My students are constantly trying to convince me to see a movie in class. However, it’s rare that I show a full length film. My intermediate students don’t have the language skills to view a full 90 minute movie in Spanish, and many of the movies filmed in Spanish speaking countries have inappropriate language or scenes sprinkled here and there. I still try and incorporate authentic language via films, but I use short clip throughout the year with a variety of lesson plans. Here are five ideas to use in class.
1.Show a movie clip and have the students ask each other questions about what they saw. I usually will show the clip and model the kinds of questions they can ask, then I will show the clip again & have the students jot down questions for each other as they see the clip again.
¿Dónde vive la chica? ¿Qué ropa lleva?
¿Qué estación es? ¿Quién está con la chica?
2. Show a movie clip with specific conflict between two or three characters. Now have partners role play a short conversations between the characters. I keep this very short about-- 4-6 lines of dialog per character, and I encourage my students to come up with the conversation off the top of their heads rather than write the conversation. I love this Pixar collection of short films for this activity. Most of Pixar’s shorts have little dialogue, and will have vocabulary that beginning students can manipulate.
3. Another variation to the activity above that focuses more on written communication, is to have the students narrate or describe what will happen next in the movie. I usually keep it short-- maybe a paragraph, and then ask them to share their work in small groups.
4. I always introduce preterit vs imperfect with a short movie clip. My favorite one in the last couple of years has been a 10-12 minute section from El Orfanato. The selection I chose has little dialogue, and with a little bit of backstory, the students can follow the action because it is so visual. I will stop the movie at strategic times to explain what tense I would use if I were re-telling the story to a friend. The next few days, I will continually refer to the examples from the movie in class when explaining preterit or imperfect. Of course you could use a movie clip to introduce or practice other specific grammar points.
5. A short clip from a movie can be used to introduce a cultural topic or theme. Pan’s Labyrinth comes to mind for advanced students as a way to start studying the Civil War in Spain.
What other things do you do with movie clips? Can you recommend other movies that are high interest and/or school appropriate in the target language? I'd love to hear your ideas.