Over on Ben’s blog, there’s a discussion going about “movie reading.” The idea is that the teacher reads in L1, while the kids follow in TL. This works well in certain situations, with certain kids, though as JB mentioned, it may just lead to a perception of understanding, and she gave as an example the general US population’s ability with the Centigrade thermometer. Most of us see it frequently, but because it is immediately translated with the Fahrenheit equivalent, we don’t acquire it.
There’s a lot more to this discussion, but I wanted to share what happened in my advanced class today. It was the best-case scenario of movie reading.
Kids are reading the completed version of the book they wrote, but most of them hadn’t yet seen it in a full piece, with all the revisions. They mutinied on me when I asked them to read in pairs, either in Russian or English. Instead, one student read out loud dramatically in English, while they followed (a technique they had come up with on their own the other day when I was out of the room). Forty-five minutes of straight reading allowed them to finish the book. They were glued to the pages. When the leader’s dramatic efforts left the words on the page behind, they would start reading the real words for her, and when she made mistakes, they would correct her. It was almost magical.
I’ve tried to do this movie reading before, and now I realize how baby-easy the text needs to be for it to be successful as far as acquisition. It simply can’t have any impediments.
We’ve talked about using movie reading to get through an interesting but difficult article, and while I think that’s okay, I would prefer to have it as easy as the text we read today. My student was still making occasional errors (mostly in tense and similar words) in a book that she had helped write! I am now more convinced that the better we can prepare kids for a text at any level above super easy, the more they will be able to acquire.
Still, this experience was idyllic. I was completely superfluous!