Monday, 7 May 2012

Diary of a film project

There are so many reasons why I love working with film in my class. For one thing, a film project provides the class with a tangible end product which they can enjoy sharing with their friends in a way that they may be less likely to do with an essay or even a story they have written.  Film project work can involve and enthuse a range of learner intelligences:  musical (choosing the soundtrack) verbal (writing the script) kinaesthetic (choreographing), visual (designing the set and the costumes, story boarding) and interpersonal (directing, casting and providing constructive feedback). Furthermore, it provides the learners and teachers with a record of language spoken, making it easier to pin point areas for improvement in language and features of pronunciation.

Much of the time I use video cameras in class to practice language points. In this short film project, learners worked in groups to film news reports and interviews.  The rest of the class watched their peers' reports, and wrote up newspaper reports based on what they had seen and heard.

We are now keen to progress to the next level, and produce a film which really reflects the range of talents and abilities in the class. For the past week or so, the class have been working on developing characters and writing monologues for the film which rose out of the “Strange Wedding Guests” text book photograph (see previous post). 

The class have arrived at central characters: the bride (nice but dim with a hidden secret), the groom (nice but dim with a hidden secret of his own), the groom’s father (evil oil baron determined to put a stop the marriage) and finally, the bride’s ex boyfriend (jealous photographer, who has accepted payment from the father to secure photographic evidence of the bride’s unsuitability.)

We are lucky enough to have Clint Watt helping us on this project. Clint is a local playwright and film maker (check out Vycky on and will be tutoring the learners in film and editing techniques. With Clint’s film expertise we hope to be able to produce a film we can be proud of. 

Tonight Clint visited the class for the first time. The learners described their characters’ motivations and personalities with conviction and I am looking forward to next Thursday’s lesson, when we will record the characters’ monologues. This will be excellent way of providing some intensive pronunciation coaching for the learners. Meanwhile the rest of the class will work with the scripts, adding stage directions and story boarding the action.


  1. How do you encourage students to speak if they really are very reluctant? Any tips would be most welcome. I'd love to be a fly on the wall, your classes sound so much fun.

    1. Hi Dunila,

      Thanks for your comment and for popping by - it’s always nice to know there’s someone out there!

      In answer to your question, though…my classes are pretty well established, and I have a core group of learners who I’ve worked with for three years. I suppose it helps that they’re a pretty cheerful, fun loving bunch who see the class as an opportunity to socialise. This helps to create an open, welcoming atmosphere which newcomers to the class seem to pick up on. Usually, when I have a new learner in the class I’ll let them have a “quiet” period, in which I do not put them on the spot to answer questions (unless I feel sure that they want to contribute!) In this situation, I might also do a bit more pair work than usual, taking care to pair the “newie” with a particularly friendly and gentle learner who I think they might get on with.

      Having said that, there are lessons where nobody seems to have all that much to say. If the topic is challenging, it could be that the learners need a bit of space and time to think before committing their thoughts to words. In such situations a little bit of “think, pair, share” can work wonders!

      I guess a lot depends on your teaching context, Dunila. Where do you work? And who with?