As progressive professionals in our continual search for additional resources, approaches, techniques and methods for expanding our repertoire of English language teaching tools, often, we need not look far beyond our immediate surroundings for inspiration. A commonly available resource of authentic English is movies. Are movies practical for English language teaching? How do you go about it? What are good movies for English teaching? Where can you get them? Why bother using movies at all? These questions, and others, will be briefly explored in this series of articles. Here then, are five good reasons why you should use popular movies with your learners for English language practice and acquisition.
1. Movies in English are widely enjoyed
A wide variety of learner types enjoy watching movies. It is one resource from which you can extract considerable mileage on a wide range of themes and topics.
2. Movies in English are easily available
Unless you live in Tibet or Borneo perhaps, movies in English are usually available from a variety of sources. Rental shops, book stores, theaters, media outlets, record shops and music stores all have numerous titles avail at any given time. Offerings change or are upgrades as new films are released.
3. Different movie formats are available
Whether your available viewing equipment is VHS or BETA format, NTSC or PAL, 35mm, 16mm or even 8mm video, you can still find an expansive variety of flicks from which to choose.
4. The length of viewing is controllable
How long are your English language class sessions? Fifty minutes? One hour? Ninety minutes? Two hours or more? No matter what length classes you have, movies can be adapted to suit the timeframe you have available. How? Simply use clips from films or “installments” instead of the whole film in one shot. This actually seems to work much better for many teachers and class groups.
5. Use of sub-titles and close-captioning is controllable
Another useful aid in movie-watching is the ability to turn on or turn off features like sub-titles in English or the learners L1, or the use of close-captioning in movies, documentaries or videos produced with this feature. Using sub-titles in English not only provides listening comprehension support, but aids in vocabulary development and reading comprehension as well. As the English language learners’ skills develop, these aids can be turned off.
As progressive professionals in our continual search for additional resources, approaches, techniques and methods for expanding our repertoire of English language teaching tools, movies can offer us an easily accessible, dynamic resource to enrich and expand our English language teaching. These reasons contain only a few of the many benefits we and our learners can experience. In the companion to this article entitled, “5 Ways to Use Popular Movies for English Language Teaching”, we’ll look at ways movies, clips and videos in English can be exploited in the EFL class room.