Saturday, February 4, 2017

Short Films at the University of Alberta


|It has been a very long time since I've posted on this blog... Life gets complicated, we need to assume new commitments. I have been planning to start posting regularly but it's sometimes an uphill battle!

A week ago I visited Olenka Bilash class at the University of Alberta. Dr. Bilash has been working with future language teachers in the province of Alberta for years and she is a 100% committed to language teaching pedagogics. A visit to her website is always a source of valuable information for everyone involved in language teaching.

I talked to the future language teachers about my experience working at Austin O´Brien High School in the Spanish Bilingual program, particularly Film Appreciation in Spanish. In this subject I follow a CLIL approach: students learn Spanish through the study, analysis, and production of short films.

One of the activities I do in the class is to use of 30 second long short films to encourage students to use Spanish spontaneously. These films are part of the Jameson Notofilmfest, a film festival specialized in short films with a section called Triple Destilación for short films no longer than 30 seconds. Every now and then we watch one of these short films and students need to answer the same questions: "who", "what", "when", "where", "why", and finally "what is the message of the director." Even students who feel intimidated about using Spanish in public find the activity doable thanks to the length of the shorts. 

These are some of the short films I have used but there are many others in the already 14 editions of the festival.

This Argentinian short film is full of irony and engage students in discussion about the era of the Internet: Flatmates 3.0:



With this one we can laugh at the way we create links with each other thanks to social media: Chico conoce chica:

Trago amargo is a great example of the black humour Spanish speakers are so fond of.


Some shorts are a bit surreal and use our knowledge about films to their own advantage: Time lapse



Or have an unexpected ending using a play with the words: Algunos hombres siguen sin aclararse




There are many more available in the festival website. If you spend a bit of time browsing through the films, I'm sure you will find ones that your students will enjoy and find meaningful!