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Everyday culture - interpreting a room from a film

Rooms are wonderful spaces for films to inhabit. They offer rich resources for filmmakers - they are constrained, self contained boxes, that can be played with using all sorts of tricks and devices.

In this step we will introduce some ways of exploring rooms in films that support language learning, and connect with learners’ own interests and experiences. Our aim is to get away from ‘describe your bedroom’ activities that focus on vocabulary teaching and simple description. We would like to look at how the medium of film can offer more imaginative ways of applying functional language to film situations.

We’ve chosen one of our core short films, Les Crayons (the start of which we showed in Step 1.10), to encourage you to look at how rooms are set up in films, and then to consider some ways of exploring rooms in target language activities.

The opening sequence of the film enables us to explore with learners character descriptions, place, movement and space. What sort of language might you want to pre-teach with your learners?

Equally, this opening scene could lead into prediction activities. Watch the clip again and, from the information we are given, think about the house, the location, and the characters. What kind of predictions could your learners make about where the girl is going, what the room is like, what she is going to do? You can either record what language you might either be teaching or recycling in the comments section, or draw the room as a set and upload it to padlet. There is also a download resource on ‘shoe box sets’ which you could try out for yourself. Design a ‘shoe box set’ version of the room and label it in a target language. Photograph it, comment on how it might appeal to your learners, and upload it to padlet.

Consider how you might use an activity like the shoe box set in an extended language activity. For example, you could use it to introduce a lesson on the language of position and preposition - ‘on top of/next to/underneath/alongside/behind’. It could also provide an opportunity to practise opinions - ‘I think that/it seems to me that/it’s obvious to me that’. Add any ideas you have about this to the comments section.

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This video is from the free online course:

Short Film in Language Teaching

The British Film Institute (BFI)

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