Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An ESL/EFL Lesson Plan - Class Project Idea Using Film

In my travels, I have met amazing people with amazing stories. (See my post entitled, "Lessons Learned from Life.") I have dreamed of putting a book together that documents individuals whose life stories have taught me powerful lessons. That dream is a project for the future that I sincerely hope to engage in at some point. In the interim, I enjoy learning life stories of individuals I have not met, but whose voices are made available to me through text and video. I wanted to share one of my favorite resources that provides an opportunity to access the testimonies of a myriad of individuals from around the world. It is called "6 Milliards d'Autres," or "6 Billion Others," which documents 5,000 interviews filmed in 75 different countries, in which individuals were asked the same questions about life. As the website states, this project is "a perspective on humanity" which reveals "what separates us and what unites us." The link can be accessed here. (Click on the "6bO Testimonies" button at the bottom left of the screen, and then click "Portraits" from the drop-down menu. You can then click on any picture tile in the mosaic to view that individual's portrait. You can also search by topic, location, etc.)

On a teaching application note, I think it would be an interesting class project for an ESL/EFL class to participate in a similar film project. After introducing the website to students, teachers could invite the students to share their "testimonies," as well. Teachers could film students in the class answering a variety of questions. Students could speak in English to practice the target language, or they could be given the option to speak in their native languages, and then given the opportunity to translate their speech into English to be used as subtitles. Perhaps the class could even post their testimonies on the "6 Billion Others" website to provide a "publishing" opportunity. This project could also be done in conjunction with other ESL/EFL classrooms, and, if possible, each class involved could showcase their films as they watch them together.


  1. What a great, engaging project for ESL/EFL students. This project could also be presented as a Digital Story. Conventional storytelling draws upon the linguistic skills in which some students, especially my own ESL students, lack strength. Digital storytelling opens up a world of opportunities for students to draw upon their strengths, for example, in artistic (spatial) and musical intelligences with which they might express themselves with confidence and enthusiasm by incorporating graphics and music. Students strong in interpersonal and kinesthetic skills might take pride in employing drama or dance in their storytelling. In one manner or another, all of the multiple intelligences can be utilized in various digital storytelling assignments. Digital storytelling allows students to communicate at their smartest and most confident levels and, in the process, to exercise and build strength in the variety of other skills. Giving students the option to speak in English or their native languages and then translate their speech into English further personalizes their work and gives students the chance to really share their own stories with one another.

  2. Thanks for your comments on digital storytelling, Linda. I think it's so important to provide a variety of activities for our ESL students so we can capitalize on their learning styles and interests. It sounds like you've had great experiences using digital storytelling with your ESL students. Thanks for sharing!