Film: The Power of Visual Authres

A good friend of mine, and former colleague, came by last week to talk about film in the classroom. Let me give you a little background on our work relationship: “Phil” and I were hired in Carlyle the same year. In our third year, I began dabbling in TPRS and CI based methods and something amazing happened.. Kids started flooding my Spanish classes! As Spanish grew and grew, German enrollment declined! I talked with “Phil” about learning to use TPRS or CI based methods but he learned German in a grammar based classroom and felt like what he was doing was right for his kids. It cost him his job! In the third year of my CI based classes, he only had 3 sign up for German I, the district could not rehire him!

Fast forward to two years ago…. After a 4 year break from teaching, Phil found a new job teaching German. The program was shrinking and they were looking for someone to turn it around. He wanted to be the one, and he wanted me to train him to use CI! Today his German program has eclipsed the Spanish program (who had to release a teacher due to declining enrollment!) He is thrilled but is getting a lot of grief about his method from the Spanish teachers! They say that the kids only want to take his class because he just tells stories and shows a lot of films…..

What do we tell teachers who don’t understand the power of film when it is used well? Here are some ideas:

1. Films are alive with culture! My students learn a LOT about the history and culture of Spanish speaking countries through film study. We watch films for background, for comparison, and for interpretation! Used in a clear context, they can have real meaning to students.

2. Films are engaging! If I had students take notes on Archbishop Romero, it would not be as engaging as watching the film Romero together. We can focus on his metamorphosis through the film rather than simply on paper!

3. Films are memorable! When my students took the AAPPL Proficiency Exam from ACTFL, they mentioned that several of our class films appeared in the listening and reading sections! They remembered so much about them that they felt very confident about their performance! (And the scores reflected it!)

4. Films teach language! Nothing has taught me this more than using the series Internado Laguna Negra with my level III and IV classes! The words they learn watching this show appear over and over again in their writing!!

5. Films reach visual learners! So many of our weak readers have trouble creating a movie in their miss when we read together. By adding a film, students can call up images from the film when we read to foster comprehension of the story! I often show a film before a novel so that students have a point of reference as we read!

I am in my room today, a school holiday, with my Spanish IV kids. They wanted to come in and watch two episodes of Internado today… On a school holiday…. Film is powerful! In context, with clear goals an purpose, and with plenty of explanation/connections, it can be the most powerful #authres we bring to the classroom!!!

5 days, 5 ways- How can I come closer to the 90% Day 1

As language teachers we all know how high the bar is set with the 90% target language guideline, so now how to we reach the goal? For the next five days I will post an idea per day to encourage TL communication even in the novice classroom.

Day one, let’s look at authentic resources. In level one I wouldn’t dream of bringing a copy of a Spanish language newspaper and asking them to read it but I can still use authentic materials that meet their needs!

Consider these three ways to make authentic resources accessible to your novice, intermediate, or advanced students:

1. Bring in a commercial. The level of your student should be the deciding factor in the type of commercial you use. For example, novices can easily discuss this commercial ( ) using familiar vocabulary- plus it has good culture for the Spanish teachers! While intermediate or advanced students would be able to decode a lot of the language (Spanish here, sorry) in a commercial like this one ( ).

Suggestion for commercial use: watch te commercial together two or three times and then use accessible language to discuss what students have seen.
My lessons:
La Llorona commercial- we watched the commercial after studying walks, cries, and has. In this early novice level class, I re-told the events of the commercial and asked students to do the same for a writing assessment with a rubric focused on their ability to communicate the message.
Coca Cola para todos commercial: after listening to the commercial once, intermediate students tried to list “who is coca cola for?” They watched two additional times and then we created a class list. By the end they had caught nearly all of the references in the commercial and had enjoyed the way coca cola uses different bottles to represent different people.

2. Bring in a meme! Pinterest has thousands of great pictures with just a few words in the TL but a deep message! Use memes that go well with what you’re doing in class each week! Discuss each meme in the TL. Make inferences about the meme. In a higher level class, ask students to develop a story about what happened before or after the meme!

3. Infographics are very visual! Whatever you’re studying, there is sure to be an Infographic that would provide you the opportunity to get that common core reading of charts and graphs in your lesson! Many Infographics are heavy on visual and light on language so they are perfect even at novice levels! Again, Pinterest is my go-to source for Infographics!