Sep 2, 2008

Important Information

Teaching Grammar with Movie Segments

Movie segments can be a fun, less threatening alternative to assess students’ learning of various grammar points, such as reported speech, verb tenses, modal verbs, among others. This blog will provide a number of fun, challenging activities and tips to develop your own tasks.

Teaching grammar is often exhausting and not appealing to students. Teachers usually spend several sessions dealing with the same grammar point. The teacher can certainly provide the students with fun activities to foster learning. However, when it comes to assessing the students’ achievement of a certain grammar point, teachers often rely on traditional, mechanical exercises that help them check whether their lesson goals have been met. These exercises can formally state the grammatical features the teacher wants to test or make sure the students have actually learned. For the student, though, this is a threatening moment that demands concentration, introspection, analysis, and tension. Because he/she has been working with the grammar point for such a long time, they tend to be stressed out for the assessment activities, feedback that is crucial for the teacher to know what features of the lesson still need reinforcement. The teacher can find more exciting and less formal tools to assess the achievement of teaching goals

It is evident that movie segments are extremely attractive to most of the students. Watching a short movie segment is a moment when the students can listen to genuine language in context, plug off from the classroom environment, speculate about possibilities, come up with opinions about a certain topic, and have fun in the classroom. Using video segments to assess the students’ performance can be an enjoyable, attractive, and effective manner to provide the teacher with consistent feedback of the students’ learning.

Why Use Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals?

• Students like movie segments
• A break from previous grammar sessions
• Less threatening than traditional tests
• Students use the grammar point based on genuine language
• Connection between listening comprehension and grammar practice
• Instant feedback
• Assessment in a relaxed atmosphere

Tips on How to Prepare an Effective Assessment Tool

• Segment length: from 2 to 7 minutes
• Use subtitles in English
• Always prepare a written exercise to assess the grammar point
• Consider both the content of the segment and the grammar goal
• The whole activity should not last longer than 20 to 25 minutes
• Peers may work individually or in pairs
• Do not let the students do the exercises while they are watching the segment
• Make sure the students write down their answers
• Provide the students with feedback as well


Anonymous said...

Hello, Claudio! My name's Ana Luiza and I'm an English teacher here in RJ. I like working with videos, as you do. I was checking some of your activities... they are nice... :) Would you mind if I used some of them with my students? I've used some of the ideas you have in your activities... but it's always nice to have different activities! BTw, would you mind teaching how to get just snippets from the dvd, like you do? Thanks a lot! Ana Luiza

Claudio Azevedo said...

Hi, Ana Luiza.
Thanks for the kind comment. Of course I wouldn't mind your using the activities. In fact, this is the purpose here. I already have a few other activities that I'll be posting regularly during the year. About the snippets, I prepared them for my TESOL presentations, but they are really handy on the web. I always get the original DVD for my classes, though, since none of the activities have been edited. I have a friend who helps me out with the snippets. I'll ask him which software it is exactly. Thanks! Have you been using movies for grammar as well? This blog is about grammar. Soon I'll have other ones on vocabulary and culture. See you.

Claudio Azevedo said...

As promised, the software for the snippets is called interview win DVR

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your help... i'll check this software out!!!! Thanks a zillion...

BTW, I've used just a few of snippets, 'though it's sthg i really like doing...

Thanks, again...
i'll be around!
Ana Luiza

Ronaldo Lima Jr. said...

Cláudio, this is a very nice blog. All the activities here are so useful! I've already subscribed to it not to miss any of your future posts.


Claudio Azevedo said...

Thanks a lot for the feedback. Your help has been precious! Keep posted.

sw4c-aparecida08 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madalena said...

All right Cláudio,

I'll try to post my messages in your blog and I'll keep praying for it to work out. The fact is that I don't feel very comfortable in doing it yet. I even participated in the group about how to use technology, during de CTJ Seminar in July, and the advice she gave me was to find somebody to help me.
I asked you about the links because I intend to burn those snippets on a blank dvd in order to use them in the classroom.
Therefore it would help me a lot. I'll try to find them in You tube.
Thanks again for being so kind.
See you!

Claudio Azevedo said...

Hi, Madalena.
Thanks for the message. As you can see, it worked out beautifully. Tell me if you managed to find my channel on youtube. My username is claudiothomas1. If you write this on the search key all my videos will be there for you. Then click on the links to claudiothomas1 and subscribe to the channel. You will have the videos and will be warned when new videos come out. I've just included 3 new videos for activities I will post pretty soon on the blog. If you have difficulties, let me know. See you.

English Department said...

Hi Claudio, I'm writing from Spain just to tell you that you are doing a great effort and that this site helps us very much in our daily job with the students. You select really interesting segments with interesting topics to talk about. Thank you for make our job easier!
Greetings from Spain!
Lovinglondon (Eva)

Claudio Azevedo said...

Hi Eva. Greetings to Spain! Thanks for your kind words. I'm really glad you enjoy the activities. Isn't sharing just great? See you.

Clara Vieira said...

Hi Claudio!
I'm teaching English for almost 12 years in Portugal (um olá português para ti!)and this year I began training other teachers as far as web 2.0 is concerned. I have shown your blogs as good examples of blogging for educational purposes. I follow your work for quite some time (I found it through ESLPrintables)and I just want to say that your passion makes our work as teachers easier. So for that, I just drop by to say a big THANK YOU
Best regards from Portugal

Claudio Azevedo said...

O.lá para ti também. Thank you so much for the encouragemnet. It is rewarding to read such comments. You chose a perfect word for what I do. Passion. I'm glad you like it. Come back often

Anonymous said...

Hello Caludio, This is fantastic. I've taken a course and have prepared some movie segments for my classes. You've done an outstanding job here,and the best is sharing. If by any chance you'd like to have mine to work on it. I can send to you!!
Thanks for sharing!!!
Angela Silva

Claudio Azevedo said...

Thanks, Angela!
Of course I would like to see yours too. You may email it to me at

I'll be very happy to see what you have been doing. Isn't sharing just fantastic?

See you.

Laura said...

Hello, Claudio! I'm Laura. I'm having two extra classes during the winter holidays and I'm sure not many students will asist. So I thought I would work with a movie and while I was looking for ideas I found your site. I was wondering if you could give some tips on how to work with an entire film. Or just your opinion, do you think it is advisable to use the film entirely or should I use just some scenes and do something else?

Claudio Azevedo said...

Dear Laura,
I think it pretty much depends on your goals for the lesson. I think that dealing with smaller snippets or scenes will allow more time for the students to practice the oral skill, for example. The movie should be input for language practice, so if you use it to generate discussion or to practice a grammar goal, you will maximize active, not passive, participation.
Besides, the students can always rent the movie and see it all at home, if they get interested. You may run the risk of having students who like and dislike the movie - or who have already seen it - which can jeopardize your plans. However, it does not mean that you can't use a whole film in the classroom. You have to show it in parts, with comprehension/ discussion/ vocabulary questions for each part. Otherwise, it will be like going to the movies, and they can do it on weekends. I prefer having topic based classes, especially if they are a few extra classes only. Check out my blog You may get some ideas there. I hope I heve been helpful. See you.

Tais Rodrigues da Silva said...

Hello, Claudio!! Greetings from Santos, coast of Sao Paulo! I have been using your great ideas for quite some time now, and it just occurred to me that I never left you any feedback! I'd just like to say how wonderful your activities are, and genuinely THANK YOU for what you do. Movies make our classes much more alive, and provide much more input than just a listening or pictures. I would also like to give you a couple of ideas for activities, if you don't mind... I don't know how to get snippets from movies, so I can't send you a link, but I found a great scene to practice Present Perfect Simple X Progressive. In "Notting Hill" (with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts) there's a scene where they're having dinner and everyone tells a sad story in order to get the last brownie. You could make a gap filling exercise with the info they provide about themselves, and then have Ss personalize sentences.
The other activity is about the importance of pronunciation and intonation, that I think is more appropriate for your other blog, warmupsfollowups. It is a scene from "The Terminal", where Tom Hanks is eating and telling his friend about the Immigration girl. He makes tons of mistakes in pronunciation, ending the scene telling him not to "cheat" on her. There are more irreverent videos on the web that can be used with students (teenagers love "the italian man from Malta"), but this one I think is appropriate from teens to adults, without being insulting in any way.
Well, I hope you like the ideas!
Thanks once again for the wonderful work that ou do, and sorry for the long post! :)
Tais Rodrigues

Claudio Azevedo said...

Dea Tais,
Thnaks for your kind words and ideas. I have not seen Notting Hill, so it will take me a while to prepare the activity because I have no idea where the scene might be. If you know the counter mark, let me know. If you know where I can find the segmentsfor the other movies, it would help enormously. Thanks for the suggestions.

Unknown said...

Hi -I can't believe I've found such a wonderful site! I've been looking for something like this for ages.Well done and many thanks for sharing your innovation.
Susan Arena

Claudio Azevedo said...

Great to hear that. Thanks!