Spanish Cinema delivers with El Niño
Before talking about the pedagogical merits of El Niño , I have to say that I absolutely love the protagonista (Luis Tosar) and antagonist (Jesús Castro). I have seen their work in other films and series and they are the real deal! I have become a fan of Spanish Cinema as I find the films to be refreshingly real, costumbrista and very gutsy. This film not only delivers on action, but it does on thematic content, storyline and romance!
Te llamas el Niño, por qué te gusta jugar…
This month I got to introduce some of my favorite short and full feature films and series from Latin American and Spain. The goal was to get students talking in Spanish much like they do in their English classes.
El Niño is an action-packed 1 hour and 40 minutes film. ¡Ojo! it does have two scenes that I usually censure. Prior to this film, I do a mini lesson on Spanish-Africa, we watch a video on Ceuta and Melilla as the film takes place at the crossroads of the two cultures. The film explores the themes of illegal immigration, oppressive governments, corruption, unemployment and the selling of contraband- all these things really mesh together to create the storyline. Many students were completely unaware of the presence of Spanish Africa, the Moors and the confluence of Spanish, African and Arabian culture. The love interest and tension between the Spaniard and a muslim girl from Africa, kept them on their edge of their seats and gave us some meaty morsels for class discussion.
One of the best activities I did associated with this was the Film Interview. We compiled a list of themes presented in the film. I called five students out randomly and facilitated a discussion with them highlighting one of the themes. I tossed one catalyst question and they just went at it. Of the comments made, it was encouraging to hear them use their accountable talk phrases to agree, disagree and when they struggled they relied on circumlocution, much like they would in a more authentic context with native speakers. They added new perspective to the film that I had not even noticed (I annotated them for the following year). However, students noticed an interesting detail in the film; possessors where criminalized more than consumers of contraband. This dichotomy surfaced as those who shipped, grew and sold contraband were relentless pursued by police, while those who topping the “demand” aspect of the chain aspects brillaban por su ausencia. This led to several dynamic discussions. I had to extend interviews because se calentaba la mesa de conversación.
Activities for viewing the film
1. Conversation Circle
To introduce the lesson, we discussed favorite books and movies. These lively conversations inevitably led to words and ideas that would comprise our vocabulary list. I used activities such as these to engage them in the begging stages. From there I created a simple vocabulary list. The list was used as a point of reference and also provided students with vocabulary for describing, analyzing and writing about films. Vocabulary for Flim unit .
I’d also like to put a plug in for this amazing Movie Sheet I got from one of the teachers on TPT. This sheet saves my life every time I am in a bind. If you ever show a movie or even a Telenovela, just have a view of these handy to avoid students annoying asking ” Do we take notes? What do we do?
Preliminary input and interest
2. To get students excited about the unit in addition to providing them with resources they could view on their own beyond the four walls of the class, I featured a few trailers of Spanish-speaking series. Most of the series are from Spain (I have A3series- a new channel offered on RCN). However, it also highlights Spain’s dominance in this particular market. Series such as Gran Hotel and El Internado are also popularly viewed by both Spanish-Speaking and non Spanish-Speaking audiences. Since we had been working on the subjunctive in this particular class, I organized activities to include that grammatical point. This activity Hoja de actividad worked the vocabulary and grammar.
Trailers o Avances to the series.
El Mar plastico
3. As we begin to discuss how to analyze film. we looked at camera angles and shots in terms of their importance in bringing the story alive. Here is the activity with the video that I used to help students get a sense of the language used to describe angles in addition to their importance. This is the second year I’ve included the angle shots. The first year I had introduced them was disastrous as I assumed that students had some familiarity with photography (we have AP Photo at my school). Lesson learned! This year we covered all but only emphasized a few.
Film shots in Spanish (the url of the video is embedded in the document).
4. Film Carrousel
This was something different I did this year. We have 90 minute block periods so this worked perfectly for one class. I selected three films. The vocabulary as well as questions front loading some the films content and themes were included in the anticipatory set prior to seeing the film (see the PPT). The order was as follows:
– Complete previewing activities
– View cortometraje and jot down new vocabulary words
– Turn to a partner to discuss the themes, characters, plot and overall impression of the film (next year I will include the camera shots)
– Engage in a class discussion about themes.
Power Point used to launch the film carrousel activity
Activity sheets for students
Film Vocabulary in Spanish
!Más actividades por delante! Please share your favorite films!
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