Ideas for Using Movie Previews


These days, it seems like every time you rent a video, you get to watch five or ten previews before the feature presentation. Maybe you're the type who fast forwards through this part of the tape. Maybe you're like me; I like previews. Either way, they're a great extra to bring into the classroom. Often, they give you a condensed version of the movie. The nice thing about using them in class is that they're short, concise, and provide both variety and authentic language practice. On this page, you'll find ideas for how to use movie previews across the levels.

Activity 1

Directions: Introduce key vocabulary (genre, plot, setting, main characters) and generate some class discussion on movies in general. Pass out the worksheet. For high-intermediate and advanced students, turn the TV monitor around so that students cannot see the picture. For high-beginner through intermediate students, let them see the picture and hear the sound. At this stage, students work individually to complete the worksheet. (You may want to pause the tape after each preview to allow students a minute or two to consult with a partner as they fill out the worksheet.) Once students have listened to/watched all the previews, put the students in small groups. The task is for each group to agree on and write a short summary for each film. Post these summaries around the room or collect them to read out loud. Students vote on which summary they think is most accurate. Now, play the previews again (for all levels, with the visuals) and ask students to evaluate the accuracy of their summaries. As a follow-up, assign homework, asking students to write about which movie they'd most/least like to see and why. (If you have a really motivated group of students (with VCR access), you could even have them watch one of the movies. Then you could ask them if the movie was what they expected based on the preview.)

Activity 2

Directions: Pass out the worksheet and review key vocabulary with the class. For high-intermediate and advanced students, do not provide the movie titles. For intermediate students, list the titles on the board in order and discuss briefly what each might be about. Play the video. At this stage, students work individually to identify which quotes come from which movie. (You may want to pause the tape after each preview to allow students a minute or two to consult with a partner as they complete the worksheet.) Once students have watched all the previews, put the students into five small groups and have them check their work. Review this as a class. Now, the task is for each group to prepare an oral summary of one of the five movie previews. (To prevent one student in the group from doing all the work, each group member should have a clearly defined role--group discussion leader, secretary, presenter. You can assign the role or allow the group to choose.) Students present their summaries. Now, play the previews again and ask students to evaluate the accuracy of their summaries. As a follow-up, ask students to discuss which movie they'd most/least like to see and why.

Activity 3

Directions: Divide the class in half. Send half the class out of the room with the vocabulary worksheet. This group is called the Listeners. While these students are out of the room, their task is to work together to find the meanings of the new vocabulary. The remaining group of students is called the Watchers For high-intermediate and advanced students, do not provide the movie titles. For intermediate students, list the titles on the board in order and discuss briefly what each might be about. For this group, play the video WITHOUT sound. Ask students to decide on the plot of of each movie. Pause the tape after each preview to allow students a minute or two to consult with a partner and take notes on what they saw. Once the Watchers have watched all the previews, send them out of the room. Their task is to decide on a brief summary for each of the five previews. Call the Listeners back into the room, do a quick review of the vocabulary, and play the previews WITHOUT visuals. (Just turn the TV monitor around so no one can see it.) Ask students to decide on the plot of of each movie. Pause the tape after each preview to allow students a minute or two to consult with a partner and take notes on what they heard. Now, call the Watchers back into the room. Pair each Watcher with a Listener. The Watcher should tell the Listener what they saw, and the Listener should tell the Watcher what they heard. Students should agree on the plot for each movie. Monitor and circulate. To assess comprehension, call on individual students to report back to the class. Allow some time for class discussion. Finally, play the previews again--with sound and visuals, and ask to evaluate the accuracy of their summaries.

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