Monday, September 12, 2011

Saying the Unsaid - Silent Movies and Reported Speech

Teaching reported speech is certainly not that difficult. When I teach it, I always explain to students that it is used to retell stories, translate conversations between a foreigner and someone who does not speak his or her language, or even engage in a conversation with three or more people in a noisy environment such as night club or a rock concert. I also try to recreate communicative situations that make it as authentic and genuine as possible. If I could take them to a rock concert or a night club, it would be great. Despite my efforts, my students cooperation, and the wonderful ideas teachers always have when planning classes , I am not always happy with the size of dialogues or the quality of language produced by students in follow up activities. You know, we teachers always think that there is room for improvement.
This semester while I was planning one more class to teach reported speech, I thought that silent movies would just be the perfect means to create a situation for having students reporting a third party utterances and actions to each other. How did I do it? I did it in two phases and two places.
In Class
I first showed them a short silent movie (I used a silent version of Star Wars available in You Tube- It lasts only a little more than a minute). Next I paired students and asked them to take turns reporting what was being said right after I paused the movie. So I played a bit of the movie and paused for reporting. It was quick and fun and they really enjoyed doing it.
In the Computer Lab
While we were still in class, I gave them instructions. I told them to go to Youtube and type the search term silent movies. I also told them to choose movies that lasted three minutes or less. Besides that, I instructed them to do as we had done in class: they should first play the entire movie and then play, pause, report. They did it in 25 minutes and posted their reported versions along with the movie straight to our posterous class blog. We later corrected and the posts.The first drafts, however, were amazingly quite accurate to my surprise.

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