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Visualising character – teaching ideas

Exploring teaching ideas and activities to analyse character in film and help built a bank of words in target language.
Image of all characters in the cafe from the film Szalontudo
© British Film Institute
In the previous step we created a Role on the Wall for the main characters in Szalontudo. Not only is this a great activity for analysing character and creating a bank of words or comments in target language, it is also a potent catalyst for further work in the classroom.

Teaching Ideas

For example, you may wish to hang a number of Role on the Wall templates around the classroom (to coincide with the number of characters you wish to analyse). Ask learners to work in groups, analysing a character each and putting words or sentences in your target language about that character onto a sticky note or the like. During the Role on the Wall activity, learners should be encouraged to note what they would like to ask each character. Use a different coloured sticky note for feelings, emotions, facts and questions. Use the Sample Stills of Characters from Szalontudo for use in Class resource in the download section to help you.
If you are working with a class you can ask your learners to stick their sticky notes to the relevant Role on the Wall template, thereby creating a word/ideas bank for use in extension activities. Role on the Wall offers a huge variety of activities related to character. Here we’ll take a look at a few:
Hot seating
Once your class have built up a bank of questions through their Roles on the Wall you can practise and hone their oral skills by taking part in a hot seating activity which focuses on asking questions. Hot seating is simply when a learner goes into character and is then questioned by the class. During this process they must attempt to answer those questions as faithfully to the character as they can. Filmmaking can be integrated into this activity – maybe staged as a chat show, with questions from both the main facilitator and the ‘audience’. Hot seating can provide excellent opportunities to build fluency, accuracy and confidence in the target language.
Freeze frame
After watching a particular film clip or short film learners choose a single ‘shot’ from a scene to reenact in the form of a freeze frame. Working in small groups learners can then showcase their frames to the rest of the class. The teacher is then able to signal to a learner within the freeze frame and they must explain, in a chosen language, how that character is feeling at that time.
Social media
Creating character biographies or diary entries are great ways of analysing characters in a deeper way. However, an even better and perhaps more relevant activity can be creating a social media profile for a film character. Learners can be tasked with creating a Facebook style profile, using a still from the film as the profile picture and then writing a short biography in the first person in a chosen language, then adding location, date of birth, likes and dislikes etc. Once learners have created their profiles they are also able to create statuses and messages between the main characters basically allowing them to create a film script, but in a new and engaging way.

Activity

For this step we want you to create a social media profile for one of the characters from Szalontudo – in the form of a paragraph written in first person. This can be in a target language if you like. Add your profiles to padlet and comment on other learners contributions.
© British Film Institute
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Short Film in Language Teaching

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