Learning from English movies

By Margaret Weaver,2014-01-11 13:20
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Learning from English movies

    Learning from English movies

    It is possible to learn English by watching movies, but only to a limited degree. Here are

    some suggestions on how to learn from movies.

    Movies can provide the learner with useful input. Movie English differs from the English you find in newspapers and books, because written English and spoken English are quite different. In movies you will find more slang and a great number of different accents. Exposure to these things improves your listening. Eventually, using natural language can help you to sound more fluent.

    Another good point about movies is that they offer 'authentic' English. (This means English as it is really spoken on the streets of western cities.) Too many English textbooks use formal English that sounds quite unnatural, leaving students sounding like robots. This, in my experience, is a big problem with Chinese students of English.

    So, yes, movies can be a useful study supplement. However, let me tell you something very important: Unless you manage them very well, movies are not much use to the language learner! Unfortunately, people vastly overestimate the value of movies as a learning tool. They think you can just watch movies and learn. You cannot. And if you rely on movies as a major source of input for your learning, think again. Be sure it's not just an easy excuse.

Let me tell you how to use movies in a disciplined and systematic way.

    Sitting in front of a TV is passive. Being passive is not generally a good way to learn anything. You need to be more engaged in the learning by preparing for it, researching it, discussing it, taking notes, doing follow-up, etc. Interactive learning is more effective than passive learning. Unless you interact with the input you will forget it soon afterwards.

Here are a few tips on how to approach a movie in an interactive way:

    ? Research it online

    ? Identify the main idea of the movie

    ? Take notes on the key vocabulary

    ? Discuss these ideas and words with your friend

    ? Watch part of the movie, then stop it and discuss

    ? Take more notes and use the new vocabulary in your discussion

    ? After the movie is finished, follow up through duscussion, and further reading on the topic, etc.

    Let me make another point. Movies can be difficult to understand. Sure you have an advantage with a movie that you can see what is happening and you can stop/start it. However, the characters tend to speak fast and use a lot of slang. (Some of these words you do not need to learn.) In some ways, movies are more difficult to understand than books. If they don't have subtitles, they can be hard to learn from.

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