Making MovieTalk

I was watching Janice Billy teach a story about Coyote at the Celebrating Salish conference, wondering whether Janice and Kathryn Michel knew about MovieTalk. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t, and even less surprisingly, Kathryn was pretty sure that there are few movies out there that would be appropriate in an immersion Salish school.

I started to explain that one doesn’t need to use a film with the target language, or from the culture, but remembered that I personally prefer to use TL videos, because there is such a huge dose of authentic culture wrapped into them.

But even before we had a chance to discuss the idea, another thought occurred to me. What if, when I am planning to do a story, I recruit actors who can play roles to create a three-minute video of the story? I would storyboard the action for efficient film time. Students would use props and costumes and mostly silent acting to help create the story, and then we would set about the usual procedure of asking a parallel story in class, writing it, reading it, and mixing that into doing a MovieTalk with the story we filmed.

Now that I think of it, my advanced kids could research Russian fairy tales or anecdotes, make their own storyboard and video (on their own time), and then we could use those in several levels of classes.

The videos could have background music, but there would be no narration, and little if any sound (maybe music) so that the teacher can MovieTalk.

We’re a week away from our state Russian competition, so I’m working on output this and next week. But after that, I’ll be trying out a home-grown video MovieTalk. I’ll let you know how it goes.

2 responses to “Making MovieTalk

  1. I actually just tried MovieTalk today for the first time and it went better than I expected. Usually the first time around things don’t go as planned, but this was definitely a success. My students were engaged the whole time and they found it to be rather suspenseful since I was pausing the movie often. I used a 9-minute video clip on YouTube called the Sheep in the Island. We just finished reading the TPRS novel Piratas so there was so much vocabulary they already knew or had been exposed to. Also, there are no words so it was perfect (even though I know I can just turn the volume down if there were). I was able to stay in the target language for a long time and get in many repetitions of high frequency vocabulary.

    Your idea of filming and using the film to create a parallel story in class is a fabulous idea. I often struggle with creating class stories so this would be a great idea. After having PQA’d the new structures and using the film, the class could write a similar story and not have to start from scratch.

    I also like your idea about using your advanced students to do research fairytales or anecdotes. That is a great way to bring in culture. Now you have me thinking, what else can I get my AP students to do that I would also be able to use with my lower levels. Thanks for sharing your ideas!



    • Laura, I’m so glad that these ideas are helpful! I love piggybacking onto ideas of others, and the fact that I got the idea by attending an introduction to TPRS is significant. First, we can all keep learning from others, no matter how long we’ve been doing this stuff! And second, I personally get into ruts, and only by watching others teach can I yank myself out of them, even if it’s to do something I used to do and have ceased. I am sad that I will not after all be able to go to NTPRS this year, because it is a feeding frenzy for my brain. Just sitting next to Laurie Clarcq or Jason Fritze (and of course many others) gives me ideas, and how much more to work with them or attend a session. (More on the why later on. I’m also thrilled about that.)


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