Using Spanish Language Movies in the Classroom
Suggested Spanish Language Movies
The following are a few suggestions for Spanish movies that are popular choices for Spanish teachers:
- Bajo la misma luna
- Casi casi
- Cinco amigas
- La historia oficial
- El laberinto del fauno
- El norte
However, any movie that comes with Spanish audio can be used in the classroom. DVDs make it easy to switch to the Spanish language track. Disney movies are popular with elementary students, but even teenagers can have fun watching a childhood favorite. While this option won't expose students to the culture of the Spanish-speaking world, it does have its advantages. Students who are already familiar with a film can focus on the language instead of trying to figure out the plot. When Aladdin and Jasmine sing about "un mundo ideal" students have an easy entry point thanks to their familiarity with "A Whole New World."
Subtitles or Spanish Language Only?
Whether you choose to use English language subtitles depends on your purpose for using the movie in class and the comfort level of your students. A Spanish movie can overwhelm beginning students with the unfamiliar words just washing over them. Subtitles help these students follow the plot and provide cues for words in Spanish they should listen for. Subtitles are also useful when you want to show a movie as much for its cultural or historical value as for the language. This will ensure that the students understand this important information.
Additional Suggestions and Resources
One of the easiest activities to use with Spanish language movies is to ask students to write down any words they understand from the dialogue. This will give students a focus and help reinforce class vocabulary.
If Spanish language subtitles are available, you can use them to help students better comprehend a movie. However, they may be practicing their reading skills more than their listening skills.
It's not always necessary to show an entire movie. For instance, if you are studying food vocabulary and a character in a movie goes shopping at the local market, playing that scene can enhance your lesson.
If you're looking for premade lesson plans for a specific Spanish language movie, Filmarobics is a company that specializes in selling lesson plans based on foreign films. The lesson plans divide each movie up into segments with accompanying summaries, vocabulary, and activities. Tasks include answering questions, putting events in order, and more. You can also purchase movies from the site.
The Spanish language movies you can show in the classroom will vary depending on the age of your students. Make sure you follow all school policies in terms of movie ratings. Some schools outright forbid movies above a certain rating while others will allow PG-13 or R-rated movies with parental permission slips. Some very powerful movies are rated R or have a few scenes that would not be appropriate for school viewing. Consider fast forwarding through sex scenes and moments of extreme violence. Alternately, some teachers choose to cover the screen with a piece of poster board during these moments. Regardless of the rating, always preview a movie before showing it in class.