now in theaters

This is mostly a pronunciation activity but it also deals with skimming for information in written texts and there are also elements of writing and group work with discussions conducted in English.

Say you are halfway through your textbook. Divide your class into groups of 3-4 and tell the groups to choose a reading passage from the ones that they have read so far (or a portion of it). Give them about a couple of minutes.

Next tell them that they are going to produce a movie trailer (just the audio part, that is, the background music and the narrator) for the reading passage that they have just chosen or a portion of it). This is a fantastic resource that lists many common phrases used in movie trailers. Here is a sample of phrases from it (click here for the webpage).

  • In a world where…/In a land where…/In a time when…
  • One man/woman must…
  • Meet…
  • Will change the world/will embark on a journey
  • Until one day…
  • Things are about to get…
  • A hero will rise
  • If you liked…, you’ll love…*
  • Coming soon
  • Now in theaters

*an interesting common example of a mixed conditional

In a nutshell, they will have to combine text from the reading passage and some common phrases from movie trailers. In addition, they must think of the main theme of a movie soundtrack to play in the background. To abide with copyright laws, I just used free domain classical music for my sample below but it will be fine to play a portion of the music of their choice in class. They may also introduce dialogues to engage more than one person while the trailer is being read. In the sample I just used text-to-speech from the Internet to introduce a character. At any rate, even if they decide to have one person in the group to read the text as a narrator, everyone must be involved in the making of the trailer and discussions must be conducted in English. The total length of the trailer will be around 1 to 2 minutes (my audio sample below is 1 minute 33 seconds).

You will need at least a phone or a computer that can connect to the Internet to look for the music (easily available on YouTube) and stream it. As for the expressions, if the students are allowed to use Internet connecting devices, give them the link for the resource with the common phrases (this is the full link: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/InAWorld) or else print a handout with selected phrases or write them on the board. They can also look for the background music of their choice and pause the video or audio and play it from their device.

Here’s a sample portion from a reading passage taken from Outcomes Second Edition Intermediate, Cengage-National Geographic. Free unit sample from the publisher here.

a friday night text

And here is the movie trailer for this short text. The background music is an extract of Le Carnaval des Animaux: Aquarium, by Camille Saint-Saëns.

This is a suggested time framework for groups to move at the same pace.

  • choosing the text: 2 minutes
  • instructions and reviewing the movie trailers phrases: 5-10 minutes
  • choosing the background music: 5 minutes
  • writing the trailer and distributing roles if they include dialogues: 10-15 minutes

Check out work from early finishers and make any necessary corrections. Model pronunciation with them.

Finally, have the groups present their movie trailers to their peers. Hopefully it should be fun!

As a possible extension of this activity, ask the students to choose a different text at home and write and record a movie trailer (no dialogues this time). They could share the recordings with you via email/whatsapp/wiki/blog/online noticeboard/learning platform.

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