Spectre: a conversation lesson about the new 007 movie

Back when I worked for Cultura Inglesa in Rio de Janeiro, the academic department used to send each branch a DVD with video activities based on songs and movie trailers (this was before YouTube was a thing as well). I really looked forward to those and since then I have tried to create my own lessons based on new films.

There has been some buzz about the latest James Bond film, Spectre, as it may be the last one with Daniel Craig. I thought this would be a good fit for one my students who is a young adult, but the topic of films is general enough that this could be used with adolescents and adults.

If you are a big Daniel Craig fan, by the way, you’ll probably also want to check out this funny lesson by Luiz Otávio Barros.

When teaching groups, a good idea to start a lesson where you are going to talk about films is to propose some general questions, such as these:

  • What types of films do you enjoy watching?
  • Have you seen any good films lately?
  • Are there any films you are looking forward to seeing?

This should give you an idea of what kinds of things your students are interested in, as well as checking they know the names for different film genres (students generally mispronounce horror, so you may want to work on /h/ vs. /r/ pronunciation)

It’s possible that the Spectre will have come up in the previous discussion. If so, you can use that as a segue to the next part of the lesson. If it doesn’t come up, ask students if anyone knows the name of the new James Bond film.

Tell them they’re going to watch the trailer and that afterwards they are going to discuss the following questions.

  • Have you watched the new James Bond film?
    If so, what did you think of it?
    If not, are you planning to? Why?

If you wan to give your students a while-watching task, you could ask them which cities/countries they can identify in the video.

After the discussion, tell students they are going to read a review of the film, from the New york Times. The original article is here and my adapted version is below.

Spectre Review (The NY Times)

Show students the while-reading questions. You can also break them down into a gist question (the first one) and detailed questions (the last three)

  • Is this a positive review? What makes you say that?
  • What does the author think of the opening scene of the movie?
  • Why was Daniel Craig a good choice for Bond back in 2006?
  • Who is the author’s favourite Bond? Why?

Spectre

Let students compare answers after reading and then elicit answers from the whole group. As a post reading task, ask students if the review makes them more or less likely to watch Spectre.

There are a couple of possible activities to follow-up the review. First of all, you could work on the language, focusing on the following words.

bankable
to rev something up
to shake something off
to long for something
alas
to pine for
go-to

You may have noticed that my go-to activity for controlled practice are these personalized questions. They are a good way of giving students a second look at the words. It’s a good idea to remind students to use the words in bold, rather than synonyms they are accustomed to.

  • Do you have a go-to song that you listen to when you go to the gym?
  • Who are the most bankable actors and actresses nowadays?
  • Do November and December rev up for you in terms of work or study? your plans for New Year’s Eve?
  • Are you able to shake off the nerves before an important test?
  • Are you longing for anything at the moment?
  • Was there anything you wanted to do this year that, alas, you weren’t able to?

If your students like working with songs, you could use Spectre’s official theme song, by Sam Smith. The lyrics lend themselves to working with different time tenses as well as features of pronunciation.

Finally, you could get students to watch a video review of the movie and compare it with the review they read. I suggest using this one.

Thanks for reading.

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