Sunday, November 16, 2008

Movie "telling"

In Beijing, there's a man called "Dawei" who established a small-scale movie-theatre in his house and invited a group of special viewers, the sight-impaired, to "watch". The way he used was telling.

Each time his small cinema put on a classic Chinese or foreign movie, he let the audiences know about the movie by telling its scene. He tells almost all the necessary details from an actor's gesture to a whole war. All the audiences listen attentatively and express their satisfaction about Dawei's movie telling and say that they feel as if they were "seeing" the movie.

Actually, it isn't an easy job to "tell" a movie because of the time limit within which s/he has to convey as much information as possible to the audiences in order for them to comprehend the movie. What often appears is that some details are lost when trying to talk about others. Luckily, Mr. Dawei has mastered this pretty well by practicing a lot.

From this, I suggest that this "movie telling" be introduced to English teaching, especially  oral courses. Specifically speaking, in the oral English class, the teacher plays a movie known to the students on a DVD and picks up students to relate what they see. The movie can be divided into several part according to the scenes, and after each "scene telling", the teacher replays it and the whole class have a disscusion of the telling. In the end, students bring about a best telling version of the scene they think. Then the teacher makes a comment on it and proceeds to the next scene...

From the telling, students learn how to tell a story in English, how to pick the right or appropriate words to describe an action, an object, and how to use expressions as simple as possible since oral English prefers simplicity. They may feel time pressed to do the "telling" in the beginning period, but I believe they'll accustom to it as time passes.

In fact, it doesn't have to be movies, cartoons are OK as well. What matters is the difficulty students encounter when they perform their telling. After all, "hard" movies are no good for teaching.

Besides, this method can perhaps only be used among students with intermeidate and advanced level of English since their vocabulary and grammar is sufficient enough for the job.

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