The short film “Illegal” is about the human dimension of illegal immigration to the US. It tells the stories of young people who were born abroad and brought to America by their parents when they were still very young. Despite being brought up in America, going to school there and feeling American through and through they are considered illegal aliens living in constant fear of deportation. Recently I used the film as an introduction to a series of lessons on this controversial topic.
I started by writing 5 chunks on the board: “high school student”, “to be pulled over by the police”, “in handcuffs”, “driver’s license”, “to worry about something”. Then I told my students that I would play a video which contained the five chunks and asked them what they thought the video would be about. They had to “TPS” (think, pair, share). Most thought it was about drunk driving or texting while driving.
So I played the video and collected some their reactions. Obviously I mislead them with my selection of chunks, so I had them find better ones while I played the film for a second time.
After this they had a few minutes time to check their chunks using a dictionary, their mobiles or me. For the next step the students had to use their chunks to tell their neighbours about the film. I also asked two of them to present the film in front of the whole class using their set of chunks.
This activity works well when introducing a new topic, because it plays with preconceptions. It has the students listen for gist, listen for detail, talk about the content of a short film and focuses on topical vocab presented as chunks. I think it could work with range of different short films or also texts.