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Film in primary literacy


Film engages children in a unique and powerful way, but films still have much in common with books in the way they tell stories. Both mediums can be discussed in terms of narrative structure, genre, themes, character and setting. Stories, whether written in books, narrated orally or told in film, are usually more than entertainment alone. They have different purposes and underlying messages, providing knowledge about worlds and subjects that we may never have the opportunity to experience for ourselves. They can also provide us with the chance to reflect on our own lives.

As when reading books, we need to use a set of skills to make sense of a story on film. We often use these skills without realising. Meaning within a film is often implied or embedded in the codes and conventions with which film communicates. The following questions can be asked when working with film:

'How are texts structured for different purposes?'
'What language devices are used to engage the audience?'
'What do you think the character is feeling here?'
'What is the setting and why do you think the author chose it?'
These are questions that primary school teachers are working on with children daily using written texts. Moving image texts can provide another way of looking at the same themes and learning about these story elements forms a significant part of the Primary Framework for Literacy.