Hollywood has a lot to offer language classes. Here are some ways to use it in your language classes.
Many actors love telling stories. Combine this inclination with wanting (and often needing) to make opportunities for their own work as actors. Remember when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote Good Will Hunting? They won an Oscar and started their stellar careers in film. Your students can write their own films easily, too. Microsoft Word has a screenwriting add-on that correctly formats stories for the screen. Courier 12-point font creates documents that make one page equal to one minute of screen time- essential for the industry to plan programs.
Recycle any and all everyday situational tasks (i.e. go to the train station, order at a restaurant). Write a film, get your script edited by the teacher, film it and post it on your YouTube channel. You now have your own film festival of language tasks for them all to refer to. Students can use the channel to prepare for a task-based speaking exam.
Intermediates create with language. Adapting short stories for the screen, or changing something in the setting, are great ways to get them to attend to what is happening in a story and create something new and memorable. They will get tons of input in the process. Input plus time engaged in tasks adds up to proficiency.
Storyboards. Many filmmakers plan out their films on storyboards, concentrating on the larger concept and visuals. They then return and write what will happen under those pictures. The actual script, with dialogue and action written, is last. Students can create scenes and share them in class. The activity provides writing, reading, listening and speaking practice. They can also write a treatment of their movie, which is a two or three page narrative of their film that explains everything that will happen- extended discourse practice.
Actors must learn a script. In a play, the actor must thoroughly know all of their lines, as well as their movements, gestures, exits and entrances before opening night. A film actor must learn scenes, often out of sequence and changed at the last minute, in a matter of hours. These jobs require great attention to detail and the ability to bring words and stories in black and white to life- not dissimilar to what we want students to do with the text we present them in their foreign language classes.
Students can make radio plays (emphasis on pronunciation, perhaps) of everyday situational dialogues, or perform them in class.
Reader’s theatre provides numerous opportunities to develop a deep understanding of the language presented in the piece.
Intermediate and advanced-range/B and C
Students can perform an extended play. The repetition required to master a script well enough to perform it for an audience creates the necessity for input and practice for mastery of the structures of the play in context. The teacher can create multiple casts, where students are learning different roles in each cast, giving many people lots of input and practice speaking.
A fun activity to do with all levels is to take language from the script (or dialogue) and have them create real-life interviews. The interviews can be done amongst themselves, or for a guest speaker. Video chat also makes it possible to invite guest speakers in the target culture country to be asked the interview questions by the students.
Teachers can also put scripts online and have them read by a native speaker at a site like rhinospike.com. MP3 files can be made and students can hear their lines read by a native speaker as they are being learned. Actors routinely listen to recordings of nuances of speech to accurately portray a character’s accent and speech patterns.
Throughout all of this, you are the director. Your students have an opportunity to be immersed in the target language while they listen to your notes, learn commands as you block (tell them where they will be on stage) and develop their movement in the play.
Not an actor? Too shy? No worries- there are lots of roles that are essential behind the scenes. Films and plays need set and costume designers. Costume and set designers must research primary sources, such as art from the period, to accurately depict the clothing and sets that the audience will see. This is an area that can be combined with many other activities already mentioned. This is exactly what designers do: they take a close look at the setting of the story and recreate the visual aspects to help bring the story to life accurately. Imagine how much history and culture your students will learn.
One example might be designing the costumes for a stage adaptation of a piece of literature you are reading in French. The students could find examples appropriate to the setting to share from their research. They can then share these, recycling lots of everyday language to describe clothing. The set design could involve the recycling of language to talk about nature, living spaces and more. The activities would also be a natural fit to explore the theme of beauty and aesthetics.
Looking for more activities for your classes? https://reallifelanguage.lpages.co/20-fun-activities-to-learn-a-language/