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Suitable Movies for the ESL Classroom

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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Re: Suitable Movies for the ESL Classroom

Unread postby jetar » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:24 pm

First I want to say that it is good that your school allows you to have your beginner ESL learners watch movies in English every week. Since movies are authentic materials which provide a lot of input and visual support, I think it will help your students a lot.
To answer your question, I do not have specific movie suggestions for you. However, I think it would be a good idea to ask your students what kind of movies they would like to watch. If the movies are related to their interests, it will motivate them a lot. You could also ask them to give you titles of movies they already saw and liked. Since they would have already seen them in their native language, it could help them to better understand the English version.

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Re: Suitable Movies for the ESL Classroom

Unread postby eigonosekai » Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:27 pm

There is always a way to use different kinds of movies in the classroom. Last semester, I prepared an Halloween activity for my 6 graders on scary movies. This may sound wrong, but I carefully chose a few scenes from popular movies suitable for them (Hocus Pocus, Poltergueist, Goosebumps and Signs). They loved it and they even asked their parents if they could watch the full movie at home. The scenes I selected did not show unsuitable content such as blood, violence, gore, super scary stuff, etc. Plus, if students were interested in watching the full movie, their parents had the possibility to refuse and ask them to wait until they feel their kids are old enough to watch it.
''Suitable'' movies for the classroom also mean that you have to present movies which have proper language content (no bad language, appropriate language level).
Some documentaries can also be very interesting to show to your students.

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Re: Suitable Movies for the ESL Classroom

Unread postby paddyinthailand » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:22 pm

I teach primary school kids and while a lot of the animated cartoons of Disney/Pixar are good, some of the English used can be way above the level of my beginner students. However, I have found a couple of movies with content suitable for kids, an appropriately easy level of English and plots which the kids found thoroughly engaging.

Both The Karate Kid(2010) and E.T.(1981) use readily accessible English and are entertaining movies to boot. There are plenty of scenes where the English used is useful even for very low-level beginners. The scene where Elliott names and explains the functions of various household items to E.T. is a perfect example.

Hopw they prove useful to some of you.

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Re: Suitable Movies for the ESL Classroom

Unread postby Shmooie » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:00 am

Although I agree with most, I won't repeat what people have written about the great benefits movies can provide.

I would like to try to add some information and tips:

1. The movies you watch with students should be appropriate for the age level. I don't show movies with excessive sex, drugs, language, violence ect. to my high school students. (They can watch those on their own).

2. Decide whether the movie is a learning tool or just entertainment. If it's just entertainment, don't waste their time and money by doing a movie in class.

Many of the titles listed in this forum have so much slapstick comedy and visuals, that the students will tend to focus on that instead of trying to understand the dialogue and messages of the movie. A healthy combination of visuals/slapstick comedy and comprehensible dialogue is great.

3. Try to show movies that will give ESL students a better understanding of another culture. Right now I am working with students who will go to college in the U.S. so I pick movies that will show American culture, particularly high school/college life.

4. Pre-teach blocking vocab. Try to integrate it into your class in the days preceding the movie.

5. Have the students write a summary, or a description of their favorite character, so that they actually pay attention to the movie, not just the visuals, and reflect on the content of the movie in English.

6. Try to show movies they have not already seen. (I know someone has said this already). This may cancel out any movie made in the past ten years;) If they have already seen the dubbed version, they may not pay attention as much to the language, as they already know what is being said and what will happen. Also, they may be bored.

The language in older movies seems easier to understand than newer movies anyway. Thin 80's and 90's. This may just be my perception.

7. Get feedback after the movie. Did they like it? Why? Why not? What were their favorite parts? I also give them a few questions to answer during/after the movie.

8. Subtitles or no subtitles? I try not to use them if they are not absolutely necessary. The students tend to read more than listen if they are there, but I do want them to understand.

Here are a few movies I have done. Many are oldies but goodies. (They all reflect American culture/American holidays/high school life)

I have pre-teach vocab lists and questions I made for each of these movies, which I would be happy to share if anyone is interested.

Little rascals
The sandlot
Can't buy me love
10 things I hate about you
Mean girls
the goonies (they loved this)
Back to the future
Ernest scared stupid (for holloween)
trains planes and automobiles
Family vacation (for christmas)
don't tell mom the babysitter's dead
Encino man (i did a reading lesson on cave men the day before to prepare. This was a HUGE hit)
ferris buellers day off
bill and ted's excellent adventure
home alone (also a good christmas movie)

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