“Every car tells a story; all you have to do is listen”
It’s become something of a cliché, but every teaching situation presents its own unique set of challenges. However, my challenge wasn’t all that unique – in fact, it was pretty well-worn itself. My students were falling asleep as I tried to guide them through science readings and lectures in preparation for the TOEFL.
What I’d like to offer you here is a brief review of a class project that seemed to catch my students’ interest and got them deeply involved with academic material. This one simple exercise opened a wide door into helping students interact with abstract material and getting them to build a set of experiential and critical thinking tools that they could call on later when trying to understand and appreciate other technical topics in English.
SkypeRead: Movie read-through for language learners
TESS: Do you know what your problem is?
DANNY: I only have one?
Ocean’s Eleven (Warner Bros., 2001)
The scene in Ocean’s Eleven where Danny confronts Tess, his ex-wife, in the restaurant of the Bellagio hotel and casino is a wonderful bit of cinema.
The emotions of the characters are highly complex. Danny — who has just been released from prison — still loves Tess and wants her back. Tess, on the other hand, hates Danny. But, deep down, she still loves him too. She’s also terrified, because her new husband — Terry Benedict, the ruthless owner of the Bellagio — is about to arrive at any moment. Things are complicated for Danny as well. He’s secretly planning to steal a hundred and fifty million dollars from Benedict.