Going to the Movies
Teaching an ESL class based on a movie is not only fun, it is also an excellent means of developing language skills. There are, however,
several things to consider before incorporating movies into lesson plans. They include the students' level of competency and the age appropriateness of the movie.
When considering movies, pick films that will appeal to the age group and also provide themes that can be discussed in class. For example, while an action film might hold the interest of high school students, there may not be a plot with themes to discuss. However, a film such as Twilight from the book by Stephenie Meyer can be used to discuss various themes, such as bullying, being different, coming of age, relationships, and unconditional love. Another benefit of using a film that is made from a book is the ability to have students read the book as well as view the film.
The following movie-based ESL lesson example will be for a high school intermediate-level ESL class.
Comparing the Movie and the Book
Rationale: To utilize movie-based ESL lessons to strengthen, develop and practice all language skills.
Movie and Book: This lesson will use the movie and book by the same name, Twilight. Students should each have a copy of the book written by Stephenie Meyer. The movie is easily obtained either through the school's library or at the local video store.
Prior to Viewing: Before viewing the movie, have students read the book (hand out a vocabulary list that will aid them in their reading). Have students keep a reading log or an ESL journal, which can be reviewed in class daily. Have students brainstorm the various themes that play out in the story as they read the book. Have discussions on the themes, asking questions like, "What other stories have you read that are similar in theme to this story?" or "Why do you think the author picked the theme of bullying for this story?"
Viewing the Movie: It is important to view any movie in its entirety, rather than start and stop. Once the movie has been played through, you can pick specific scenes to re-run in order to clarify or teach a certain point.
Post Viewing: Immediately after the students have finished seeing the movie for the first time, have them write their impressions of the film. What did they like? What did they not like? What questions do they have? What did they not understand?
Give them fifteen or twenty minutes to complete this task; then have them share some of their thoughts.
Next, have your ESL students brainstorm the themes they saw in the movie. List them on the board. Once they have exhausted the possibilities, break them into groups. Have each group pick a theme to discuss. After several minutes of discussion, have a representative from each group share what the group discussed. Have a question and answer period after each speaker has finished.
Assessment: Assess the four language skills based on the competency levels of the students:
- Reading – Did each student finish the book? Did they keep their logs current?
- Speaking – Did the students participate in discussions? Did they use new vocabulary correctly?
- Listening – Did the students get the gist of the movie? Did they understand what they heard?
- Writing – Did they write clear reflection papers with correct grammar and spelling?
This movie-based ESL lesson can be adapted for any movie/book combination at any level of ESL proficiency.
Photo – Wikicommons