Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT FILM?
Choosing the right language level for a film should be based on two factors: content and how you use subtitles. If the film is more adult in content, you might want to limit its use to advanced levels. Good sense should prevail and teachers should be sensitive and careful to observe district policies regarding film content for the classroom.
HOW SHOULD I USE SUBTITLES?
The issue of subtitles is a far more complex question but a critical one. As a good speaker, my eyes are still drawn to the subtitles and I become a lazy listener. Can we realistically expect our students not to read subtitles if they are on the screen when we ourselves have trouble not reading them? Most educators believe that subtitles must be covered or removed to derive the greatest benefit in listening comprehension.
For high school students in the fourth year of language learning and beyond (intermediate or beyond at the college level), subtitles should be removed during both screenings. Students do not need to understand every word to comprehend a film. In fact, questions are based on what students see as well as what students hear so every student can be successful in answering questions.
For first and second year students who will need to see subtitles during one of the two screenings, there are two ways of handling this. You may show the segment to students with the subtitles removed the first time. They must then work at deciphering the text. Then the second time through, show the film with the subtitles exposed so that they can pick up what they missed the first time around.
The second method is just the opposite. Allow students to see the segment with subtitles exposed the first time so that comprehension is established. The second time through, remove the subtitles so that students listen for language. We feel that the first method challenges students more, but you must choose what is best for your group.
Therefore, you may use the same film (content allowing) for advanced as well as lower levels. What changes are your expectations for how much and to what degree the students produce the language. For advanced classes, remove the subtitles for both viewings. For lower levels, allow students to see the subtitles during one screening. By the way, there is no sophisticated way to cover subtitles on videos. We just cover them with a sheet of paper, that is, if you are still using videos. Most DVDs give you the option of removing subtitles.
HOW CAN I USE THE LESSONS FOR DIFFERENT STUDENTS?
These lesson plans can be used for multiple levels in the same classroom, but you need to tailor the activities to the learner. The more advanced the level, the more you can expect from the student in terms of language production. So much is communicated visually through the medium of film that all students can be successful.
The third year student (early intermediate at the college level) is the most problematic. Which way do you go as far as whether to see the film with or without subtitles? Here, it depends on the difficulty of the film and the level of your students. If you feel the language in the film is simple enough, cover the subtitles both times. If the language in the film is more difficult, allow students to see subtitles for one screening. Just remember that your students are capable of functioning in the language more than they think they can. Don't underestimate their ability. Within a few lessons, they will come to realize that they don't need those subtitles.
WHEN DO I DO THE LESSONS?
Since most of teacher resource books have approximately nine lessons, it would be unrealistic for most teachers to take two weeks out of their curriculum to study a movie. We suggest doing our lesson plans one day per week. Some teachers like to show a movie on Mondays. This way, students either don't have homework over the weekend or the homework assigned isn't necessarily due until Tuesday. In addition, if the entire lesson is not completed in one period, the teacher can pick up and re-enter some of the communicative activities on subsequent days.
Students have been known to beg and plead to see the entire film all at once. They get so involved they are unwilling to wait. Don't give in. They do remember the film from week to week, and this gives them something to look forward to. They will consider "movie day" a day off from work. The irony, of course, is that they are working on all the important language skills--listening, reading, speaking and writing.THE INTERNETAsk your students to research various aspects of the film under study via the Internet. There are many web sites out there that provide plot summaries and reviews of interest. Some sites have interesting historical and cultural information. Songs are also connected to certain films.
WHAT ABOUT ANIMATED FILMS?
A number of animated films are included in FilmArobics offerings. The language is generally accessible to beginning language students. Since most students are already familiar with the films, basic comprehension is not an issue. Students can truly concentrate on language. Although animated films are normally not culturally authentic, the language is 100% authentic and enables our beginning learners to take advantage of the power of film. They should not be deprived of the experience of film just because they are beginners.
WHY ARE THE LESSON PLANS NOT DOWNLOADABLE?
A number of people have asked for the lessons to be downloadable. While it is 100% correct that a downloadable version of our materials would be much easier to deliver, it unfortunately this makes the product very easy to illegally distribute. It is for this reason we have chosen to provide the product in its current form. Our authors are all teachers and we have a strong commitment to protect their work and intellectual property.
CAN I DUPLICATE THE MATERIALS?
You have permission to duplicate any and all student activity sheets for your students. Duplication of teacher lessons and explanations is a violation of copyright.
A FINAL WORD
There are more than enough activities in the packets so that you can pick and choose what is of interest to you and your students. You do not have to do every exercise. If you have too many exams to grade, perhaps this is not the week to assign a composition. Perhaps you think of another great activity. Just add it to the packet. Mold these packets to fit your teaching style and your students. With FilmArobics lesson plans, you don't have to start from scratch.
Activities were designed to address all learning styles as well as addressing the multiple intelligences. They meet the 5Cs as well—Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities. There is something for everyone. You can also integrate grammar units you are working on. For example, ask students to write about or relate what they saw using the past and imperfect tenses. Or propose some "if" statements that they have to complete using the correct tense. The possibilities are endless.