Going Beyond MovieTalks

flexing Alex

MovieTalks are now pretty common in a CI -based classroom. Teachers are sharing videos and creating lessons at a rapid pace. One can easily find clips that lend themselves to classroom topics or learning objectives.  With the internet, there is no doubt that the quantity of clips are endless but hopefully at the same time, quality control can be maintained by going deep into a story in order to allow students the higher order thinking we so often hear in the teacher world. Blaine and Von Ray presented similar ideas in their advanced workshop in 2014 called “The Power of Going Deep.”

By going deep in MovieTalks, we can allow students to be apart of the story creation process and foster the development of their imaginations, no matter the age group. Once the story is experienced, the purpose of narration and questioning can be understood by our audience.  I believe that perhaps a bit of imagination and creativity can be taken away from showing a completed story (instead of creating it with a class through Asking a Story or parallel characters) BUT that is only if we think the story exists on its own and nothing came before or happens afterwards.


Meet Alex, we see him in a short animation trying to exercise and we assume he wants big muscles.  In this story he especially wants to impress a girl that is hanging out on the balcony across from his bedroom window. This is the gist of the story but we can discuss so much more than what we see in the clip.

For example, who does Alex live with?  Alex can be single and lives in a bachelor pad or perhaps he lives with his parents or as I like to think he is in his late 20’s still living with his mom (this is one back story that my students created this year). To me, that is funny and we might even get to mention something about all the chores his mom makes him do since he doesn’t work.  Perhaps he works part time at various jobs.   He is kind of thin…what does he eat everyday? Oops, he fell down the stairs…is he coordinated enough to participate in sports?

See what I did there?  I incorporated family, chores, professions, food, and sports before even finishing the video. The back story could last for days and students are a part of these conversations every step of the way. The characters help create the Personalized Questions and Answer situations.

Let’s further analyze Alex.  Physically he is not very muscular, he seems tall, lazy, serious, and maybe possibly even romantic.  Contrasting ser and estar or using n’est pas and est sentences can fit in nicely with this type of story.  What is he wearing…is that a “bro tank?” The discussion could also go into elements of teenage life that can be serious.  Perhaps Alex grew up being bullied by bigger kids so he is motivated to exercise and defend himself. What about the girl he sees on the balcony? She has a story too. Is this the prettiest girl he has ever seen?  Did Alex ever have a girlfriend or does he have lots of girlfriends?  We possibly can narrate and interact in the past or using probability with such a story.  Continuing the idea of the girl…who is she?  Does she live in that house?  Is she a visitor or did Alex always hope for this opportunity? We discover that she is blind…what is her life like?

Oh cool…what is like to be in class blindfolded for the day?

These are all ideas that can be discussed in the target language and are matters that call for the use of our imaginations. Using parallel characters, adding locations, surprise details and PQA sessions can take place using MT’s. This is actually no different than what Blaine has ever shared. The main difference that occurs by using a video is that the visual representation is presented very directly.  Using MovieTalks has endless possibilities and although students are quickly given a visual representation of the story, we do not have to sacrifice the magic that takes place in story creation.  The limitless ideas of “behind the scenes” and back story allows for customization and creativity with our audiences.

There is always more to the the story than just what is on the surface. Happy storytelling!

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  • Thank you for sharing your great ideas. This is my 1st year doing the movie talk. I have only done a few thus far and usually commit just 2 days to it. The 1st day we watch and discuss. Day 2 we read, discuss, and write. I like the idea of giving it more time and bringing in other themes for creative discussion.

    Senor McPeters 4 years ago Reply

    • Awesome ! Good for you…sounds like you are doing a great job. Sometimes it is challenging to tell a good story in one sitting. What has been your favorite MT so far?

      mikecoxon55 4 years ago Reply

      • Alma was the 1st one we did and the kids loved the twist at the end. The next one was the Octipodi and that one was a struggle since the vocab was beyond where we were at as a class. We’ve also done one with 2 Wildebeest (simple) and el Soltero. Going to do the one about Alex next. I would say Alma was the best one so far.

        Senor McPeters 4 years ago Reply

      • Octapodi is one of my favs. You are right, that one has extensive vocabulary, so many verbs. I will use that one in March because so much is going on. I posted a sript for Alex…feel free to copy and edit it to fit your students needs. Thanks for sharing!

        mikecoxon55 4 years ago Reply

  • Thank you for your post and for breaking down a bit how this works. I am very new teaching (finishing my credential now and already teaching full time) and I am pretty new to CI. I will be trying this in my class this week as we are going to be addressing reflexive verbs.
    Je vous remercie

    Holly Willaume 1 year ago Reply

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