MovieTalking the Super Bowl Commercials

I’m not a football fan, but I always like watching the best Super Bowl commercials. This year, there were some great commercials, and I decided to use them for some little MovieTalks in class with my students today. I say “little” MovieTalks because I didn’t spend as much time on these as I usually do with MovieTalk. Since these videos are pretty short, I didn’t go to the effort of typing out the story of the commercial and having my students read it afterwards (like I usually do with MovieTalks). We just watched each video, and I paused frequently to talk about what was happening or what was just said in the video. After watching each video, we discussed the video a little bit.

I used all four of the following videos with my Level 4 students today, and I’m planning on using the last two—the Skittles and Mr. Clean—with my lower-level students tomorrow.

These are the videos:

  1. “We Accept”—AirBnB commercial

This commercial doesn’t contain a lot of language, but the concepts are fairly abstract, so it did take a little bit of time for me to explain some of the ideas—e.g., “belong” and “accept.” (Of course, if you speak your students’ L1 and can translate, that would probably help a lot!) We talked about the pictures of the peoples’ faces in the video—people of all different races, etc., and how the video shows that it’s important to be welcoming to all different kinds of people.

  1. Budweiser commercial

Before we watched the video, I gave students a little bit of background information. I talked about Budweiser beer (luckily, most of them were already familiar with it). I told the students that the company was started by two men named Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch and that Adolphus Busch came to the U.S. from Germany in 1857. I told them that Busch came to St. Louis, Missouri, and we looked at where it is on the map. I let students watch the video all the way through the first time without stopping (with the English subtitles on). Then, we watched it again as I paused frequently to talk about what was happening. Afterwards, we discussed the way that immigrants are treated when they first come to the United States and that, unfortunately, sometimes immigrants are treated badly, like the video shows.

  1. Skittles “Romance” commercial

My students found this video HILARIOUS! Before watching, I made sure all my students knew what Skittles are. We paused after the opening shot with the boy throwing Skittles at the girl’s window, and we talked about why he was doing that. Then, I paused after each person in the video just to say one sentence—e.g., “The mother catches Skittles in her mouth…The father catches Skittles in his mouth…”

  1. Mr. Clean “The Cleaner of Your Dreams” commercial

This Mr. Clean video also made most of my students laugh. Before watching the video, I showed them pictures of the Mr. Clean cleaning products so they would recognize the Mr. Clean man. Then, we watched the video all the way through without stopping. Afterwards, we discussed what happened in the video—that the woman imagines a sexy man cleaning her house, but it’s really just her husband. We spend time talking about the last line—“You gotta love a man who cleans”—and then talked about why the woman is so excited at the end when she kisses her husband. If you want, this video could also be a good way to introduce/reinforce house-related vocabulary–“He cleans the stove in the kitchen…He cleans the shower in the bathroom, etc.” In my class, the video led to an interesting conversation, with all my female students talking about how they love a man who cleans! One note: Since this video is somewhat sexual, make sure you think about your cultural context and the age of your students before showing it in class.

This 84 Lumber Commercial depicting a mother and daughter’s journey from Mexico to the U.S. could also easily be made into a MovieTalk, though I didn’t use it myself. You could even extend the MovieTalk quite a bit and discuss immigration issues as a whole or have students read some of the articles that have been written about the commercial, like this one from Quartz Media. (Many people—myself included—saw the ad and interpreted it as an anti-Trump/anti-wall message. But it turns out that the owner/president of 84 Lumber voted for Trump, and she said that the focus of the ad is supposed to be the big door within the wall that opens up to admit legal immigrants.)

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