Video in the Classroom

Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006
Subject: Re: Using videos with subtitles in the FL classroom

To determine whether or not you should add subtitles to a viewing of a video, you have to be clear about what you want to accomplish. Is the activity a listening activity? Is it a cultural activity? Is it a comprehension activity? Once you decide what the outcome of the activity is, then you can determine whether or not subtitles will aid or hinder your purpose. Also, a complicating factor is that the subtitles are often not in sync with the spoken word. For example, a DVD of Shreik is dubbed in Spanish from one country and the subtitles are written in a dialect from another country. There is a substantial difference in the idiomatic phrases used. Using the subtitles in this case could only serve a lesson on the dialectical differences between regions.

Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006
Subject: Re: No Go: WAS Study Questions for "Maria Full of Grace"

Dear Marcy,

It may be difficult to find current movies that are acceptable to a school's film policy but there are several classic films that I've used that would fit the bill. I love classic Mexican cinema. Some titles are: La rosa blanca - about the clash of big oil and a local rancher; Marcario - Day of the Dead from the point of view of a poor family; La sobrina del cura - a failed romance between the son of a rich man and the orphan niece of a priest.

Also, the comedies of Cantinflas are exceptional. Of course, there is Bunuel's Exterminating Angel and Los olvidados. Among films from Spain are El cochecito - a story about a grandfather whose goal it is to obtain a motorized wheelchair even though he can walk. I love the Carlos Saura films on dance. His version of Bodas de sangre can be shown without reservation to even first year students.

From Cuba, two movies that I use are "I am Cuba" a collaboration between the Soviet Union and Cuba in the early sixties and Memories of Underdevelopment. There is much that can be learned from these films. Your students will think that you are just a bit excentric at first for showing old black and white films but will soon be caught up into their charm and power.

I've found them in sale bins in video stores, taped them off TV and purchased a few online.

Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 08:14:54 -0500
Subject: Re: Cuba video recommendations?

Dear Sara,

An excellent film is "Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States" which is a look at similarities and differences in how Americans and Cubans relate to baseball. It can be purchased on

"I Am Cuba" is also available on and is a 1964 film made through a collaboration of Soviet and Cuban filmmakers. It depicts the conditions that led to the Cuban revolution and is specifically anti-American. It might be a good film to watch to understand why the Cuban people chose the path they did.

"A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba" charts the influence of Cuban music on American Jazz. This is available on

"Buena Vista Social Club" is a beautifully filmed documentary about the same musicians 40 years later. This movie helped bring Cuban music back into world-wide notice during the 1990s. This a a widely available film. The director is Wim Wenders along with Ry Cooder as the musical inspiration. is also a place to look. These are films that were produced in Cuba on many different social and cultural topics. It's a great web site just to visit.

If you would like to learn about a contemporary US/Cuba issue you might want to visit the web site dedicated to freeing the Cuban Five. There are some video and audio files that help explain what this campaign is about.