Learn to do Movie Talk in 20 minutes

I am starting a new series called “Learn to in 20 minutes”. In this series I am going to give teachers like you instruction for how to use different techniques in language instruction. This first installment is on Movie Talk. I have found that there are many teachers who want to learn this technique that they may have heard about from others. I hope you feel like I keep my word and truly teach Movie Talk in 20 minutes.

Please join the learning by entering a comment here on the Blog. Tell my readers how you use Movie Talk or tell us what you like about Movie Talk. Thank you!

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 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 this method. 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 Movie Talk

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!

Movie 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. 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 movie 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.