Monday, January 26, 2009

Three Terrific English Language Teaching Movies

Dynamite English Language Learning Skills

If you’re looking for ways to dynamite English language learning skills in your classroom, try using clips from popular and classic movies. It certainly works for me. My learners enjoy speaking practice far more using scenes from these well-known Hollywood offerings. Written and oral reports and discourse take on new meaning when pulled from the context of an enjoyable film – either the whole movie or just a selected short clip. Here are seven more of my learners’ (and my) sensational favorites for you to try out in your English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes. Here are three more of my EFL class room tested favorites for video-based, in context language learning practice.

INDIANA JONES and the Temple of Doom

If you know this movie at all, you’ve just got to love the exotic banquet scene. My English language learners all talk about that scene long after the video scene has faded from the class room screen. And no wonder, with the myriads of things to feast on world wide, new meaning is given to the axiom, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. Harrison Ford’s charismatic character, Indiana Jones (pictured), the adventure-seeking university professor, is known and loved worldwide. This second in a series of three (so far) films only adds to the mystique of this character. Your language learners can act out scenes, Interpret dialogue, and alter the script to provide endless scenarios for language learning practice.

Codename: SWORDFISH (2001)

Still my all-time favorite “terrorism” film, an anti-terrorist agent played by John Travolta recruits a super-hacker (Hugh Jackman) to help him steal a multi-millions secret government bank account funds. The supporting castoff this fast-paced thriller also includes Halle Berry in a topless scene and Don Cheadle. It’s got reams of action, top-class dialogue, humor, suspense and even a “steamy” scene or two (watch out for these) to capture and hold the learners’ (and your) interest. This film will make for an interesting addition to your film and video clip repertoire.


If you haven’t already used “Rocky” or one of its sequels in class, shame on you. The original classic, set in the Italian-American neighborhoods of south Philadelphia, illustrates not only the brutality associated with the sport of boxing, but the qualities and attributes that go into the making of a champion. Authentic setting scenes, acceptable dialogues and glimpses into the ethnic culture of the area contribute to make Rocky a valuable addition to your English language teaching film collection. The original script was written by Sylvester Stallone himself. His autobiography makes for some interesting material when coupled with additional aspects from the film.

Try a Variety of Language Learning Techniques

Whether you opt to show the film in its entirety, show it in shorter, time-controlled installments or simply use selected scenes for language learning practice, pronunciation, connected speech illustration or other linguistic aspects, be sure to try a variety of techniques. Videos and clips from popular movies are a dynamic, welcomed way to reach your language learners, lower their affective filters and develop meaningful English language learning skills.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 135 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at:

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Great post! My students really, really enjoy 24. Jack Bauer and all the suspense is great for conversation practice. They love to try to guess what will happen next, as well as, figuring out wo the real 'bad guy' is. Thanks.