Rarely do I ever show a complete movie in my language classes. While I won’t go into my thinking on that subject right now, suffice it to say that I think our time in class is too valuable to take entire class periods and devote them to a video. My one exception for the past four years has been the wonderful movie Mad Hot Ballroom, which is rated PG13. I show this movie after we have completed our Social Awareness/Music unit, and after we have taken lessons, in class, for bachata, merengue, and salsa. Despite the fact that I have students every year who claim, emphatically, that they will not dance, I have never had that happen. Everyone dances, and they clamor so much for another day of dance that I have said every year that I need to arrange a school dance that is JUST Latin dance! (maybe this year?) I get the same groans when I counter their initial astonishment that we are going to watch an entire movie with the subject matter of the movie. How could a movie about 11 and 12 year old students in New York City possibly be interesting? It takes less than 10 minutes for every class to become invested in this movie, and to care, intensely, about its outcome. The movie takes three days to watch (based on my 45 minute class periods), but it is, in my opinion, worth taking that time.
This story about the various ethnic makeup of New York City, with a concentration on the Dominican population, and the value of the arts in building character in students, is a WINNER! As soon as I saw it 5 years ago, I ordered it from Amazon. I developed a guide (based on some suggested questions by film reviewer Carolyn Arends) to go with the movie, and used it the first three years, but I did not use it this year. Here is the guide: Mad Hot Ballroom However, the essay type questions I did use for post viewing discussion this year. Be forewarned, everything is in English, although the movie has a considerable amount of Spanish in it. Here is a brief clip from youtube.
And here is another longer (6 minute) clip.