• June 12, 2024

5 Ways to Use Popular Movies for English Language Teaching

A commonly available resource of the authentic English language is movies. The films, in their entirety or in selected fragments, are very practical for teaching the English language. Hardly any student would complain about having a movie or video clip to watch as part of an English class. But how do you go about blasting movies and clips? What are the good aspects of using movies for teaching the English language? Here are five ways you can use popular movies with your students to practice and acquire the English language.

1. Varieties of English can be demonstrated.

Do you want to know what British English is like? Australian English? What about the English from India or the West Indies? Then movies are your salvation. Films produced in these regions can give you the first-hand information you need about connected speech elements, rhotic and non-rhotic pronunciation, idioms, expressions, and other aspects of regional English.

2. Culture slices can be demonstrated

An essential element of language learning is culture. So why not incorporate both into your language lessons at the same time? While watching a film in British, American, Australian or West Indian English, you can see the cultural aspects included in the plot to illustrate social customs, from table manners to weddings and funerals, holidays, celebrations and linguistic idiosyncrasies. Also don’t forget to use “classic” movies, as they can be a wonderful resource for the ELT classroom.

3. Historical change can be easily demonstrated

What were conditions, clothing, food and the English language like 100 years ago? During the 1700s or even earlier? In fact, I found the pre-10th century saga of epic poems “Beowulf” on DVD. Learning or comparing historical changes can be enhanced by viewing period pieces, that is, films set in specific historical periods and places. For example; Gone with the Wind, Humphrey Bogart’s stable of classics, plus great literature by classic writers who have been turned into plays, feature films, or epic dramas (i.e., Dr. Zhivago, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace, Moby Dick, etc.).

4. Use of audiovisual elements that help learning

As repeatedly demonstrated in research by H. Gardner (1984) and D. Lazear (1992), an audiovisual approach is highly effective both for reducing the learner’s affective filters (Krashen-Terrell, 1984) and for language acquisition and learning. Students of visual-spatial, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and verbal-linguistic intelligence receive, process, and acquire communication-based language elements from movies quite easily. Virtually all learning styles can benefit from language elements acquired from watching movies, movies, and videos.

5. Movies are so much fun to watch.

Finally, no one, not even the most dedicated student of English, not even the teacher, wants a course that consists solely of classroom rhetoric, typical classroom practice, grammar, and exercises. Movies can offer a welcome respite from the “normal” classroom activity while continuing to promote the acquisition and practice of English language skills. A carefully chosen film (or a clip from it) can breathe new life into a class of the most reluctant students.
They are just so much fun to watch. After all, they were produced for entertainment, right?

As progressive practitioners in our ongoing search for additional resources, approaches, techniques, and methods to expand our repertoire of English language teaching tools, films, clips, and videos can offer us an easily accessible and dynamic resource to enrich and expand our English language teaching. The aspects mentioned here contain just a few of the many benefits that we and our students can experience. So pull out your favorite movie, select a dramatic or emotional scene, plan some activities around it, and watch your students’ minds light up.

One final note: In the supplement to this article titled “5 Reasons to Use Popular Movies for English Language Teaching,” some justifications for using English-language movies are reviewed.

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