Teach English in Tingqian Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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Topic No. 46 Managing equipment and teaching aids How can film and film culture be incorporated into the ESA lesson in a fun and educational way? NB In this essay I have decided to focus on one teaching aid in particular – the use of film clips via video, DVD, or internet streaming. This is because I am a graduate of the New Zealand Film and Television School and I have a university major in Film studies and I am interested in the ways that film can complement my other passion – education. The Italian film director Paolo Sorrentino once said that “cinema has this beautiful component. It’s a universal language”. Every country has its own cinema culture and this ‘universal language’ can be one effective way to reach students and teach them the other universal language: English! Watching a two-hour film in class is not the best use of the teacher or the students’ time – and your employer may not look kindly on this either! In this essay I will examine several ways that short film or video clips can be used in each stage of an ESA lesson. The simplest way to make use of film clips is during the Engage phase of a lesson. Teacher’s could show a short clip that is in some way related to the language point to be covered in that day’s lesson to generate interest and stimulate discussion. Teachers should choose a clip that is entertaining and exciting. The clip does not necessarily need to have a lot of dialogue. In fact, a short action clip with no dialogue could be just as effective at eliciting language from the students and generating discussion. Simply discussing films and favourite films (or actors etc.) could also be helpful during the Engage phase whether accompanied by a film clip or not. This is also a good way to build a rapport with the students as the teacher gets to know more about the students’ likes and dislikes. Furthermore, if the teacher discovers that a large number of his students are fans of say, the Avengers films, this could inspire future activities in the Study phase of a lesson. For example, the teacher may create a superhero themed gap-fill activity to teach a particular grammar point. Older students – especially those who want to learn English for social reasons or because they are travelling abroad – may wish to learn some basic English film vocabulary in the Study phase of a lesson (“director”, “editing” etc.). A few simple terms could really help their confidence when they talk to native language speakers about their favourite films in a social situation. The teacher should be careful not to just give the language to them but instead coax it out of them in discussion or in well-planned worksheet activities. One film clip based activity that could be used in the Activate stage of a lesson is the ‘Film Dub’ game. I have ‘borrowed’ the idea from the popular television improv gameshow series Whose Line is it Anyway. The teacher plays a short clip from a film but puts the sound on mute. One pair or a group of no more than four volunteers or is chosen to play first. Each is assigned a character in the clip and improvises their dialogue when their assigned character is depicted speaking. Then, using the same clip or a new one, it is the turn of a new pair or group to have a go. This would be especially effective after a Study phase in which students have learned new vocabulary or a new grammar point that they can try out in this activity. Younger students may also enjoy making the sound effects. Because this activity is only for a few people at a time it may not work so well with larger groups but it is usually a fun activity for all – even those who are watching! There are a couple of issues to consider when planning an activity with film and video clips. Preparation is absolutely key. Make sure the DVD player or computer is working and all of the necessary video and audio cables are working and connected before your class starts. If you are streaming your video clip then make sure that the internet connection in the classroom is stable. Technical difficulties can be embarrassing and chew into valuable class time but most can be avoided if one takes the time to prepare! Visuals can be so important for EFL learners to get interested in, to get immersed in, and to, ultimately, understand, the English language. Film and video clips, if well-chosen in advance, and f the teacher takes the time to plan an appropriate and interesting EFL lesson around them will be a popular and effective teaching aid.