Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ipod Video

by AJ

Without a doubt, my "movie lessons" are the most popular activity I do with students. Students in my class can't wait until the afternoon, which is when we have the movie technique class. I even get requests from students in other classes, who have heard about it.

Of course, just watching a movie in English is almost useless, unless you are a very advanced student. Some teachers use movies as a babysitter- they pop in the movie, then do nothing.

That's not what we do. As Ive described many times, the movie technique is a "structured input" activity. The teacher's role is to make the movie comprehensible for the students (that's "i+1" for all you teacher geeks out there ;)

Obviously, you don't do the same thing with beginners as you would with an advanced class. With low beginners, I focus only on concrete images on the screen. I describe them (He's wearing a blue shirt, She's running, ....) and I ask questions about them (What is she doing? Why is she crying? etc...).

With the advanced class I'm currently teaching, we focus on the dialogue. I turn on the English subtitles and play a scene at full speed. Then I rewind, and go through the scene line by line... explaining new vocabulary, idioms, slang, phrases, grammar... whatever. Each day, we write the new vocab on our "vocab wall"... then we review it every morning.

It occurred to me that students could use the movie technique on their own, using a dictionary and the subtitles... and saving phrases to ask me (or another native speaker) about later. I've also thought of doing this with Spanish.

The only problem is that (until recently) video required a TV. You had to be stuck at home to do this. But now, there are ipods with video capability. So its possible to self-study with a movie/TV show AND be mobile.

This is a great opportunity. As Scott noted in a recent comment, video offers many advantages. First and foremost, video makes the language easier to comprehend. The images and actions help you understand what is being said... its a more information rich context than audio only.

At the moment I have a small ipod nano, which can't handle video. But in the future I may invest in a bigger ipod with video capability... and add the movie technique to my arsenal of language learning weapons!

San Francisco, CA