Reading the subtitles

Today all my juniors, who make up a large part of my advanced class, came in brain-dead from taking the WorkKeys test. They asked to do something “easy,” and so I practiced MovieTalk on them with the first 12 minutes of a Russian film (taking up 75 minutes of class). It turned out that I did a mixture of three things: MovieTalk as I understand it (no sound, my narration, with pauses on the shots that I want to talk about), discussion of the people, places and events in the film, and reading of appropriate subtitles. I put necessary words up on the board, and got to realize that figuring out the themes of a movie is really important, because then you can then direct all your talk that way for the day. I needed to have figured out that I might talk about relationships, about choosing one’s path in life, or about how technology influences our lives. How many of our choices for friends depend on our environment? Why do we go down one path? When do we decide to listen to our gut feelings and not to those around us? I ended up throwing out questions about being late, rather than starting with any big themes. I guess we could later talk about how being late says something about how important a person or event is to us.

Reading the subtitles for this movie was perfect, because the kids know most of the language, but it went by pretty fast for them to get if they didn’t have the subtitles. I felt like that gave them support when we watched the few minutes with the sound. I’m not sure whether that’s what I should be doing, but it felt right for this group. We’ll see whether we can fit a few minutes of this film into our days.

We’re watching Piter FM…one of the kids asked whether she could move from Moscow to St. Petersburg! Not this semester, but you can visit!

If anyone out there knows a similar kind of film about Moscow, I’d love to know the name. That is, one with a school-appropriate plot and lots of beautiful scenes from the city, that would be great.

On the other hand, they’re all taking pictures of their neighborhoods and their weekend excursions. We’re finally going to talk about the weekend we “just” had for our next class period.


2 responses to “Reading the subtitles

  1. Hi Michelle,

    This is May lee, Chinese teacher from Breckenridge conference. I shared the same ride with you from the airport. I was reading your posts about MovieTalk and the page about how to use it…and got very interested in it. I learned my English and other Chinese dialects and Japanese and Korean by watching films in those languages since I was little. So, I really think that using film to teach would work if we know how to use an explicit teaching method along watching rather than just showing it to students. May I ask if you let your students watch the first time with subtitle before you pause and narrate the second time? or you just do the MovieTalk right away? if you pause and narrate, wouldn’t students complain about wanting to watch the whole movie? Do you know if there is any teaching demo video on MovieTalk around?

    I am also happy to announce that I am much happier after using TPRS after coming back from Breckenridge. I also attended the Maine TPRS conference.



  2. Hi May! I’m so glad to hear that things with TPRS are better. Your students are lucky! Quite honestly, I could not imagine doing MT if I didn’t already know TPRS. I think that the skills of using CI are very important in MT.

    My students have asked whether they could just watch the movie, after which I shared the Focal Skills website information with them. I told them how students learn through listening first, and then move to other skills. After that, they seemed to understand the point of letting me narrate better. I typically haven’t shown the subtitles before, partly because the cartoons I’ve been showing up ’till now haven’t had subtitles. I should ask Dr. Hastings whether they let the subtitles show.

    Anyway, I am mostly trying out the narration, working on 1.5 minutes at a time. It turns out that the directions of about 18 minutes an hour of video are a little much for me; I am showing about 6 minutes in half an hour. I might need to speed up.


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