Cave! You aren't going to like this movie. Your students aren't going to like it but they aren't going to stop talking about it either. It's strange. It's disturbing. It's also fairly easy to narrate in Latin which is why I chose it - but honestly, it's so much more. Leave at least 10 minutes at the end because your students will have a lot to say about this movie. Even though it is actually an indictment of the Japanese educational system, if you are teaching in the US, your students WILL relate as well. They will want to talk about the grind of the school day, the sameness, the unending assessments, the constant pressure to "be quiet." The discussions I have had with students about this little movie have been intense and revealing and no, not in Latin but in the larger picture of what education should be, some of the best I have ever had.
Some students may have a lot of anxiety about the fate of the dog. Since I would rather they watch then be consumed worrying about what will happen, I tell them ahead of time, "the dog doesn't die." I understand - bad things happening to animals is terrible to watch. I don't describe what the students look like or that their mouths are zippered or that there are numbers on their foreheads. Nor do I mention the fact that the teacher is wearing a "happy mask." All of these are beyond the limits of my students' understanding of oral Latin. Actually, I think leaving out these details adds to the surprise and wonder of the film when they watch it.
Words used include: discipulus, magister, canis, tramen (N3 train), sedet, scribit, legit, currit, ambulat, pila, laeta, irata, tradit, clamat, iratus,
How to Begin:
In hac fabula, discipulus in oppido habitat. Cottidie, ambulat ad ludum. Spectat tramen. Spectat canem. Canis ad tramen currit. Tum discipulus ad ludum currit. Ludus est in oppido. Oppidum sordidum est. Discipulus non laetus est. In ludo, magister scribit. Discipuli legit et scribit. Discipuli non dicunt. Discipuli audiunt
Pars I: to 2:13. I describe the various activities of the school as well as the dog and the train.
Pars II 2:13- 3:16 (to the point where the dog and boy start running towards the train)
Quid Accidit: Immediately after 3:16
Below is my current list of Top Ten Movies for movie talks. While they are all good - they are loosely ordered in a "Weekly Top 40 Countdown" fashion - good to great. I use them with beginning to intermediate students although I am sure if you have advanced students, you could beef up the vocabulary to accommodate their greater level of understanding. I do not have a copy of my "script" to share - most were written on the back of Faculty Meeting agendas and other random pieces of paper, revised, and lost in the pile of papers on my desk. I have included the main words in each as well as an opening sentence or two to get you started. All can be told in the present tense. I also tend to "act out" the movie as I tell it - particularly when I get to words or phrases either my students don't know or don't know well such as fishing. Throwing, opening and closing are also easy to communicate through gestures as you tell the story.
You may also notice that some of the speech isn't strictly in Latin word order. That's deliberate. Often times, I say the sentence in pseudo-English word order and then repeat in Latin word order. For beginners, this is easier to comprehend. For example, "Avia accipit arcam... Avia arcam accipit."
This short, scary, but completely non-bloody, three-minute horror flick is school appropriate. It's a good review of many common words: femina, arca/ cista, lectus, nocte and lots of good verbs - iacet, legit, spectat, terret, audit sonum, appropinquat, iacit, aperit, claudit, sedet. I used globulum for "marble" which I wrote on the board first.
How to begin:
In hac fabula, nox est. Femina in villa in lecto iacet. Subito sonum audit. Quid est?
Pars I: to 1.00 minute mark
Pars II: to 2:34
Quid accidit: Immediately following 2:34
#9 Death Sails
This delightful little movie about a bumbling grim reaper has many Latin friendly words including mors, nauta, pecunia, cista plena auri, pirata, mare/ aqua/ solus, piscis, insula, infirmus, or moriens if you prefer. Also verbs iacit, manet, aperit, claudit, trahit, capit. Naufragium (shipwreck) is a fun word to put on the board . As I mentioned on the page describing how to use Tres Fabulae Horrificae, my graphic novella, it can also be used with the first story in the book, Necare Mortem, because there is a lot of vocabulary overlap. The action in this one is fast and furious. Don't try to describe everything - I skip the beige "insert action" where death is examining at the hour glass. For the sequence where Death ties a rope to one of the coins, I simply described it as "Mors piscari temptat" and write the phrase "attempts to fish for piscari temptat on the board.
How to begin:
In hac fabula, erat naufragium. Pirata in rate iacet. Ratis est in media aqua. Pirata solus est in rate. Eheu! Pirata defessus et infirmus. In rate est arca magna. Arca est plena auri.
Pars I: to 2:07
Pars II: 2:07- 5:18
Quid accidit?: Immediately following 5:18
#8 The Girl and the Wolf (Button Films)
I didn't think this movie would be such a hit when I added it to my repertoire. The animation is crude, the acting stilted and it's a little bloody. For these reasons, the students love it. The violence is cartoonish and they don't find it remotely scary. It's fairly easy to narrate since it is Little Red Riding Hood with a twist. Words include puella, avia, ambulat, silva,nocte, capit, tenet, videt, malum/pomum, arbor also corpus mortuum, villa, intrat, appropinquat, cubiculum and of course lupus.
How to begin:
In hac fabula, puella parva per silva ambulat. Puella ad aviae villam ambulat. Puella aviam visitat.
Pars I: to 2:00
Pars II 2:00 - 3:17
Quid Accidit? 3:17 - 4:00 (end)
#7 Joy and Heron
In a completely different vein, Joy and Heron is a polished, feel-good animated short. Keith Toda, an excellent teacher with a wonderful teaching blog also shows it to his students. You can read how he uses Movie Talks here and his script for this movie is here. Words include homo, in nave, piscari, pisces, vermis, canis, laetus, iratus, avis, spectat, videt, arripit, latrat, trahit, pulsat, remus, dat, volat, nidus, infantes, tace!
How to Begin:
Homo et canis in nave sunt. Navis in aqua est. Aqua est lacus. Lacus est tranquillus. Homo piscatur. Homo habet vermes quod necesse est piscari. Canis laetus est. Subito canis videt avem magnam. Avis magna est in nave. Avis canem spectat. Canis avem spectat. Subito avis vermes arripit! O non! Canis iratus est! Homo non videt avem quod homo occupatus est. Piscatur.
Pars I: to 1:59 where the man chases off the bird
Pars II: to 2:45 (where dog gives worms to the bird)
Quid Accidit?: 2:45 to end
#6 Chateau de Sable (The Sand Castle)
Although the title is in French, this little movie has no words but a pretty inspiring sound track and some original animation. If you are using Jenny's, LFA, or simply teaching Caesar, you may find this one useful since it has a lot of "war vocabulary" Words: castellum, turris, gemma, harena, in litore, milites, monstrum, porta nubes pulveris, gladius, hasta, eques custodiunt, spectant, surgit, ambulant, appropinquant, oppugnant, pugnant, arrumpit, vulneratus, frustra,
How to begin:
In hac fabula, est litus. In litore est harena. In harena est gemma. Gemma pulchra est. Subito ex harena, castellum surgit. Turris altus in castello quoque surgit.
Pars I: 1:54 (I describe the scene up until the crab bursts through the gate. Note: I use the word monstrum because if I tell the students that it's a crab, it tends to give away the surprise.
Pars II: 1:54- 5:51 (Eques cum monstro pugnare parat) I don't mention or describe the unda..
Quid accidit?: 1:51 to the end
#5 The Maker
I love this little movie. The original, classical score is beautiful and the creatures are both winsome and a little creepy. It's stop-action animation. My class was mesmerized. This is another one where you should not try to describe all the action. It's also good if you are teaching the names of body parts. I described the creature as "monstrum similis cuniculo" Other words and phrases include: laborat in studio, Necesse est facere alterum monstrum, non satis temporis, legit, facit, (LOTS of facit) faciem, oculos, os, dentes, corpus, vestes, sollicitus, non ambulat, non movet, vivit, cogitat, legit librum iterum, frustra, tenet in complexu. For the violin playing scene, I just said "musicam facit" and acted out playing a violin. I also did not try to describe an hour glass but simply said, "Non satis temporis. Est sollicitus."
How to begin:
In hac fabula, est monstrum similis cuniculo. Haec monstrum laborat in studio. Necesse est facere alterum monstrum. sed quomodo? Legit librum. Est sollicitus quod non satis temporis. Cur non satis temporis est? Nescio.
Pars I: to 2:05 (Second creature is complete but not moving)
Pars II: 2:05-5:30 (First creature hands the second creature the book.)
Quid Accidit?: Immediately following 5:30...
#4 Changing Batteries
Yes, this little movie will make you and your entire class cry - but in a Hallmark movie kind of way, not in a OMG-I'm-getting-fired-for-showing-this-kind-of-way. This is one of the most popular movie talks among language teachers. I believe I read about it first on Keith Toda's blog. Link to his Movie talk for Changing Batteries can be found here.
There are some modern words here that are key to the plot - they are robot, batteries and television. I just used the English words for these words. They don't have a Latin equivalent and even if they did, I'd have to write it out with the definition anyway. Nor are we going to revisit these words so it's easier just to use the English.
I find this movie a good way to describe household chores in Latin. Words include: avia, arca, accipit. filius, purgat, adiuvat, villa, curare flores, dormit, parat cibum, laeta, mortua, amici, petasus. I used tessera for ticket.
How to Begin;
In hac fabula, avia in villa habitat. Habitat sola. Arcam accipit. Filius arcam misit. Filius visitare non potest. Quam triste! Autem in arca est donum. Quid est in arca? Est robotus.
Pars I: to 1:42 (I describe several chores the robot does and that he sees the circus on TV and wants to go
Pasrs II: 1:42- 2:15 I repeat the chores and tell them that the woman dies
Quid accidit: 2:15 to the end
Alma is probably the most popular film for movie talks. It's both utterly charming and creepy at the same time. Words include: puella, hiems, ambulat, pupa, murus, scribit, aperit, claudit, ianua. murus fenestra taberna, vult, temptat capere. ascendit I describe the doll as "similis Almae..non... simillima Almae! Even though we haven't talked about degrees of adjectives, it's easy to convey by the tone of your voice that -errima, -ilima, - issima endings means "very" in English.
How to begin:
In hac fabula, puella parva in via in oppido ambulat. Est hiems. Est frigida. Puella parva, nomine Alma, est sola in via. Subito Alma murum videt. In muro sunt multa nomina: Sabrina, Sara, Johannus etc. Alma etiam suum nomen scribit in muro. Alma scribit "Alma" in muro.
Pars I : 2:45 (to the part where Alma enters the shop and sees all the dolls)
Pars II: 2:45- 5:25 Alma reaches the doll. (I don't describe the boy on the bicycle)
Quid Accidit? : Immediately after she grabs the doll
#2 It's In Our Nature
This an an excellent movie talk for beginning students. It's cinematic, dramatic and even has a happy ending. (And FYI, it's a hotel commercial) Words include: vir/ iuvenis in silva, errat, clamat, vult auxilium, lux, facit ignem, nocte, lupi, audit lupos, currit, cadit, perterritus, dormit, nives, hiems, frigidus. iacit baculum
How to begin:
In hac fabula, iuvenis per silvam ambulat. Est hiems. Nivis alta est. Vir frigidus est. Vir sollicitus est. Ubi est? Ambulat cum baculo. Difficilis est. Saepe cadit in nive. Lupi virum spectant.
Pars I -1:27
Pars II: 1:27 - 1:59 (He throws the cane and falls in the snow)
Quid Accidit? 1:59 to the end
My process for Movies Talks is as follows:
I hand out the Movie Talk template which I remind students will be collected for credit after the end of the activity. It's in the Omnia Drive in the folder "Movie Talks." Specific link to the document is here.
To begin with, I write new words on the board with their English meanings ahead of time so that I can point to them as I go. I also teach students how to indicate questions using a few ASL signs so the class doesn't devolve into a discussion in English (which honestly happens sometimes anyway.) I learned these signs from Justin Slocum Bailey, who is an excellent presenter if you are looking for some informative and entertaining language based PD for your school. Here is a link to his video where he demonstrates these signals. The most useful ones for my Movie Talks have been "slow down" which as I become a more proficient storyteller in Latin, I find students use more frequently. I also use his signal for "again" so students can indicate that they need to hear that last sentence again. I modified his signal to clarify a word since no one could seem to remember how to make the sign correctly. I ask students to hold up one finger so I know that I need to stop and clarify a word or two.
After everyone is familiar with these three signs - slow down, again, and clarify a word, I tell part I of the story to the class in Latin. My storytelling is a pared down version of the actual plot. I leave out details that are too difficult to describe. The first part usually consists of setting scene and describing the first main event. (In each of the individual movie talks, I have indicated where I break up the story.) Then I ask the students to draw what I described in the box labeled Pars I. There usually isn't time for artistic excellence even among students who could produce it. I encourage students to add speech bubbles, labels if they are worried I won't understand their drawings. While they are drawing, I tell the entire part again.
I repeat the process with the next part of the story. I explain what happens in Latin, give them time to draw and then say the entire part again while they draw. They draw this part in the box labeled Pars II. Often it's necessary to break the Pars II box in half as there are several distinct actions described.
Finally, I ask them to make a prediction in English about how it ends in the Quid accidit? section. Then, we watch the movie together. Now students are hooked because they want to see "if they got it right."
The entire process lasts about 20 -30 minutes. The students hand in their drawings and if I've timed it right - the bell rings and they shuffle out, discussing the movie with each other.
Below are some student examples of "Movie Talk" drawings. See "Top Ten Movie Talks" for descriptions and links to films.
Movie talks are a relatively new addition to my repertoire and they are amazing. This activity was created by Dr. Ashley Hastings and has been blogged about my many language teachers. Basically, you find a short movie 2-5 minutes long, tell the plot of the movie in Latin either before/ during or after showing the actual movie. As a Latin teacher, the trickiest part is to find clips that target the kind of vocabulary that I want to review and doesn't have too many modern words outside of the traditional Latin lexicon. Thankfully, I have found many such films. My students are convinced that I am some kind of "weird movie whisperer" because I discovered most of these when I was wasting time on YouTube or scrolling through my Facebook feed.
But Latin isn't a spoken language...
Yeah, I know, but it doesn't matter. Here's why - students acquire words (move them into their long term memory) by hearing, seeing or reading them repeatedly. Reading is great but it's slow. If I orally tell a story, I can review many more words much more quickly than if I ask students to read the same story. My goal in using this exercise is to help them to retain words we either already learned but haven't reviewed recently and introduce some new vocabulary that I want them to retain.
But I don't speak Latin fluently/ well/ at all...
Take a deep breath and trust me. If I can do this - you can. If you see me at a language convention, I will NOT be among the groups conversing easily in Latin. Speaking Latin does not come easily to me but through practice I have gotten the hang of telling these short stories in Latin. You can too and your students will be the better for it. They will not judge your pronunciation, comment on mistakes on noun-adjective agreement, word order etc. It is important in the beginning to write out your "script." The more you do this, the less time it will take and the more confident you will become.
I'm not sure they will listen....
I wasn't either when I started. I have a tough audience. My students are squirmy, chatty, and reminders/ threats about how lack of attention results in poor grades do little (if anything) to elicit their attention. I have found that the secret to holding their attention is to describe/ show really compelling movies. (not much of a secret really). The movies listed on this blog have engaged multiple classes at various times of the day. The technique described in the following blog holds them accountable for their listening in an enjoyable way and provides feed back to the teacher regarding understanding. See the blog "The Method" on this tab for more details.