I am slowly figuring out how to use MovieTalk in a high school curriculum.
What I’m finding is that my beginners are mostly very enthusiastic about MovieTalk, because they love watching movies. The downside with ninth-graders is that evidently “movie” means “we don’t really have to pay attention.” I’m combatting that, mostly by keeping up the barrage of speech and questioning that we do in regular Storytelling, but for some of them the darkened room and the comfy chairs lead to…well…sleepiness!
I will be talking about issues of focus with them; I’m learning what I think by writing this!
The other point I have to make with them is that acquisition occurs effortlessly. They need to know that if it feels “too easy,” but that they’re understanding, it’s okay. That’s true acquisition. We got in a bunch of colors, clothing items, animals, and even some new verbs today that I hadn’t thought about, yet the kids were answering questions about them in full voice.
Each time I use MovieTalk, I realize anew that Ashley Hastings is right on about how rich every moment of a movie is. The pictures generate a thousand words, and I can choose which of the thousand (hundred, in my case) to use to discuss the scenes and the action.
This week, we’ve been talking about who has/doesn’t have problems. My two boys were absolutely into the game. One said his problem is that he doesn’t sleep at night. Turns out that his family is up singing heavy metal all night. The other boy said that his problem is he doesn’t have a friend. When I asked whether he has a girlfriend, he said, “Maybe.” We haven’t investigated too much. All this was leading up to the first paragraph of Poor Anna, but as it turned out, it led to the movie we’re watching, in which Crocodile Gena doesn’t have a friend and invites others over to be part of a club of friends.
Whether it’s prepping for reading or prepping for the movie discussion, those high-frequency structures just keep showing up, and the kids were pretty excited to understand parts of the dialogue in the movie without help. They thought I’d planned it, but I honestly hadn’t remembered; high-frequency is high-frequency. Fabulous. Oh! We started a song a while ago, “I’m not afraid,” and part-way through the movie, Shapoclyak asks Cheburashka whether he’s afraid of rats. No! He wasn’t! The crocodile was afraid though. That allowed us to go off script and discuss who was afraid of rats in the classroom. This is not a discussion I’ve ever had with Russian 1 before (reflexive second-type verb). It’s truly TPRS on steroids.