Thursday, October 18, 2007

Part 2 These Popular Film Cluster Genres Can Turn Your Most Reluctant EFL Learners into Language Learning Stars

On the Use of Film Clusters

As we noted in part one of this three-installment article series, not only are clusters of movies, films, videos and documentary clips stimulating, interesting and enjoyable for your English as a foreign language learners, but the broad selection of available genres and types offers a substantial range of English language teaching and learning didactic aids. We previously identified a film cluster as simply a group or series of related movies, clips or videos. Here in part two, we’ll continue to get a brief over view of the genres in which most films are classified.

Photo: Idi Amin, subject of the film documentary-drama, “The Last King of Scotland”

More Popular Film Genres

Let’s look at a few more of the commonly available film genres, what they are and exactly how we might use them in our English as a foreign language classroom settings.

Here are some additional listings of the most widely known movie and film genres or types:

  • Documentary – Informative, realistic and notoriously difficult to film, this genre is, and should be, a popular one with not only teachers, but with parents and learners alike. A good recent example is the film, “March of the Penguins”. What are some of your other recent or classic favorites?
  • Police / Detective / Crime – Oh man, this one is one of my personal favorites too. The ole “cops and robbers” theme has been around since the days of old time radio and very likely is here to stay for years to come. “Dirty Harry” starring Clint Eastwood and the “Bad Boys” series with Will Smith and Malcolm Lawrence the vigilante series of films with Charles Bronson are examples you probably already know and love.
  • Thrillers / Suspense – “Fargo”, the “Alien” series of films, the “Jason Bourne” trilogy of films head up examples of this genre which strives, from one scene to the next, to keep you breathless on the edge of your seat for as much of the film as possible. Special effects are the order of the day here too. Say, do you know what a stunt man is? Do your EFL learners?
  • Historical – This genre features the lives and biographical stories of famous people. Through this genre we can get a glimpse into what makes a person develop into a notable or historic figure and what their life at one point might have truly been like based on historical documents, interviews and other factual data. The films “Frida” about the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and , “The Motorcycle Diaries” which chronicles the cross South American travels of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the gut-wrenching “Schindler’s List” and Mel Gibson’s “Brave Heart” are only a few of the many excellent examples of this genre.

These are additional genres into which most films are classified. Film clusters feature a character or story series, usually of the same genre, like the Star Wars saga, the Matrix sequels, the Indiana Jones series of adventures, James Bond, Harry Potter, the Die Hard series of films, King Kong remakes, Tarzan, Batman, Spiderman and numerous others also have sequels, trilogies or multiple parts. So, for the improvement of multiple English language skills and competencies such as listening comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, in-context use of idioms and expressions or applied use of connected speech elements in English language learners, such film and video clusters or related series can be invaluable.

What are some of your favorites?

Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on the lucrative, fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign Language, get your copy of his no-cost, full multi-media, hypertext-linked pdf ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know” by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. Need professional, original content for your blog, newsletter, e-zine or website? Want more information, have a comment or special request? Contact the author at:

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