15 ideas for using Film in the MFL classroom

Today’s post will be about using Film in the MFL classroom and sharing some of the tips and advice I learned from a CILT A Level conference in 2010 run by Tyneside Cinema on using short film in MFL and a recent workshop run by Adalgisa Serio and the Manchester Association for Language Learning on the same topic. From both workshops I picked up a whole load of resources and ideas, far too many to mention here so I’d like to just include the ones that stood out for me.

Firstly Adalgisa introduced the idea that “film is one of the closest mediums to a real life” – (setting, dialogues, interaction, regional accents and time periods). I really liked this idea and how the students when watching a film/clip take a lot of these things in unconsciously especially if you have just one focus.

Film is ideal for introducing cultural, socio-political and historical elements perfect for A2 and encourages students to reflect & analyse social phenomena such as the difference between immigration vs emigration. When students watch and listen to a dialogue within film, it provides an excellent model for ‘speaking in context’.

Obviously using full length films is an option more suited to GCSE and A Level but there are so many other things you can include into your day-to-day lessons such as short films, cartoons, silent clips and microshorts (which are films of 60-90 seconds in length-see filminute) which can be used for icebreakers, quick language points, listening skills, and as a discussion starter.

Here is a great short called Oktapodi that was nominated for an Oscar in 2009 for Animated Short Film of the year:

Ideas for activities before during & after to ensure active watching:

  1. Use still images to elicit ideas & try to predict story line/characters
  2. Show the first scene, what came before/will come after?
  3. Video without sound or just listen with no visual
  4. Tick boxes to check comprehension in Target Language while watching film
  5. Map the changes in character/mood, is there a relationship between them?
  6. Spot the function/grammar
  7. Play soundtrack & have a tick list for moods – joyeux/terrifiant/angoissant
  8. True/False activity
  9. Cut off final few frames for prediction
  10. Re-order the plot
  11. Who said what – match the characters & the quotes
  12. Dramatize using still images as prompts – no script to encourage     spontaneous language
  13. Open dialogues – imagine the other character (eg dialogue on the telephone) or imagine what the people in the scene are thinking
  14. Rewrite a scene from the film – how else could it have started/ended?
  15. Interview the director/characters = to improve questioning skills

There were so many ideas that I came away with a head buzzing with them and knowing that just 2 or three could take up a whole lesson. What I liked about Adalgisa’s workshop was that she had thought about how to get the very most out of using films and film clips in the MFL classroom and this was shown through the abundance of activities to cover different points of the lesson and film watching to make sure the students were fully engaged and not watching passively. If you have any more ideas please do post below

Some useful websites:

  1. Best French Short Films
  2. Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals
  3. Spanish Films – VideoMaria
  4. CILT A Level language conference including notes for Film workshop
  5. FILTA (Film in Language Education) excellent resources but you do have to request to join for some reason
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4 Responses to 15 ideas for using Film in the MFL classroom

  1. Great post, Michelle! I have more than 1500 French YouTube videos on my channel for teachers and students: http://www.youtube.com/user/sduckworth100
    There is also an “Animations sans mots” playlist to do activities as you described in your post.

  2. Steve Smith says:

    Very good post, Michelle. I’ve linked to your blog on http://www.frenchteacher.net (blog page).

  3. Great post – feel like sharing one or two of these on the MFLideasfactory? We don’t have much in the way of film on there just yet!

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