: Prior to this week I have taught my students rejoinders, and developed several routines around these. Grant Boulanger has wonderful resources about rejoinders. This year I’ve started adding rejoinders to class jobs, so I have a couple of rejoinders that are special for individual students. My favorites are my student who had a cow bell and signals when the class must say “oh la vache!” (oh the cow/ oh my goodness), and our scapegoat (inspired by CI Genius Lauren Tauchman) who gets blamed for everything and then replies “Tant Pis” (too bad)
I have actively taught rejoinders for weeks prior to the movie talk and we have a growing list of them on my whiteboard.
As this was the first movie talk I also went over expectations and routines for this new activity prior to beginning. These is how I presented the activity:
I am going to annoy you.
I am going to play a video and stop it A LOT.
I am going to repeat our target vocabulary A LOT.
You can watch the whole video without interruption at the end of the lesson.
With these rules you help students anticipate frustration with stopping the video. You give them the “why” behind stopping the video,and you promise them a couple of minutes of pure fun. Once you get going in the movie talk they get absorbed and the stopping gets less annoying.
Whole Class- My routine for choral response is that I count to three (In the target language) and then the whole class responds. I continuously teach my students that 100% participation is required when I do “Un, deux, trois”
Who knows? When I just ask a question, students are invited to shout out answers. This tells me who is with me and who knows what I’m asking. I use this check mostly for out of bounds vocabulary or for cognate heavy statements.
Individual Questions- I use my “Cards of Justice” (my equivalent of popsicle sticks) to select students, I also cold call students to check for understanding. When I cold call or use my cards to call on someone, I always make sure the question is something they will be able to answer, so an either/or question, or a which question, unless the student is a rock star and ready for a more advanced question. I try to set students up for success with my differentiation, not catch someone not knowing.
Higher Level Thinking: The first questions to plan are around higher level thinking skills. Looking at the video and at what your students understand, what Higher Level questions can you ask? I always like to start here when planning questions because then I can make sure that my easier questions lead to the answer for these. For this video and level 1 I decided to go with comparisons.
Ta maman/papa/ grandmère/ copine…, est-elle similaire ou différente de la poule? de la femme? (Is your mom similar or different from the hen? the woman?)
Having this question in mind allows me to build my input to support the answering of this question. By the time we finish this movie talk students should be able to complete a Venn comparing the characters to people in their lives.
Once this question is established, then I plan my other questions. There is usually a structure to how I begin.
Intro- present characters, setting, anticipation I always teach “Va” goes/is going before I do a movie talk so I can use the simple future tense to help students anticipate what will happen. I also always teach agrees/ disagrees so that my students can express their opinions of other students’ predictions (usually by voting- Who agrees with X?). This is also a great time to recycle previously taught vocabulary.
Main part- This section is where I target the vocabulary. My questions in this section were a collection of these
The hen has the egg! The hen is a mom!
Is the hen going to eat the egg or sit on the egg?
Oh look! The hen is caressing(out of bounds comprehensible because of gestures) the egg! Is the egg her baby? Is it normal for a mom to caress her baby? X does your mom look at you like that? Does your mom caress your head like that?
Look! She sits on the egg! X does your mom sit on you? No? (I also entertain myself with jokes) Why do we call it babysitting then?
The woman opens the door! She looks at the hen! Is she going to take the egg? Is the hen going to give her the egg? Who agrees?
And so on and so forth.
Conclusion: In this part we get to the why questions a lot more. When I start why questions I have either or answer choices to scaffold for my level 1 students.
Why does the woman take the egg? Because she wants to sit on the egg or because she wants to eat the egg?
Why does the chicken take the baby? Because she wants to eat the baby or sit on the baby?
Does the chicken love the baby? Is the chicken mean? Is the woman mean?
Wrapping it up:
I always let my students watch the video uninterrupted at the end of a movie talk. I NEVER let them preview the whole video before the movie talk because then the suspense and anticipation is gone. The best part of a movie talk is getting to use a video to supply the emotion, suspense and surprise in class. I need days where I don’t need to be creative to be compelling and giving away the surprise makes the movie talk less engaging.
After they watch There are a variety of follow up activities that one can do with students. The one I did (after a true/ false quiz about the discussion) was a Venn Diagram comparing the chicken to their mom/ or other relative.
EggsChange Venn (French)