Библиографическое описание:

Асадуллина Л. И., Дусеев И. Р. Designing language teaching activities for feature films // Молодой ученый. — 2015. — №11. — С. 1250-1255.

Shallow Hal, a 2001 romantic comedy film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black and directed by the Farrelly brothers was selected to reinforce 2nd Conditional grammar structures and introduce American slang vocabulary to senior students of National Research Tomsk polytechnic university. Gwenyth Paltrow plays the love interest of Hal (Jack Black) in this comedy about a shallow man who falls in love with a very fat (but inwardly beautiful woman), because he is hypnotized into believing she is outwardly beautiful. Although the film received mixed reviews from critics, it was chosen to support the teaching process because of the number of reasons listed below.

1.         Compliance with the students’ language proficiency level owing to its great visuality helped the weaker students to follow the film and understand what was happening. There are a lot of non-verbal signals in a film, for instance gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, posture, proximity, appearance and setting that facilitated non-stop watching of meaningfully complete parts of the film and gave learners confidence in their ability to cope with the real situations they may face that provided variety, interest and stimulation.

2.         Clear message of the film which is handled very versatilely and deeply, involved every student into discussion that let every student get oral practise.

3.         Relevance of the topic to students’ needs provoked the students’ interest and kept them motivated during the whole stage.

4.         The humour was one of the motivating factors for some students. It made it easier to follow the story and provided a lot of slang words and expressions to be taught by the teacher.

5.         The length of the film met the requirements of classroom scheduling, course objectives and was shot enough to allow classroom time for pre-viewing and post-viewing activities.

In order to exploit films and videotapes fully in the ESL classroom, one should integrate pre-viewing, viewing, and post-viewing activities in to the lesson.

The primary purpose of previewing activities is to prepare students for the actual viewing of the film. Because comprehension is partially determined by a student's own background knowledge or «schemata», one of the most effective pedagogical strategies is to devise activities that access this knowledge. As the instructional purpose of viewing was mainly communicative, the pre-viewing activities included discussion tasks which generated more prediction, speculation and a chance to activate background schemata about the topic and content of the video to be viewed.

The first pre-viewing activity which was used to pre-teach vocabulary was giving the students a still image from the video and some vocabulary and phrases related to the theme of the video and asking them to talk about which of the words and phrases might be used in the video, and what the content of it might be.

After that students were asked to look up the meaning of the words in the dictionary.

Thirdly, a student opinion poll was conducted during which students interviewed their partners about issues related to the film. Three questions, generated by the teacher in advance were given to each student. The discussion that accompanied the poll helped prepare students for the content of the film, aiding comprehension. Students asked each other the same questions and should record their findings so that once the poll was completed, they could report findings to the entire class. The worksheet below was used to support the pre-viewing stage. (Worksheet 1)

Worksheet 1

Pre-viewing activities

1          Look at a still image from the film and talk about which of the words and phrases might be used in the video.

Student A

Student B

1.         inner beauty

2.         hypnosis

3.         suv

4.         pediatric burn

5.         maid

6.         birth defect

7.         mammoth

8.         clubbing

9.         thong

10.       overeating

11.       reverend

12.       tail

13.       morphine drip

14.       self confidence

15.       claustrophobia

16.       sarcasm

17.       courage

18.       brainwashing

19.       frat pack

20.       genetic abnormality

21.       goggles

1.                 cabin fever

2.                 reverse footage

3.                 dream girl

4.                 post hypnotic suggestion

5.                 peace corps

6.                 dating

7.                 superficiality

8.                 shallowness

9.                 underwear

10.             eye of the beholder

11.             immaturity

12.             crutches

13.             hypocrisy

14.             jealousy

15.             machismo

16.             cannonball dive

17.             obesity

18.             spina bifida

19.             deathbed

20.             nudity

21.             delusion

2 Work in pairs: Student A and Student B to look up the meaning of the words above in the dictionary.

3 In pairs ask your partner 3 questions below. Report your findings to the group.

1.                 Would you like to change anything in your appearance?

2.                 Is appearance of your friend(s) more important for you than their character?

3.                 Do you agree that appearance can be deceptive?

 

Some more possible pre-viewing activities suggested by include the following [1]:

1.         Problem solving. Students can be presented with a problem that highlights issues from the film. In small groups, students can discuss and attempt to solve the problem, later reporting possible solutions to the class. However, the possible disadvantage of such tasks can be the loss of interest when the plot of the film is partially revealed from the very beginning.

2.         Discussion of the film title. Students can examine the title of the film in order to hypothesize its content. This quick activity can be done as a class or in small groups, the latter all owing for more student participation.

3.         Brainstorming activities. The teacher can pose questions or elicit information that will link students' past experiences or background information with the film topic.

4.         Film summary. Students can skim a written summary of the film for the main idea(s) and/or scan the summary for specific details. Teacher generated questions will help students read for that information deemed most important for viewing comprehension. The teacher can also present a very short lecture summarizing the main points of the film. To facilitate note taking, a «skeleton» of the lecture notes can be distributed, with blanks for students to fill in missing information.

5.         Information gap exercises. After introducing students to the topic of film, they can fill in a grid similar to the one below:

What I know about the topic

What I am unsure about the topic

What I hope to learn about the topic

 

 

 

 

According to [2] when preparing viewing activities it is important to bear in mind that they should help the students to stay focused on the video, but not to overload them. As it is very difficult to watch a video and write at the same time, it is important to set and establish the purpose of the task before viewing, but to tell the students they can complete the tasks after viewing. One very common viewing task is to ask the students to check their answers from the pre-viewing task. This is an excellent activity as it links the stages of pre-viewing and viewing to one another.

There are a wide range of viewing tasks — which one the writer selects will depend on the instructional purpose or pedagogical goal of the lesson. Ideally, the students should get repeated opportunities for viewing the same short video so that they can maximize their exposure to the language input. The video activities can then focus on different elements each time they watch.

The activities listed in Worksheet 2 were used to check if the students found the correct meaning of vocabulary introduced at the pre-viewing stage and to reinforce 2nd conditional grammar structure studied by students before. (Worksheet 2)

Worksheet 2

While-viewing activities

1 Watch the video and check if you found the correct meaning of vocabulary in Worksheet 1.

2 Watch the video again and check the items of what happened in the video but would definitely be different if Rosie were actually as thin as Hal’s imaginary Rosie.

1)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Hal told her a bad taste joke about the underwear she was buying.

_____________

2)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Rosie didn’t understand Hal’s jokes.

_____________

3)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

He had to apologize for his jokes.

_____________

4)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

She ordered a huge meal.

_____________

5)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The waiter wasn’t surprised by the order

_____________

6)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The chair broke.

_____________

7)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Two guys made fun of Rosie’s takeout meal.

_____________

8)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

They didn’t envy Hal’s bragging about his girlfriend.

_____________

 

Stoller suggests some more variants of while-viewing tasks:

1.         Directed listening. Students can be asked to listen for general information or specific details considered crucial for comprehension. Similarly, students can be asked to consider a particularly relevant question.

2.         Information gathering. Similar to directed listening, students can be asked to gather pertinent information while viewing the film.

3.         Film interruptions. The film can be interrupted in progress to clarify key points in the thematic development of the film. In addition, a film can be interrupted so that students can discuss the content of the film up to that point and/or speculate about what will happen in the remaining portion of the film. The latter exercise is especially effective in dramatic films.

4.         Second screening. Films can be shown in their entirety a second time. However, the length of the film and the pre-viewing and post viewing activities may make this option undesirable. [1]

Donaghy and Whitcher give some general guidelines teachers should bear in mind while preparing film activities:

-        Students should need to watch the video to get the answer; you are not testing students’ knowledge of the world.

-        Ensure that items are evenly spread throughout the video. Don’t leave chunks of the video unexploited.

-        Make sure the items are in the same order as the information in the video.

-        Avoid overlap of items. Don’t test the same point in two different items.

Post-viewing activities often suggest the students extracting the main ideas of the film or guiding the students’ attention to meaning and production tasks. Sometimes these tasks can be extended to group or individual projects during class or as homework. In this way, video can be used as a resource providing the students with the content for subsequent tasks. [2]

Post-viewing activities can easily lend themselves to writing practice, speaking practice, or both. Ideally, the two skills can be linked, allowing students to use the information from a speaking activity, for example, in a writing assignment. [1]

To provide the detailed comprehension of the film the following post-viewing activities were conducted. (Worksheet 3)

Worksheet 3

Post-viewing activities

1 Rewrite the sentences in while-viewing activity 2 using the second conditional.

Use WOULD — if you’re sure, MIGHT/COULD — if you are not 100 % sure.

E.g. If Rosie _________________ (be) as thin as Hal’s imaginary Rosie,_____________________________ /

2 Complete the film summary with words from the box below.

twist

nothing

look

do

share

superficial

accuses

interpret

external

morbidly

equally-shallow

genuine

SUMMARY

Hal Larson (Jack Black), a 1. _____________________man and his 2. ______________________ friend Mauricio Wilson (Jason Alexander) both 3. ________________an interest in beautiful women, and try to act cool and hip when around them, but most women 4. ___________________ their wild dance moves as obnoxious and want nothing to 5. _____________________ with them. At work, Hal's co-workers accuse him of being shallow and caring about 6. _______________ but physical appearance, and ask him «when he's gonna get it». Hal wants to see women for their inner beauty, but his appreciation of physical beauty gets in the way. While going to work one day, by an unexpected 7. ________________ of fate, Hal meets the famous American life coach Tony Robbins while stuck in an elevator, and has a talk with him about himself and Tony. Robbins, understanding Hal's situation, hypnotizes him into seeing people's inner beauty, not their 8. _____________________ selves. Subsequently he falls in love with Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), a woman who appears to him to 9. ____________________ slender and beautiful due to her kind, generous nature, but is, in actuality, 10.__________________obese. At first, she 11. ________________ him of being childish, because she thinks he's pretending to date her, but later realises his feelings for her are 12. ______________.

3 Read the reviews below and match them to their headings.

An enjoyable flick

1.                 I know many complain it wasn’t as funny as past farelly movies such as «Something about Mary» or «Kingpin». But it wasn’t supposed to be. It was intended to be a comedy, and it was extremely successful, and it was very funny, however it wasn’t supposed to be non-stop, grossout laughs like their past efforts. I always liked the Farelly Brothers's movies because while hilarious, they always had an underlying sweetness to them. I think this one prevailed the most in that department- I think 'Shallow Hal' is an incredibly sweet, and even more upon second viewing, just a charming, great movie-watching experience. I think if people give it another chance and cut it some slack in the non-stop jokes department, they will see it for the great, enjoyable movie with a message that it really is.

Incredibly sweet, charming movie

2.                 «Shallow Hal» is the best film about love, dating, and being shallow that I have seen since «The Tao Of Steve». This is also the best Farrelly Brothers film I have ever seen. It even beats out «There's Something About Mary». Jack Black rocks as 'Shallow' Hal Larsen, a man who wants the perfect woman but ends up falling for the perfect woman. Gwyneth Paltrow did very well as Hal's overweight but big-hearted girlfriend. Not only were the characters well-written, the story was well executed and well plotted. It was unexpected in several ways and I really liked it. The Farrelly Brothers score a critically-acclaimed in-park home run with «Shallow Hal». I give this film 10 out of 10!

Reinforcing stereotypes

3.                 Do you judge a person — particularly a woman — by her outward appearance? If you do, you're «shallow» and that's the message played out in this comedy.

The humor in here is good, very funny in spots. There are plenty of jokes and sight gags. If you are obese and very sensitive, then skip this film because you won't appreciate some of the humor in this film. But, if you can laugh at yourself, you'll enjoy it too — and especially the message this film brings.

Jack Black was pretty much of an unknown actor when this came out, but he's well-known now after School Of Rock, King Kong and other films. Gwyneth Paltrow everyone knows. She looked very pretty in here, maybe the best I've ever seen her. Jason Alexander and Joe Viterelli provide good supporting help. By the way, it was strange hearing Viterelli with an Irish accent. This is a guy who almost always plays Mafia types.

Anyway, this is still a pretty funny story with, of course, a good message about judging a book by its cover.

Funny film about lacking depth

4.                 Part comedy, drama, and romance this one was a rather good little movie to watch. Black and Paltrow were great and Jason Alexander was hilarious. The movie is about a guy named Hal who is a rather decent guy, but he has a problem. When picking women he only looks at the outer beauty of a woman...this is explained in the opening scene. Hal gets trapped in an elevator with a guy who opens Hal's mind to the inner beauty of women. Hal then suddenly finds the more unattractive girls perfect for him and this leads to some funny scenes. This also leads him to Rose Mary a gal he finds perfect, but everyone else sees a 300lb gal. This movie says a lot about how shallow our society is and does a good job of it. Though I don't think every unattractive or fat gal is beautiful on the inside and every attractive gal is ugly on the inside as the movie implies. The movie also could have been more clear that people Hal already knows would still look the same. I just wish ladies were as open and approachable as the movie portrays.

Cute little pic-not great but good

5.                 I could not stop watching this film because I was desperate to know exactly how the Farrelly brothers could possibly get themselves out of the huge pit they had dug for themselves. This film claims to be challenging what is considered beautiful in our society. In one section a character expresses the moral heart of the film by saying that «beauty is in the eye of the beholder» and by suggesting that we are hypnotised into believing what is and is not beautiful by the media etc. Fair enough! However, all representations of inner beauty are portrayed in clichéd and predictable stereotypes of female beauty in exactly the same way you would find in any Hollywood blockbuster. Thus, the film reinforces the same notions of beauty that it claims it is trying to undermine. Also, all fat people are not nice with a «good sense of humour», this is as HUGE stereotype. I am fat, unpleasant and not funny.

Pretty Funny Film With A Good Message

6.                 Paltrow's pretty good here, I enjoyed this movie a lot. Not great but certainly good, carries a nice message and it's a good premise.

However, a lot of people did get offended by this. The movie kind of does that to itself-though the theme here is «everybodys' beautiful» etc etc and meant to look at how much women are judged by their looks, the movie wasn't as bold as it could have been. If it REALLY wanted to take hold of this issue there would have been more of the «heavy paltrow» not just a few quick shots. Shows the thin paltrow a lot more and it shouldn't. Does anyone get the feeling the movie was almost afraid of it's own subject matter? That's what takes the «oomph» out of the movie and makes it a sweet little picture rather then an outstanding film. Still, it's OK-I know many people, both heavy and thin who saw this, most were not offended by the picture but had the movie aimed for serious movie making instead of predictable Hollywood fare(the former would have been more appropriate for the subject matter at hand) the movie would have been a lot better.

4 Write your own review of the film using the film vocabulary and the models above.

 

As a round-up students were asked to discuss the following English proverbs on the topic of the film to encourage students speaking and to create the atmosphere of completion:

1.                 All that glitters is not gold.

2.                 Appearances are deceiving.

3.                 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

4.                 Beauty is only skin deep.

According to Donaghy and Whitcher, if the instructional purpose of the video viewing is communicative, it is important to select follow-up activities which encourage the students to reflect on and explore the concepts or ideas contained in the video. We should try to get a personal response from the students which may help to consolidate learning. This goal can often be achieved by getting students to connect with characters in the video. They can talk about the character to a friend, send messages to that character or talk about the details that describe that character's physical traits and/or special skills. [2]

Thus, the following post-viewing activities can be designed by the teacher:

1.                 Roleplay. You can give students instructions on how to roleplay a situation related to the theme of the video.

2.                 Discussion statements. You can give students statements related to the ideas and issues raised in the video which they have to discuss.

3.                 Discussion questions. Giving students questions related to the ideas and issues raised in the video and having the students discuss them in pairs or small groups is an engaging task, but you should try to personalise the questions.

Stoller suggests one more activity — alternative endings, when, especially with dramatic storylines, students can work together to come up with an alternative ending and report it in an oral and/or written activity. [1]

So, it is obvious, that films are a powerful communication media that can greatly enhance and diversify an ESL curriculum. With careful selection and purposeful planning, films can motivate students in the second language classroom, thereby facilitating language learning. Moreover, the integration of pre-viewing, viewing, and post viewing activities into the film lesson encourages natural language use and language skill development making films valuable teaching tools.

 

References:

 

1.                  Stoller, F. 1988. Films and Videotapes in the ESL/EFL Classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Teachers of English to speakers of other languages. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED299835.pdf

2.                  Donaghy K., Whitcher A. How to write film and video activities. Training course for ELT writers. 2015. ELT Teacher 2 Writer at Smashwords. 42 p.

3.                  Асадуллина Л. И. Жанр ситуационной комедии в обучении иностранному языку (на примере ситкома «Выбирайте выражения») [Текст] / Л. И. Асадуллина, И. Р. Дусеев // Молодой ученый. — 2015. — № 10. — С. 1082–1086.

4.                  Асадуллина Л. И. Компетенции преподавателя вуза в смешанном обучении [Текст] / Л. И. Асадуллина, И. Р. Дусеев // Молодой ученый. — 2015. — № 10. — С. 1086–1088.

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