Monday, March 14, 2016

Film Unit ideas for Spanish 4 and beyond

Mar de Plástico 

Cine Latino 

This month I got to introduce some of my favorite short and full feature films and series from Latin American and Spain. The goal was to get students talking in Spanish much like they do in their English classes. Here is what I did the facilitated the lesson:

Lesson's sequence

1. Conversation Circle 
To introduce the lesson, we discussed favorite books and movies. These lively conversations inevitably led to words and ideas that would comprise our vocabulary list. From here I created a simple vocabulary list and accompanying activities to facilitate the unit.  The list was used as a point of reference and also provided students with the vocabulary for describing, analyzing and writing about films Film unit vocabulary and activities.

Click here for the initial questions (freebie) students engaged in prior to the unit.  There are two sets of questions. Students walk around the class (sort of like musical chairs) and then stop. They interview their partner on their partner's movie interests and the partner interviews them on their favorite actor and so on. The questions are different to spice up the conversation a bit.

I'd also like to put a plug in for this amazing Movie Sheet  I got from one of the teachers on TPT. This sheet saves my life every time I am in a bind. If you ever show a movie or even a Telenovela, just have a view of these handy to avoid students annoying asking " Do we take notes? What do we do?

Ancillary speaking and visually activity 
 This Pelipareja activity that you see to the left was retrieved from a website (I do not remember where). It was free to the public and has some really great authentic input to drive home concepts and vocabulary.  Students read the descriptions and match the movie. You could also cut up the pictures and descriptions and have students do a matching activity as part of a circuito or station. I used this both in class and during my 45 minute Spanish club. It was a hit.  Click here for the copy. 

Preliminary input and interest 

2.  To get students excited about the unit in addition to providing them with resources they could view on their own beyond the four walls of the class,  I featured a few trailers of Spanish-speaking series. Most of the series are from Spain (I have A3series- a new channel offered on DirectTV).  However, it also highlights Spain's dominance in this particular market. Series such as Gran Hotel and El Internado are also popularly viewed by both Spanish-Speaking and non -Spanish-Speaking audiences. Since we had been working on the subjunctive in this particular class, I organized activities to include that grammatical point. This activity Hoja de actividad worked the vocabulary and grammar.

Trailers o Avances to the series. 
El principe 

3. As we begin to discuss how to analyze film. we looked at camera angles and shots in terms of their importance in bringing the story alive.  Here is the activity with the video that I used to help students get a sense of the language used to describe angles in addition to their importance. This is the second year I've included the angle shots. The first year I had introduced them was disastrous as I assumed that students had some familiarity with photography (we have AP Photo at my school). Lesson learned! This year we covered all but only emphasized a few.

Film shots in Spanish (the url of the video is embedded in the document).

4.  Film Carrousel
This was something different I did this year. We have 90 minute block periods so this worked perfectly for one class. I selected three films. The vocabulary as well as questions front loading some the films content and themes were included in the anticipatory set prior to seeing the film (see the PPT).  The order was as follows:

- Complete previewing activities
- View cortometraje and jot down new vocabulary words
- Turn to a partner to discuss the themes, characters, plot and overall impression of the film (next year I will include the camera shots)
- Engage in a class discussion about themes.

Power Point used to launch the film carrousel activity

Coming soon!

Activity sheets for students

Useful websites

Film Vocabulary in Spanish

!Más actividades por delante!

Cortometraje Eres
 Interpretive Mode Visual Literacy

This year I used a ton of Latin American short and long feature films associated with a particular theme. One of my favs is the short film "Eres" which, is aptly named because all the friends of the protagonist preface every interaction with  " Eres."  This is the second year I have used this film, available on here on Youtube. Check to make sure the video is still available before downloading the 14 page packet. 

The film is superior to touching on the identity and even self-esteem. However, the dialogue can be difficult to understand when you add the speed of light pace of the conversations and other nuances.  To facilitate listening and to lower the filter,  I created some listening, viewing and reading activities to offset the language barrier The cool thing is that most of the vocabulary that I have included  is in very clear sound bites through the film.

My students really loved the film because they really saw how other people form our identity. Many students think they are "themselves" but this film points out our nature to conform as well as how to preserve our own identity- at least that was the lesson I extrapolated. Please enjoy and consider giving me a rating. If you have any questions, please send me an email at

One more thing...
The film is more of an PG-13. It is about 10 minutes and my students have liked it for the past two years (or 1.5 years). There is no nudity although there is a 5 second showing of two of the characters kissing while falling onto the bed.