Saturday, November 17, 2007

Have Harrison Ford to Help to Improve Your English Language Speaking Fluency

This 1991 film stars Harrison Ford and Betty Buckley as a doctor and his wife who are visiting Paris for a medical convention when she suddenly disappears. The desperate husband, who doesn’t speak any French, eventually goes to the Blue Parrot Disco in his search for his missing wife but meets a smooth-talking drug dealer instead. The accents, idioms, expressions, slang, setting and dialogue in this scene are absolutely great. I have a comprehension worksheet I use with learners just for this eight-minute clip from this film. If you have access to this movie just e-mail me and I'll send a copy of the worksheet to you.

Using Popular Films to Improve Speaking Skills
During the course of my 15 plus years of English as a foreign language teaching, I have come across a number of popular films which not only aid EFL learners in improving their English language speaking skills, but are enjoyable for them to watch. In each of these films a scene is selected and the dialogue and setting are exploited for cultural, linguistic and connected speech elements. While there actually many such films, I’ll mention five of my English language learners’ favorites in this series of articles.

In the movie “Frantic”, the distinctive cultural differences in the way countries might investigate crimes, solve cases and handle problems is illustrated. Since the main character doesn’t speak the local language, French, he is severely handicapped in his communication attempts.

What strategies could he use to help him communicate with people? If you’re traveling to a foreign country should you study or try to learn some of the local language first? Why or why not? Are the locals sympathetic? How can you support your response from the film? Have you ever seen any mistreatment of foreign visitors? What happened? Have foreign visitors even acted improperly in your culture or country? What are some common problems with foreigner visitors to your area or country? How could the situation be corrected or improved?

Have your learners practice and act out the scene in pairs or small groups. Write in changes to the scene dialogue. Add dialogue to the scene as well. Update the dialogue into more modern or colloquial English language. May the dialogue funnier, more serious or use idioms and expressions common to the area where the EFL learners live.

Create vocabulary lists, puzzles like crosswords or word searches from the key vocabulary in the scene. The extent of possibilities are limited only by the imagination of you and your English or foreign language learners. Above all, have fun! If you're not familiar with this award-winning actor, just check out this short video clip at:

Key Film Elements
While many popular films contain selected scenes which could be used to illustrate cultural, linguistic and connected speech elements, these five have proven to be useful and well-received by a variety of English language learner profiles. If you can get a hold of any or all of them, give them a try and watch your learners’ motivation and English language speaking skills skyrocket.

By the way, let me know how well this works for you. If you have any questions or would like one of the worksheets I use to accompany each of these film scenes, just drop me an e-mail. I’ll be happy to help.

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 to with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. Need professional, original content and photos or images for your blog, newsletter, e-zine or website? Want more information, have a comment or special request? E-mail the author for a prompt response.

No comments: