Making Movies Meaningful: Writing and speaking activities

I found another treasure in the database compiled by the participants of my EVO session. It’s called Bombay TV, and the site allows you to put your own subtitles on movies. There is a collection of short clips to choose from, and the program is user-friendly. You can share the end product with others via e-mail or watch it immediately after typing in the text. Whether you use this site and its collection or not, the basic concept of adding original subtitles has instructional potential in the language classroom. Consider the possibilities:

  • In the classroom, have students watch a short clip in a language no one is familiar with (or turn the sound off). Depending on the number of characters in the selected scene (two? three?), place students in small groups. They must write an appropriate dialog for the scene. Monitor and assist as needed. Then have the groups present their dialog in synch with the clip, with each person assuming a role.


  • If you’re up for the technical challenge, you could have students record their dialogs in the school lab and submit audio files to you. If you have editing software, you could produce the clip with original dialog(s). After viewing each clip as a class (which will likely be very entertaining), pose comprehension questions as well as questions for discussion/ predicting.


  • If you choose to use the site, you could turn this into a larger group activity. Require groups to title the movie and write a plot summary to accompany the clip.


  • Depending on the clip you choose, you could target specific vocabulary or grammatical structures. By requiring use of specific words or structures in the subtitles, you might actually help students who need more guidance.

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