Film Dialogue and Language Awareness

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Film Dialogue as a Resource for Promoting Language Awareness

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  • The presentations we’ve listened to today make some strong requests and suggestions to lannguage teachers: - a request for autenticity of the language we present as model; a suggestion to capitalize on the linguistic and cultural (languacultural) resources that students bring with them to the classroom; a request that the study of language and culture play an ambitious role in helping the learners make sense of the world. My medium-term project, however, is to create a repository of film dialogues for fostering language awareness in Italian secondary school and for advanced students of L2-Italian.
  • Film Dialogue and Language Awareness

    1. 1. Film Dialogue as a Resource for Promoting Language Awareness <ul><li>Francesco Caviglia </li></ul><ul><li>Institute for Language, Culture and Literature, </li></ul><ul><li>Universiy of Aarhus, Denmark E-mail: romfrc@hum.au.dk </li></ul><ul><li>Presented at Sprog- og kuturnetværk ’s workshop </li></ul><ul><li>Culture in Language Learning Copenhagen, July 18th, 2004 </li></ul>
    2. 2. <ul><li>Outline of this presentation: </li></ul><ul><li>Why language awareness, why dialogue in fiction films and why subtitles; </li></ul><ul><li>Examples from an imaginary classroom scenario </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion: For a coordinated L1/L2 language awareness curriculum </li></ul>Language awareness, film dialogue and subtitles
    3. 3. Language awareness <ul><li>“ explicit knowledge about language in the process of language learning” (mission statement of the Language Awareness journal) </li></ul><ul><li>“ development in learners of an enhanced consciousness of and sensibility to the forms and functions of language” (Carter, 2003) </li></ul>
    4. 4. Why language awareness <ul><li>Based on Kasper & Rose, 2001: In developing L2 specific pragmatic ability, adult learners can build on a broad basis of prior knowledge, </li></ul><ul><li>that is an universal pragmatic competence as implicit knowledge of and ability to use e.g.: </li></ul><ul><li>specific communicative acts (greetings, offers, refusals, acceptances, apologies...); </li></ul><ul><li>politeness as mutual face-saving strategy; </li></ul><ul><li>context-dependent variability in language and action; </li></ul><ul><li>discursive construction of social identities and relations. </li></ul><ul><li> drawing learners’ attention to specific target language features facilitates learning </li></ul>
    5. 5. Explicit knowledge about language as instructional problem <ul><li>A Catch 22 problem with some current practice: </li></ul><ul><li>when speaking about language, the student is often on shaky ground on both language and meta-language (e.g., talking about syntax structures in L2) ; </li></ul><ul><li>when meta-language is taught as subject matter, the student is seldom confronted with problems he perceives as worth being discussed </li></ul>
    6. 6. Requirements for educational intervention on language awareness <ul><li>a ‘language ground’ on which the students are strong enough to have their say; </li></ul><ul><li>tools for observing and manipulating language; </li></ul><ul><li>good, relevant questions and activities requiring the use of conceptual tools which help rising above the students’ implicit understanding </li></ul>Dialogue in films DVDs, subtitles See examples
    7. 7. Dialogues in film - a model language ? <ul><li>Some features of film dialogue: </li></ul><ul><li>is peer-reviewed ; </li></ul><ul><li>is staged for the benefit of the observer  highly contextualized communication; </li></ul><ul><li>has to ring true (that is, it simulates real life); </li></ul><ul><li>has more coherence and cohesion and less noise than real-life conversation; </li></ul><ul><li>reflects the language norm (in a given milieu). </li></ul>
    8. 8. DVDs and subtitles as learning resources <ul><li>DVDs (esp. when played on computers) grant direct access to a sequence; </li></ul><ul><li>in addition ... </li></ul><ul><li>subtitles (esp. intralingual ones) are a powerful help to understand dialogue in L2; </li></ul><ul><li>a lack of correspondence between audio and subtitles can prompt good questions; </li></ul><ul><li>writing L1 subtitles to a dialogue in L2 may be a productive learning activity. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Observing and discussing communication <ul><li>A few examples: </li></ul><ul><li>indirectness </li></ul><ul><li>face work </li></ul><ul><li>swearing </li></ul><ul><li>identity in language </li></ul>D C A Summarizing B
    10. 10. A - Dialogue and indirectedness <ul><li>A quote (from Sliding doors , 1998) : I'm a woman. We don't say what we want but we do reserve the right to get pissed off when we don't get it. </li></ul><ul><li>In the next example the woman, who is pregnant, is suggesting plans for the future to a reluctant man. </li></ul>
    11. 11. A - Indirectedness at work Commedia all’italiana L’ultimo bacio (2000) English subtitles - [Sweetheart, ] What if we bought our own house, instead of paying rent? - What? AUDIO: - Amore, e se ci comprassimo una casa tutta nostra invece che stare qui in affitto? - Eh ?
    12. 12. B – Face work and power <ul><li>The first dialogue between the protagonist in Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien (1974; Dk titel Håndlangeren ) and Mr. Horn. </li></ul><ul><li>France, 1944: Lucien is blackmailing Mr. Horn (a Jewish taylor in hiding), but is at the same time intimidated by him. Mr. Horn tries to establish a contact with Lucien. </li></ul>
    13. 13. C – Swearing and its function(s) <ul><li>A girl is flirting with a 10-years-older man she has just met at a party. </li></ul><ul><li>In the soundtrack, she makes a rude, disparaging allusion to the high school she attends. </li></ul><ul><li>Why does she make an allusion of this kind? </li></ul><ul><li>And why is the allusion not reported in the subtitles? Isn’t it relevant ? </li></ul>
    14. 14. C - To swear or not to swear? Commedia all’italiana L’ultimo bacio (2000) [ You know, ] I want to be an actress. After [ I finish ] the [ fucking ] high school, I’ll come to an acting school. Audio: Lo sai che io voglio fare l’attrice? Appena finisco ’sto cazzo di liceo mi iscrivo a una scuola di recitazione
    15. 15. D - Identity in language (1) <ul><li>Commedia all’italiana I soliti ignoti (1956): </li></ul><ul><li>the viewer meets a guy from Sicily, who </li></ul><ul><li>- keeps his sister locked in; - looks like a prototypical Sicilian; - talks like a prototypical Sicilian. </li></ul><ul><li>What is typical for his and his sister’s language? Why do regional marks disappear from the undertitles? Do you think it’s right? </li></ul>
    16. 16. D - Identity in language (2) (past perfect) Commedia all’italiana I soliti ignoti (1956) Engl. subt.: Michele, there is someone at the door AUDIO: Michele, Michele, bussarono [ simple past ; she comes from Sicily!]
    17. 17. D - Identity in language (3) Commedia all’italiana I soliti ignoti (1956) Non le deve mancare nulla Engl. subt.: She will marry with great honour. She must not miss anything! AUDIO: […] Con grandissimo onore si deve sposare, e nulla ci deve mancare
    18. 18. D - Identity in language (3) (past perfect: he is mimicing her brother) Engl. subt.: - Who is? - Michele, I forgot my keys AUDIO: Sono Michele, dimenticai le chiavi [ simple past ]
    19. 19. What did we discover? <ul><li>dialogue constructs not only representations, but also relationships and identities; </li></ul><ul><li>understanding communication require also to give a name to non verbal elements; </li></ul><ul><li>- the oral code is not less valuable than writing (however, different conventions may apply); - Italian comedies must have a regional mark. </li></ul><ul><li>In the process, </li></ul><ul><li>the student has assumed the role of a researcher on language, and manipulated language in the process. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Further steps <ul><li>Bridging understanding and production: </li></ul><ul><li>writing interlingual subtitles (e.g. as an alternative to existing ones); </li></ul><ul><li>enacting the screenplay; </li></ul><ul><li>creative writing: making short films/scenes (L1 or “multilingual”). </li></ul>
    21. 21. Conclusions <ul><li>Some open questions: </li></ul><ul><li>the ‘table of contents’ of a coordinated L1/L2 curriculum in language awareness; </li></ul><ul><li>the attitude and role of teachers of L1; </li></ul><ul><li>technical and legal questions about sharing (links to) film scenes and subtitles. </li></ul><ul><li> is this idea worth to become a project? </li></ul>

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