A Valentine’s Activity Talking About Gestures

Just a quick post in honor of Valentine’s Day (or “Dia dos Namorados”) in Brazil, which takes place on June 12th.

I have always been fascinated by the video clip for Paul McCartney’s “My Valentine” song, featuring Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp. Her gracious movements, how movements related to words…. So I decided to use that clip as the essence of a Valentine’s Day activity. One that should raise students’ awareness to the importance of gestures and body language, as well as sign language and those who can’t hear.

This is how I did it…

First, I played some love song (in my case “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” performed by UB40) in the sound system as the students came in and offered them whiteboard markers to write any words that came to mind when they thought of Valentine’s Day.

Then, after they had settled down, we talked about what they had written and the meaning of Valentine’s Day in different countries, the different dates. Then I approached whether the students demonstrated love more through words or gestures. And I asked the id they thought they could decode body gestures.They were all very confident, so I proposed a challenge: WATCH the video of a song that would be sign “languaged” and try to fill in the blanks of the lyrics. They would need to take in the context of the song as well as the gesture to try to figure out the words. So I played the clip once for them (you may play it twice if your students are at a lower level (mine are at a B1/B2 level) to try to get the words.

Most of the words are obvious valentine-related, but still… After a first run, I asked them to share among each other and discuss their word choices. I played it once more without the sound, for students to get a better idea of the gestures. Then I played once more, this time with the sound on so the students could check their previous answers. After we had all checked the answers I focused on the last question:

“Were you able to infer the words from the signs? Why/ Why not?

After (or maybe during) that, we went on to a discussion of body gestures, sign language and the effectiveness of it, how much sign language resembled feelings and so on. We talked about whether it was beneficial or not to have a person who can’t speak to learn sign language, what were the alternatives…

It was a very interesting discussion. The students enjoyed the activity. I am now looking forward to hearing how it went (or that you’d think it’d go) in your groups and why :-)

Valentines Activity – Paul McCartney ACTIVITY

Valentines Activity – Paul McCartney KEY

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19 comments on “A Valentine’s Activity Talking About Gestures

  1. I’ll definitely use this. I love it!! Wait for feedback!!

    • I hope it worked, Heber. I needed to make some adjustments on the second group I used it with… They had difficulty following the lyrics without the sound. Let me know how / if it worked in your class!

      • I tried the activity with four different groups. Two of which were teens and two were adults.

        The teens groups did not get the Idea, and they found the activity to be quite amusing. With the adult groups in other hand, they were really interested (and belive me, I followed the activity to the letter) but they also had a hard time guessing any of the words. Maybe it would be more interesting if we could have the missing words either acrambled or in a Word Cloud where they could search for.

        One interesting use for the activity we experienced, was the following:

        I used the video in which Natalie Poertman and Johnny Depp were performing simultaneously in a aplit image. We pointed to the fact that they are performing the same words, but with slight different styles, thus starting the discussion about language styles. One can observe that Natalie Portman uses more gentle movements while Johnny Depp use more expressive gestures. We concluded that language is something that can have a real personal touch, even in sign languages, and although one can say pretty much the same things as another, the choices of words are very personal and limited to one’s own vocabulary. This was a good word of incentive to those adult learners who suffer with the anxiety of speaking a second language.

        The languge is a matter of style and choices rathar than a repetition of sentences.

        My two cents.

      • Thanks for your two cents, Heber! It also didn’t work as well as I had expected in two of my groups… a word cloud is a good alternative to make it work better :-)
        Thanks for the followup!
        Ceci

  2. What a lovely lesson! I was quite moved to see how you were able to raise awareness of a different mode of communication without labeling it that way!
    Haven’t thought of a way to use this video with my own students. Music videos don’t go down well, we use Israeli sign language, not American (I don’t understand a word!) and we don’t celebrate valentines day! Teens of course are perfectly happy to have a lesson dealing with romance so that last one isn’t a problem, it just means that I can do stuff any time of year!LOL!
    Naomi

  3. That sounds deeply interesting! I loved the idea of interpreting the body langauge. Unfortunately, our Valentine is in February. But I’ll definitely try it. Although it is going to be a long wait for feedback.

  4. [...] Just a quick post in honor of Valentine’s Day (or “Dia dos Namorados”) in Brazil, which takes place on June 12th. I have always been fascinated by the video clip for Paul McCartne…  [...]

  5. Thanks very much and congratulations for your helpful blog. I’m an English teacher. Actually I’m working in a primary public school in Spain with children from three to six years old. I have included some educational websites sites in my blog. They are a very good resource for my classes. http://espemoreno.blogspot.com.es/ El Blog de Espe.

  6. Jon Duckett says:

    This will come in handy when it’s valentines day next February in the UK!

  7. [...] week I read about a Valentine’s Day activity talking about body language and gestures. This was posted by Cecilia Lemos of her blog Box of [...]

  8. […] See on http://cecilialemos.com/2012/06/13/a-valentines-activity-talking-about-gestures/ […]

  9. […] from the title of the blog, however, it was none-the-less effective and very original.  ”A Valentine’s Activity Talking About Gestures” dealt with the study of the difference between the effectiveness of portraying of emotions […]

  10. […] this blog the author talked about an activity that included a holiday, Valentines day. This activity seemed […]

  11. […] post I chose to reflect on was unique in nature. It was all about Valentines Day… Now I’m a […]

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