By Eve Ross - Beijing Institute of Machinery, China
At a National TESOL Conference in one of the workshops we were shown 10-15 minutes of a movie with no sound. Then we were asked to sum up the story and to guess in which country it had been filmed.
It was amazing just how much information you glean without using words. I recalled having read that 85% of communication is non-verbal and this exercise really proved it. In such an exercise you use all of your observational skills to understand. A dictionary is of no use. It's reassuring to the students who find out just how much that can understand, given the opportunity.
After all participants in the workshop had made their contributions, we were then told what the gist of the story was (we were about 90%) and that it took place in Bolivia (I had guessed Peru). Everyone seemed pleased with the outcome.
Of course you could always continue by playing the excerpt again with sound , this time listening for English, or simply use this exercise as a one time cogent example of the power and importance of the students' own abilities and how they should be used more.