Dr. Ashley Hastings’ original MovieTalk looked a lot different from what we see today from the CI-embracing community. Instead of using short animated clips, frequent pausing, interacting with students via Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA), and reading follow-up texts (actual or parallel), Dr. Hastings would instead played longer segments of feature-length movies while narrating as part of the FOCAL SKILLS program’s Listening Module, “where class time is devoted exclusively to improving the students’ listening comprehension.”
For the CI-embracing community online, there are often MovieTalk requests based on a particular grammatical feature (i.e. “Does anyone have a good MovieTalk for ser vs. estar?”). This practice strays from communicative language teaching, and reflects what Bill VanPatten has said in Tea with BVP about using “new” practices to teach the same old stuff—mainly—explicit grammar, or teaching language for language’s sake (and not some communicative purpose).
Whether your MovieTalk is a partially-communicative Activity lacking one of those communicative purposes, or a fully-communicative Task (e.g. entertainment?), there are two main ways to use MovieTalk:
1) Introduce new words.
2) Use known words.
#1 is completely new to me and I just learned it from Adriana Ramirez at NTPRS 2017, as follows:
- Adriana BEGINS with a base Embedded Reading (ER), but one that is a longer paragraph, or more substantial than just some sentences. They read this together as a class during the last ~20min of class. There’s no movie.
- On day 2, students are given the next version to read WHILE watching the clip as Adriana pauses and asks PQA.
- Day 3 is a much longer final version that students read in pairs (Use any reading strategy you like!).
#2 is self-explanatory, but teachers tend to put too much thought into this one. You can plan ahead as much, or as little as you want to in order to provide input via MovieTalk, assuming you have time later to type up a quick story (either what happened exactly in the video, OR a parallel story using words/phrases from from the video, or both). Want to see how MovieTalk can be no-prep to low-prep using Day 1/Week 1 vocabulary? Here’s an example using just a few words out of the ones you’re likely to use during the first week:
1) est puer.
Wait, do you need this word to narrate an animated clip? Nope. Just use a proper noun!
1) est Jack.
2) Jack est laetus.
3) Jack nōn est laetus.
4) Jack est laetus.
WHAA?! That’s a MovieTalk?
Yes, that’s a MovieTalk…appropriate for Day 1. It has only 3 words, and PQA questioning/interaction using posters in the room could easily provide multiple exposures (e.g. Ubi est Jack? estne Jack Rōmae? Tom, esne laetus? Quis est laetus? estne Magister laetus? sum Magister. laetus nōn sum! nōn sum Rōmae. etc.). Also, the students will love watching a video—for the purpose of entertainment—so if you show more of a video than you normally would because you’re using a small number of words (i.e. sheltering vocabulary), it’s still a huge success given the amount of genuine interaction you can have with so few words. Look at what Laurie Clarcq did on her Day 1! Also, that script above will work with ANY video in which everything begins OK, there’s a problem, then the problem is resolved, which, is nearly every video I can think of. If not, leave out the 4th sentence. Just imagine what you can do with an additional verb, and another word or two!
So, go ahead and try it out! Just go here, randomly select a video, play, then pause when you can say something using the words above (or words you KNOW your students understand, or at least have been exposed to). Challenge yourself to limit what you say! Oh, and if the words that your students understand are NOT in the video, use them anyway with nōn. It’s just as powerful discussing what’s NOT in the video if they understand the language. The power of nōn. When I tested this out myself, I randomly selected this video, and it was amazing how quickly “laetus” and “nōn laetus” appeared.
p.s. Ask TPRS Books about MovieTalk in Latin. It should be available soon. A lot of Latin teachers have already shared their resources, including scripts to accompany popular videos, but each one in Look! I can MovieTalk! has 2 shorter versions of the story, 3 increasingly complex versions of the main story, and an alternative/parallel story, as well as 5 activities. That’s a lot of target language input!