TESOL Video News

TESOL Video News, Volume 15:1 (Spring 2004)

by User Not Found | 11/01/2011

TESOL Video News.

In This Issue... Editorial Note
Proposed Name Change to Video and Digital Media Interest Section
From the Chair
2004 TESOL Convention Highlights
Instruct by "Moonstruck"
About This Member Community

Editorial Note

By Johanna Katchen, katchen@mx.nthu.edu.tw, and Andrei Campeanu, andrei@atmediaservices.com, VIDIS newsletter coeditors

Welcome to the third issue of the TESOL Video News. As you can see, little by little the formatting is becoming more reader friendly and colorful.

This issue begins with a very important question--the proposed name change for the Video Interest Section. Now is the time for members to have their say before voting at Long Beach. This is followed by a message from the chair, Barbara Morris, introducing all the wonderful video events you can attend at the Annual TESOL Conference in Long Beach. Our feature article, Instruct by "Moonstruck", comes from a presentation given at TESOL 2003 in Baltimore by Panos Michaelides from Cyprus; you probably never thought you could do so many things with just one movie!

The Video IS is soliciting articles for future issues of TESOL Video News. Although the officers will be changing at Long Beach, you can still submit articles or announcements to katchen@mx.nthu.edu.tw or andrei@atmediaservices.com and we will pass them on to the new editors. We look forward to hearing from you.

Proposed Name Change to Video and Digital Media Interest Section

At the Annual Open Meeting of the Video Interest Section at the 2004 TESOL conference in Long Beach, those members present will be asked to vote on a motion to change the name of the Video Interest Section to the Video and Digital Media Interest Section. The motion was originally proposed at the 2003 TESOL conference in Baltimore. The reasons for proposing this motion are as follows.

The Statement of Purpose for the Video Interest Section currently reads: "The Video Interest Section focuses on the production and use of video materials in English language teaching. Areas include student and teacher produced videos, reviews of commercially available materials, listening/speaking/reading/writing instruction through movies and TV, media literacy, film analysis, intercultural training, video as an assessment tool, teacher education, interactive video, distance learning, and the use of new video-related technology."

These purposes still stand. However, recent advances in technology have brought us video in digital formats. This applies to both ready-made films (DVD movies and DVD versions of television programs) and digital video cameras to enable us to record student work and make our own teaching materials. Digital technologies expand the possibilities of pedagogical use of video and are due to replace analog (e.g., VHS) technologies in the near future. DVDs have features that enable teaching techniques not possible with videotapes, and digital video cameras let us reproduce recordings of student work on DVD or upload them to the Internet.

The term video as it is used to describe our IS subsumes audio. By adding the term digital media we also include not only video but also audio media. Indeed, CD players and digital voice recorders are replacing the old tape recorder and, like videotapes, audiotapes are deteriorating and being replaced by CDs and their content may even be stored on the Internet.

Using the new technologies requires learning to use new equipment--DVD players, digital cameras, computers, and the software that goes with these devices (e.g., video editing software). Although digital video technologies increasingly involve the use of the computer, the goals of our interest Section to do not overlap with those of the CALL Interest Section because we are only incorporating the computer as it applies to video and audio use.

Voting on the name change will take place at the Annual Open Meeting of the Video Interest Section on Wednesday, March 31, from 5 - 7 at the Convention Center, Room 203B. Before this name change is implemented, members must be consulted. If you will be attending, please come and express your views. If you cannot attend the conference, please give your input concerning this possible change through the IS e-list (vidis-l@lists.tesol.org) or by contacting one of the IS officers (contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter).

From the Chair

By Barbara Morris, bmorris@udel.eduBarbara Morris photo.

Greetings Videophiles!

Pre-convention excitement is mounting as TESOLers from around the world prepare to head for Long Beach.

I am writing this from my kitchen, where I have escaped with my laptop from the mounting clutter of my dining room table. That surface, which I am told some people actually eat on, in my house is covered with convention-preparation paraphernalia. In the middle, a couple videotapes of students' work, a camcorder and my trusty Hollywood Dazzle (a device which "magically" converts analog video to digital). On one corner, the calculator I've been using for crunching amazing statistics about the effects of student video production on language learning, surrounded by several pads of paper for to-do, to-email and to-call lists and for random ideas about what to take to the convention that pop into my head--a poster for the video booth? mixed nuts for the business meeting? a digital camcorder to show my students where I disappeared to for a week?

Most of us who attend TESOL will be guiltlessly abandoning our classrooms to do so. We know we're going to bring back lots of ideas for making our teaching better. One of the best ways to guarantee that is by finding a focus--one or two themes we want to explore. I urge you to choose Video for yours.

This year TESOL has provided us with an online planner to plot our convention itinerary in advance. If you go to the websitehttp://www2.tesol.org/tesol2004/ and type "video" as your keyword or choose "VID" as the interest section and click on the dates you want, you'll get a listing of all the video-related or Video Interest Section-sponsored sessions.

Just in case in this imperfect world you don't get time to do this, at the very first discussion group--Wednesday morning at 7:30 am--I will be leading a discussion on "Maximizing your TESOL 2004 video experience." I promise the handout will be well worth getting up at that hour!

You can also stop by the Video IS booth (in the Exhibition Hall near the Cybercafe) for a chat and for information on daily video-related presentations. There's nothing more frustrating than missing a great video session because you overlooked it in the convention booklet!

Below are some of the Video IS convention highlights for you to print out and take with you. I hope to see you at all of them!

2004 TESOL Convention Highlights The Open Meeting

Wednesday, 5-7pm
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 203B
Come meet your IS leaders, old members, new members, find out what's going on in the VIDIS, and make suggestions for next year.

The Video Strand

Daily, 2-3:45 pm
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 102C
This is our homeroom. Each day's presenters address a subtheme of the general topic, "Evolving Uses of Video."
Wednesday--Evolving Uses of Video: Viewing and Comprehension
Thursday--Evolving Uses of Video for Language Acquisition
Friday--Evolving Uses of Video Production and Web Video
Saturday--Evolving Uses of Video for Assessment

Discussion Groups

Daily, at 7:30 am and 7 pm
Check the convention Program Book for topics and locations.

The Academic Session

Thursday, 8:30-11:15 am
Westin, Palos Verdes
Five presenters representing elementary, secondary, and higher education address the topic "Cool Video for ELT Learning Objectives." How are evolving video technologies helping students achieve ESL standards and meet learning objectives?


These are joint sessions sponsored by two or more ISs or caucuses. This year the VIDIS is participating in two intersections:
Video as Role Model
Wednesday, 9:30-11:15 am
Renaissance, Renaissance Ballroom 2
Three presenters explore how teacher- and student-produced videos can provide models for students to follow in three different settings.
Culture and Language Training at the Movies
Thursday, 9:3011:15 am
Renaissance, Renaissance Ballroom 1
Presenters discuss how language usage and intercultural communication principles may be taught through feature films.

Spotlight Session

English, Environment, and the Earth Day Special
Thursday, 2-3:45 pm
Hyatt, Seaview B
After the audience watches selected excerpts of the Earth Day video, a panel discusses its content, design, and relevance for TESOL.

Joint Reception With Materials Writers IS

Friday, 5-7pm
Location TBA
A time to eat, drink, and be merry as we hang out with our colleagues.

Instruct by "Moonstruck"

By Panos Michaelides panosm@lim.intercollege.ac.cyAuthor photo.

Films are a rich source of authentic language and culture and therefore can be a powerful tool to teach the language and assist in the understanding of customs and culture; consequently they have a place in the EFL classroom. Films can be used for teaching grammar, vocabulary, and listening; for sparking conversations among students; and even for inspiring reading and writing practice. Further, they can assist in understanding customs and cultures. Using Moonstruck (Jewison & Palmer, 1987) as a springboard, this article provides many suggestions and examples on how all these can be achieved.

Helpful Bibliography

A number of texts have been written on using video to teach languages and social studies. In the field of second and foreign language instruction, no name is perhaps more known than Susan Stempleski's. My inspiration to work with videos came from Video in Second Language Teaching: Using, Selecting, and Producing Video for the Classroom (Stempleski & Arcario, n.d.). Stempleski also collaborated with Barry Tomalin (1990) to write another excellent book,Video in Action: Recipes for Using Video in Language Teaching; most of the recipes I present here are inspired from their recipes. And let's not forget Barry Baddock's Using Films in the English Class (1996), in which he discusses the use of commercial films in the teaching of English.

Yet another group of video specialists, Elisabeth Gareis, Martine Allard, Susan Gill, and Jacqueline Saindon, have worked together to create a series of textbooks called A Novel Approach, in which they use specific movies--and the authentic literature upon which the movies are based--to present classroom activities for the language teacher. These activities focus primarily on production skills (e.g., speaking, writing) and address interesting topics such as relationships, society, and so forth.

Traditional Teaching Techniques

Some of the most basic practical techniques for using video in the classroom are as follows:

  • sound off/vision on--students see a scene without sound and are asked to guess or predict the story or the lines
  • sound on/vision off--students hear the soundtrack and are asked to use their imagination to describe the scene
  • split viewing--half the class watches the scene while the other half doesn't, or some students see but don't hear, while the others hear but don't see. A variety of information-gap activities can then follow.
  • normal viewing with sound and vision on, with exercises before and after the viewing of specific scenes or the film in its entirety
  • pause/freeze-frame--the film is paused at selected scenes and students are asked to analyze or predict the film sequence
  • jumbling sequence--students see scenes out of sequence and are asked to put them in the right sequence (This is especially easy to do nowadays with DVDs.)
Ideas for Video Activities

In addition to the basic techniques, a collection of some more specific activities follows:

A. Activities focusing on language and culture

  • Transcripts:(Analysis of the language) Play short sequences of the film to introduce and explain specific grammar points, vocabulary items, and expressions. You can follow with exercises. DVDs with a subtitles feature make incorporating the written language into this activity very easy. Also,http://www.script-o-rama.com/ has some movie scripts available.
  • Culture Bits: Play specific short sequences of the film to inform and explain cultural differences that are foreign to your audience. Ask students to speculate the reasons for these cultural differences.

B. Activities focusing on the storyline

  • Story Gap: Show two independent sequences of the film with a sequence in between missing. Ask students to compose the missing sequence. Show the missing part to compare with the students' versions.
  • Change of Scene: Show one of the film's scenes and ask students to recompose it changing some elements like the season of the year, the time (century), where it takes place, or the gender of the main characters.
  • Cultural Comparisons:Have the students compare the film to their own culture. As an additional exercise, ask them to adapt the scenario to their own culture.
  • What if . . .?: Pose what if questions that would change the course of the story (use of conditionals).
  • Complete the Story: Stop the film periodically and ask students to predict or complete the story from that point on. Then show the following sequence to compare with the students' versions.
  • Back to the Future: Play the end (or a specific scene) of the film and have students speculate about what might have happened to lead up to this point. This activity works best with dramatic sequences.

C. Activities focusing on comprehension

  • Comprehension Questions: Ask straightforward questions such that students need to comprehend the film in order to answer. Questions can true/false, multiple choice, or production related. A fun version of this exercise is the team trivia quiz in which you divide the class into groups and award points for correct answers. The different exercises and scoring system could imitate popular TV quiz shows.

D. Activities focusing on the film characters

  • Describe the Characters:Select one of the film's characters and ask students to find adjectives to describe him or her.
  • Prepare Biographies:Select one of the film's characters and ask students to write his or her biography (e.g., origin, background, education). Encourage students to speculate and use their imaginations to fill in what the film doesn't say about the character. As an additional exercise, ask students to prepare the character's résumé.
  • Role Play 1: Ask students to assume the role of one of the characters and retell the story from that person's point of view (use of past tense).
  • Role Play 2: Ask students to assume the roles of characters in a scene and to expand on the scene, not necessarily using the same language as in the film.
  • Role Play 3:Ask students to assume the role of one of the characters and write a letter to his or her best friend describing the character's adventures, a letter asking for help or advice, or a report to his or her boss. These writing assignments depend on the storyline of the film.

E. Activities focusing on the viewers

  • Debates:Select controversial sequences from the film and have the students debate whether the characters did the right thing--Should the characters have done it differently? Would the students act differently? This is a great opportunity to introduce and practice conditionals in real-life situations.
  • Journalists:Ask the students to become journalists and prepare interview questions to ask the film characters (question formation).
  • Deaf Grandmother:Tell the students that their deaf grandmother is watching the film and keeps asking, "What did he/she say?" The students need to retell her the story (use of reported speech).
  • Blind Grandfather: Tell the students that their blind grandfather is watching the film. The students need to describe the scenes to him (use of present tenses for description, use of past tenses for actions).
  • Critics: Ask students to write reviews of the film. Students could prepare film summaries; write separate reviews on the storyline, direction, acting, cinematography, special effects, or language; or write a comprehensive film review as if they were famous film critics. (A great source of film reviews online is http://www.reel.com/.)
Specific Ideas on Moonstruck

In addition to all applicable generic ideas regarding showing a film in an ESL classroom, some specific ideas focusing on Moonstruck are presented below. I give example ideas for activities limited to the three following sequences:

- Sequence 1: Johnny proposes marriage to Loretta. She tells her family. (Scenes 3, 6, and 7)

- Sequence 2: Ronny declares his love to Loretta. (Scene 16)

- Sequence 3: Breakfast in the Castorinis' kitchen; the climatic end of film (Scenes 30 and 31)

A. Grammar and Vocabulary Activities

  • Going to:Sequence 1 presents the format going to + infinitive to express future events. Bobo says, "He [Johnny] is going to propose [marriage]. He arranged it with me." Explain to students that this format is used to describe actions that have already been planned, decided, or arranged. After presenting the grammar form, use, and usage of going to, you might ask students to write sentences of what they are going to do tonight or this weekend. As a follow-up activity, students can use the present continuous and present simple to express future actions.
  • Should:Sequence 1 also presents the auxiliary verb should to express what is right or what is expected. Loretta explains to Johnny, "When a man proposes marriage to a woman he should kneel down and he should offer her a ring." After presenting the grammar form, use, and usage, you might asks students to write sentences explaining what they should do to get a good grade or what the government should do to stop illegal immigration. As a follow-up activity, you could introduce more uses of should; for example, using it to ask for or offer advice (e.g., What should I do about my problem? To stay healthy you should...).
  • Can:Sequence 2 introduces the auxiliary verb can and how it is used to express ability and permission. Ronny says to Loretta, "I can't do that [forget what had happened]." Loretta answers, "Then, you can't come to the wedding." Can is also presented in Sequence 3 when Johnny tells Loretta, "I can't marry you. My mother will die if I do."
  • Vocabulary: The expressions in these sequences (and actually throughout the entire film) are too many to count (e.g., bad luck, bad blood, who's gonna give me [the bride] away?). However, the most famous line of the entire movie is in Sequence 2, when Loretta tells Ronny to "snap out of it" as she slaps him for daring to declare his love to her. You might ask students to explain and reproduce these expressions in short sketches that they create.

B. Listening and Speaking Activities

  • Conversation Inspirations:The main idea of the film is an excellent conversation topic. Loretta is in her late 30s and has a wish: to get married. Should she marry someone for whom she has no passion, but who will fulfill that wish, or should she hold out for the right man and perhaps risk not fulfilling her wish? Rose, Loretta's mother, adds another element to the dilemma when she is thrilled that her daughter does not love Johnny, because she thinks that "when you love them, they drive you crazy, because they know they can." So you might pose this question to students: Should people get married for love? Other cross-cultural conversation topics from the film are Loretta's superstitions about bad luck and Ronny's views about love, death, and values for which it is worth sacrificing the rest of your life.

C. Reading and Writing Activities

  • Film Reviews:Film reviews easily available from the Internet (e.g., http://www.reel.com/) can spark reflecting writing practice (e.g., write your own film review, answer to the critic).
  • Rewrite the Scene:Other writing ideas based on these specific sequences could be changes on the existing scenario. For example, have students rewrite the proposal scene, but set it in a supermarket instead of an Italian restaurant or during the 18th century, or even reverse the gender roles and have Johnny wanting desperately to get married and Loretta proposing to him.

D. Culture-Based Activities

  • The Role of the Kitchen:The cultural aspects of the film are incredible and can definitely generate a lot of comparative analyses with the students' culture. The Italian subculture is evident throughout the film, including the three sequences I selected to show. Consider, for example, the important role of the kitchen--from the beginning, when Loretta announces to her father, "Papa I got news," and he says, "Let's go to the kitchen." all the way to the final scene, which brings all the characters together for the climactic end.
  • Marriages, Deaths, and Funerals: Other cultural aspects that could be used as comparative studies are marriages, deaths, and funerals. Have students comment on the idea that the father of the bride pays or Loretta's line to Johnny when he breaks up the engagement: "In time you'll drop dead and I'll come to your funeral in a red dress."
  • Culture Switch: As a follow-up activity, ask students to rewrite the final scene but place it in a different culture. I'm sure the result would be very different.

As I have demonstrated in this article, films can be great language teaching tools. In the future, when you go to the movies or rent them to watch at home, view them with your educator's eye to see if you can utilize them in the classroom.


Allen, M. (1985). Teaching English with video. Harlow, England: Longman.

Baddock, B. (1996). Using films in the English class. Hertfordshire, England: Phoenix ELT.

Gareis, E., Allard, M., Gill, S., & Saindon, J. (1998). A novel approach: Fried green tomatoes. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Gareis, E., Allard, M., Gill, S., & Saindon, J. (1998). A novel approach: The shawshank redemption. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Jewison, N. (Producer/Director), & Palmer, P. J. (Producer). (1987). Moonstruck. [Motion picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Stempleski, S., & Arcario, P. (Eds.). (n.d.). Video in second language teaching: Using, selecting, and producing video for the classroom. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

Stempleski, S., & Tomalin, B. (1990). Video in action. Hertfordshire, England: Prentice-Hall Europe.

Panos Michaelides teaches EFL/ESP at Intercollege, Limassol campus, in Cyprus. His interests deal with the use of video and other technologies in the language classroom.

About This Member Community Video Interest Section (VIDIS)

The Video Interest Section focuses on the production and use of video materials in English language teaching. Areas include student and teacher produced videos, reviews of commercially available materials, listening/speaking/reading/writing instruction through movies and TV, media literacy, film analysis, intercultural training, video as an assessment tool, teacher education, interactive video, distance learning, and the use of new video-related technology.

VIDIS Leaders, 2003-2004

Cochair: Barbara Morris, bmorris@udel.edu
Cochair: Rebecca T. Valdovinos, rebeka54@earthlink.net
Chair-Elect: Jonathan Gourlay, jgourlay@comfsm.fm
Coeditor: Andrei J. Campeanu, andrei@atmediaservices.com
Coeditor: Johanna E. Katchen, katchen@mx.nthu.edu.tw

Discussion e-list: Visit http://www2.tesol.org/mbr/community/managesubs.html to sign up for VIDIS-L, the discussion list for members of this community, or visit http://lists.tesol.org/read/?forum=vidis-l if already a subscriber.