Movie Talk Update

Still newish to doing Movie Talks, I have been enjoying the milage that I get out of one short video. Movie Talk, if you haven’t heard, is a technique where the teacher shows a video and along with the class narrates the story in the target language, giving students that all-important input.

  • This is the resource folder for this post. You will see it also contains the examples from my last post on Movie Talks.

Take a look here at Rhapsodie pour un pot au feu as an example of how a teacher could talk about a video. I have put in the questions a teacher could ask to get students talking, previewing the vocabulary for themselves and other students in the class.

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Photo by Alexandra Lecomte

I use in my classes a version of Movie Talk called Picture Talk, using still pictures, as you saw in my last example. I take screen shots instead of clicking pause in order to narrate the story. As I tend to pick videos that have spoken audio, I don’t want to start and stop randomly during the narration and dialogue. Therefore, it is a better fit for me to take screen shots from the video, gather them in a presentation and have students talk about them.

Please look at this example from Une vie de chat. And, what I am excited to share with you are the other activities that I use to add even more chances for students to get input on the topic chosen for the unit. For this clip, I have a script that students read and a sequencing activity. Students also could be asked to draw the story as they listen to the teacher read the script and they could be asked to rewrite the story with three changes for their classmates to pick out.

You might have caught in an earlier blog post that I shared yet another Movie Talk called Vinz et Lou. Here it is again in case you didn’t catch it and to illustrate yet another way of doing a Picture Talk. In this example at the beginning I show pictures without words and ask students what is happening in the pictures and talk myself about what happens in the story, then I show the clip. If there is a cliff-hanger in the video, I stop discussing the pictures before that point and allow suspense to build, then show the clip. Finally, I read through the sentences that go with the pictures.

I continue to like Movie Talk and am enjoying pursuing this technique further. I can see that many of you read the blog. Please consider, if it is useful to you, liking this post or leaving me a comment to tell me where you are with Movie Talk and / or what resources you have found. In addition, if you want to explore more, click the link “Movie Talk” to the right to read prior posts on this topic.

The 10 Best French Short Videos for Picture Talk or Movie Talk

Picture Talk, or Movie Talk, is gaining momentum in our World Language community. I have blogged on this technique that is an extension of TPRS storytelling, or in my layman’s terms a great way to deliver language input in the novice high to intermediate low classroom. I like that the teacher uses pictures to show the students what she is talking about. For me, it is a great way to present interesting language input and to get the class talking as they predict or create a story together.

Cupidon Movie Talk
Cupidon — ESMA Movies

I am slowly building a library of short videos connected to themes that are frequently taught in beginning French. Here are some videos to add to your collection, with their corresponding themes:

Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu— Les activités
Simon, Je veux pas aller à l’école— L’école
Les Sisters, Doudou La Chance— La maison idéale
SamSam, Une journée crocochemardesque— La routine de la journée
Les Sisters, Telle soeur, telle soeur— Qu’est-ce que les jeunes font en été?
Lait Drôle de la Vie— La rentrée
Cupidon— Ma ville
L’or bleu— L’environnement
Au fil de l’âge— La famille
Le cadeau— Les animaux domestiques

When you first get started with Picture Talk, it helps to use the videos and resources that more experienced teachers have found. It saves you a lot of time and you can get right to using them in the classroom. IFprofs is a platform for sharing French education resources and there is a page on movie talks that has linked videos and other resources, like the slides. You will have to sign in to access it. I especially liked two videos that I found on IFProfs and am now using them, so you will notice I left two for others to use. I always consider giving back to others by sharing!

Teaching Film in the proficiency-based classroom: Belle et Sébastien

When I teach students French through film, I follow my regular World Language teaching rules: make the task accessible, limit the length of video clips, and everything we do prioritizes speaking and leads to discussion. I am going to walk you through how I do this referring to the film Belle et Sébastien. You will find all of my resources in this folder.

I have come to learn that when the language in the dialogue of a film is difficult, I can have students comment on the action and this works particularly well if you chose a film with a lot of action. While students are watching the film, they respond to statements as true or false and they have questions to guide their comprehension. See the handouts for during the film: 1 2 3 4 5

Using only short segments of a movie at a time allows me to use the rest of the class to explain culture, the historical setting of the film or to have the students do activities that help them understand the film. You will see how I did this in the teaching slides that go with the film.

As I said above, everything we do in French class prioritizes speaking and leads to a class discussion. After each segment, students respond to questions in pairs doing a Partner Turn and Talk. Students get many chances to speak each class because they are put into pairs for conversations. And, when doing this work in pairs, they prepare their thoughts for the class discussion that follows.

As a last point, I wanted to share that we studied this film after my students had already done a unit on World War II in their Social Studies class. It felt good to me to be able to reinforce what they had already learned.

It is my hope that through the examples that I have offered you can see some news ideas on how to use film to teach in the Proficiency-Based classroom. Please respond in a comment to tell me what parts of this lesson work for you or what you would include in a lesson on film. It would make me so happy to hear from each person who gets something out of this post.

Picture Talk: how to get students talking through stories

What I am trying to make happen in the proficiency-based classroom is to create opportunities for communication. Some teachers do this talking with students about the basketball game last night or the dance on Friday evening. Unfortunately talking about our students’ lives doesn’t get you through the year and I have realized that I can create communicative contexts through stories found in picture books and cartoons.

TPRS has modeled a way to generate communication around a story. Over the years I have appreciated the “circling” that happens as a story is created, i.e. “Is there a girl or a boy?”, “Oh, a boy. What is his name, Patrick or Julius?” “Ok, Julius. What is he like, serious or funny?” In this way the teacher develops a story with the class. I enjoyed teaching like that, but recently I have adopted authentic stories and put aside TPRS. As much as I loved them, after years of teaching stories written intentionally for language learners I was bored.

When using stories, I create the communicative context through a version of Movie Talk, a TPRS technique that employs circling while playing a video without sound. Lisa Shepard spells this technique out on her blog Madame’s Musings and thanks to her I had a eureka moment. She has some excellent resources with children’s cartoons that I have added to my curriculum. Then, I read online about how some teachers do the same technique with pictures instead of video and have called it Picture Talk. Soon I was taking short cartoons and picture books and doing screenshots of what was happening in the story and introducing vocabulary by talking about the pictures, circling as I asked students to predict what the story would be about.

In the unit I am currently developing on “What do young people do in summer?” I am going to use a video from the television show Les Sisters. The episode is about the younger sister wanting to do everything the older sister does, but I am not going to ask questions about the themes that are presented in the show. Instead I am going to use the show’s setting by having students comment on what is happening when the girls go to a pool. The input they will receive will be the vocabulary I want to include about how students feel about their summer plans.

Here are my steps, following Lisa Shepard’s lead, but making the technique my own:

  • Take screen shots to do a picture talk
  • Show the video
  • Have students match the pictures with sentences describing them
  • Go back to the slides and do a choral retell of the story with the pictures
  • Students watch the video and answer questions on EdPuzzle.
  • Have students do a group retell of the story

For novices, frequently for this technique the input is not the words in the video, but a description of what is happening in the video. For example, with the Les Sisters video it is at the point in the unit “What do young people do in summer?” where I want students to learn words for saying how they feel about their summer plans. So while the video does not have our vocabulary words, in the activity I ask the student how the girl in the video feels using the vocabulary we want to teach.

You will see in my stories resources folder another video and two sets of slides from pictures books. You can access the picture books for free through an educator’s account on Epic Books. This new-to-me technique has created a communicative context where my class makes up silly possibilities of what the story is going to be about. As we predict the story, we communicate and I introduce students to new vocabulary for the unit.

Sitcoms: Making the task accessible

You will find the resources for the post in this folder.

Television is a very compelling medium. Even taken in small doses of less than fifteen minutes, a segment of a sitcom can show us the products, practices and perspectives of a culture. TV shows are a mostly unexploited resource in the World Language Classroom even though fictional stories are central to the ACTFL Can Do’s. I have found clips from Les Sisters, En famille and Parents Mode d’Emploi that can be accessible in a beginning class if the activity is carefully planned.

Les Sisters is a realistic cartoon about two sisters. The elder sister is always getting annoyed by her little sister. Fortunately for me, I was able to find a clip where the action happens in different rooms of the house when I was working on a unit about La maison idéale. I made statements about what happens in the show and the students put them in order, then they retell the story themselves. This activity is accessible because while the dialogue in the show is pretty advanced, my students were instead decoding the accessible langauge in the statements I wrote.

En famille and Parents Mode d’Emploi are sitcoms about the members of a family, much like Parenthood or Black-ish. I decided to use the clips to work on the key language function of describing, so the task would be accessible for Novice and Intermediate Low students. To encourage more complex thinking, I also ask students to explain why the clip is funny. Again, these tasks are accessible because students don’t need to understand all the dialogue in the clip. If they are able to get the gist, then they can rely on beginning language to explain what they see is happening in the clip.

I included with the other resources two extra shows, a reality competition show called Le Meilleur Pâtissier and a version of Parents Mode d’Emploi from Gabon. For Le Meilleur Pâtissier I made an EdPuzzle for the first segment of the show, then we watched another few minutes together and discussed. The show is a lot of fun to watch with students. While watching this episode my students saw how a French pastry chef is very exact in the decoration of a dessert. Another good reality television show for French class is Recerche Appartement ou Maison and though I didn’t share a task for that show with you, you can find one by searching the show’s name in EdPuzzle. What I did share with you are some clips from the African version of Parents Mode d’Emploi that appeared on TV5 Monde. I have included those clips with the student activities also made by TV5 Monde.

I believe your students will find these television clips compelling and they will also find the tasks accessible.

Novices reading current events

1jour1actu is a French periodical about current events which is written for young people 8 to 12 years old. I find their website, videos, print copy newspaper and eMag great for keeping my students up to date on current events in France. My 8th grade students have subscriptions to the eMag and like the variety of articles and being able to independently navigate them, each student on a computer. Though the subscription is expensive, I am a believer in the quality of paid content. The 1jour1actu eMag has been a great addition to my 8th grade classroom because it allows for student-centered instruction and it shows American students what is of interest to young people in France.logo

Most importantly, student-centered tasks increase motivation at the middle school level. When we are working with 1jour1actu I try as much as possible to get out of the students’ way. This means keeping my role simple, for example I don’t supply vocabulary lists and I try to make extension activities where students can pick the content that they want to read. Here is an example of an activity that I used with my students when they were reading about what it means to be a good community member for an issue that was called Bien Vivre Ensemble. While I can’t share the paid content from the eMag, for this particular issue, there was some free-content released that you can find here. With that pdf, you have the materials at your hands to have your students read and do the activity I shared above. This could be a good way to try out 1jour1actu for the first time with your own students.

In addition, I love that a French publisher with an eye for what interests young people curates the news. Through the eMag we have been able to discover the French point of view on the US presidential election as well as find out more about the music group Kids United. Without subscribing to paid content, my students are subjected to the articles that I choose to download. What I share with them, by definition as I have chosen it for the students of my French class, is filtered through the lens of an American language teacher and is much less authentic than what they will experience when they read content selected by a French editor.

After the students do the reading, using the activity sheet, I have them participate in a class discussion on the topic and each student much speak once. The students stand up their notebooks and then put them down once they have contributed to the conversation. Students try not to repeat what others have said. We did one recently on the simple topic of Les français aiment-ils le chocolat ?, after we read a multiple page infographic about chocolate consumption in France, called Les Francais, fondus de chocolat. That day twenty-three students spoke about French consumption of chocolate, each one adding in a detail that was at his or her own level of difficulty. The reading we had done together was so rich in details that it gave us excellent material for a class conversation.

As we get more and more used to using this bi-weekly periodical, I hope that my instruction could follow the content of the eMag. We could use the articles for our content and vocabulary and I could assess the students’ reading and listening skills through Interpretive Assessments seeing that there are articles, videos and sound clips from young journalists who interview specialists in their field. Then, my students could discuss the content for our Interpersonal Assessments. And, finally my students could write and speak about the content for our Presentational Assessments. I am not there yet, but this is what I would like to build towards, with the help of this exceptional resource.

The daunting task of collecting authentic materials

My district’s curriculum coordinator is encouraging language teachers to find their own authentic materials instead of using ones from a publisher that are written for the second language audience. Authentic materials are culturally rich and tend to rely less on stereotypes than textbooks. The task of collecting them is made a little bit easier because I have been working at it for the last four years, but I still find it daunting. In this post I would like to share what I’ve learned so that others can collect authentic resources more quickly than I did and get on to the next step of using them.

My goal has been to find authentic videos and texts that are of high interest level to my pre-teen students and are accessible at the novice level. These materials also need to fit into the themes that are taught in the first years of French class and need to be geared toward social justice, as per my district. Where do I go to find such texts and video clips?

I will start with my favorites. My best resource is TV5Monde. Click here to see my blog post about this gold mine of a resource. In addition, I have found some individuals who collect authentic resources. There is a new site called Le vrai de vrai that has just come online in the last month and is a game changer for French teachers. It is a collection of authentic materials leveled for novice and intermediate students. Another great collector, Catherine Ousselin, on behalf of AATF has created a You Tube channel called AAT French that is a rich source for videos. The materials from these three sources figure prominently in my instruction.

Beyond these sites, I rely heavily on materials other French teachers have posted to Pinterest and Twitter. On Pinterest, French teachers have adopted FLE, Français Langue Étrangère, as their designation for French materials. Do a search with the terms “FLE” and the theme that you are searching for, such as “FLE nourriture”, then click on “boards” to find boards with multiple pins on the topic. You will be led to many short video clips, info-graphs and articles. Not all of them will be authentic, appropriate, interesting and accessible so you will need to sort through with a critical eye. You can check out my boards here, as a starting point. Pinterest is, by the way, a great place to store for future use the authentic documents you gather. On Twitter, the shortcut to authentic documents is #authres and if you add in #french you will see the latest tweets for authentic French resources.

Media outlets from France that write content for children are a great resource as well. Best would be to subscribe to magazines like GéoAdo and Okapi, but online you can get some good resources from these magazines as well as from 1jour1actu and P’tit Libé, which have both been excellent for me.

What to do with the clips and readings you have found? Once I have found a video clip, I want to be able to call it up quickly when I am using it with my students, so I want to take out the hassle of unreliable wifi and advertisements. Also, I frequently want to use just a segment. So, I use a clip converter to download the segment. And I store both the clips and the readings that I have found in my Google Docs, which seems to have enough space for all my content.

These hints have taken me four years to assemble. I wish you happy collecting. May you move more quickly than I did.