- Peer Review: The English Learner Movie Guides
The English Learner Movie Guides
- Dec 30, 2002 by World Languages
Overall Rating: 5.0 stars
Content Quality: 5.0 stars
Effectiveness: 5.0 stars
Ease of Use: 5.0 stars
- Each individual guide is a detailed synopsis of a popular movie and consists of
the following: summary of the plot; a list of the major characters; an extensive
glossary of vocabulary and various cultural references that even advanced ESL
learners would often not understand; and questions for ESL class discussion.
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- ESL students who read the synopses before seeing the accompanying film
dramatically increase their level of comprehension, which in turn increases the
quantity of words and cultural references that will enter their long-term
- Target Student Population:
- Upper level ESL learners
- In brief, all of the synopsized films on this site generally meet the following
1) The dialog contains a lot of useful, colloquial English.
2) The movie itself reflects various aspects of modern American life.
3) It was popular enough to be widely available on video.
4) The author thinks it is a good or even great movie.
5) Most of the author?s ESL students would agree on all of the above.
Many of the motion pictures on this site offer advanced ESL learners, and
particularly those foreigners who are living in the United States, a good look
into the lives, cultures and languages of the American people. As a group, they
often explore the consistent themes that form the foundation of the so-called
American dream, as well as the dilemmas that people face when that dream is not
Many of the movies take serious and not-so-serious looks at our endless pursuit
of material wealth, as well as the various social issues of our day, from crime
and punishment to the break-up of the family to the fight against AIDS. In so
doing, they explore Americans from all walks of life in their constant struggle
to better their situations. Within many of these films? characters, "seize the
day" with their enthusiasm and spirit, and underdogs inspire the viewer with
their courage and decency.
ESL notes is a wonderful website for advanced English language learners who fall
into the linguistic zone of 'frustrated fluency.' The author believes that it
is an effective learning tool for students to experience the 'real world'
through movies. The website provides free movie synopses and language guides to
help students become familiar with vocabulary, slang, and cultural situations.
The guides include a summary of the plot, a list of the major characters, an
extensive glossary of vocabulary and various cultural references that even
advanced ESL learners would often not understand. Also included are questions
for ESL class discussions.
Some of themovie guides include: Forest Gump, The Wizard of Oz, Philadelphia,
American Pie, Dumb and Dumber, When Harry met Sally.
According to the author, the films included in this site hint at the enormous
diversity of background and life experience of US life, and to that extent, they
are windows into a multidimensional society that you may want to know more
about. After viewing a number of the films, a student should end up with a much
greater familiarity with the English language, as well as with the American
culture in which it is spoken
- The language guides include language and definitions that may be unsuitable for
some students. This site, of course, is for mature, advanced fluent English
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- This site identifies a clear and specific learning goal: to use film as a venue
for students to learn about culture and language, and provide support to
teachers in their effort to integrate film into the curriculum and learning
activities. The site is well organized and easy to navigate. It is appealing
to the novice Internet user, and the navigation can be learned with minimal
instruction from an adult.
There are some ESL teachers and even companies that break movies into small
sections, and then have students "interact" with the movie in order to teach ESL
vocabulary or grammar. The author believes that the most effective approach, as
well as the most efficient way for ESL students to learn great amounts of
vocabulary is to seriously study the synopses first, and then sit back and watch
the entire movie all the way through.
The author provides detailed strategies for teachers to use in the classroom.
Teachers are encouraged to act as facilitators and help students explore the use
of the English language in spontaneous conversation about film that depict
everyday experiences within American as well as foreign culture.
The author suggests that the movies should not stand on their own, but should be
embedded into an instructional unit. The guides themselves serve as a
foundation for pre-film discussion. Students are encouraged to study the
relevant synopsis in the days before seeing the movie. The teacher can then
review them in class before the actual screening. Teachers are encouraged to
engage in a general conversation concerning any of the themes that the film will
be exploring. A list of possible subjects for background readings and class
exploration follows the discussion questions at the end of each guide. It is
suggested that teachers may want to pass out an article relevant to the film in
the days before actually viewing the film.
After viewing the movie, the author suggests that the teacher create a situation
where students can express their personal reactions without feeling
intimidated. Students might also write down some immediate personal reactions
after the movie ends, such as whether they were surprised, pleased, or upset.
Another strategy shared by the author is to review some of the more difficult
vocabulary that is used in the movie, giving the students one more opportunity
to internalize the synopses. During this time, the teacher could review
alternative ways of saying certain things. Post-film discussion is integrated
into the lesson as an excellent opportunity to go over both the movie itself as
well as the language that is used within it.
Every synopsis has a list of suggested questions, some of which may be directed
at measuring whether specific points in the movie were understood. Teachers can
use the general questions that are provided as pre-film discussion topics.
The presentation of materials has the potential to clearly improve faculty and
students' abilities to teach and learn the materials. There are multiple links,
teacher strategies, and discussion questions included with each guide.
Students are given basic vocabulary to ensure effective understanding of the
film. The guides model a useful strategy for organizing thoughts for
The materials can be readily integrated into language/culture learning
activities. It is clear that culture and language drive the use of this website
and the materials included within the body of the site as well as the links.
The author provides numerous strategies for teachers to use to help them
increase student discussion and personal commentary.
The materials can be used in a variety of ways to achieve teaching and learning
goals. Teachers can easily embed material from this site into all subject
areas, and modify the activities to meet the individual needs of students.
Independent learning can be facilitated easily.
The teaching-learning goals are easy to identify. The author of this site
states throughout the pages that students are to use these movie guides as a
source of support for learning about culture and language. The site is meant to
support students in their learning, as well as support teachers in their
efforts to provide quality instruction in a way that integrates real-life
situations into learning.
- Students could become too reliant on the guides, and use them in place of
actually seeing the movie. This would limit the spontaneous, personal reaction
to the events depicted in the film. Used with caution and guidance.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- The site is very organized and eye-catching. Information and graphics are
adequate and not overwhelming. The site was very easy to navigate and the
language guides are displayed in your choice of PDF, HTML, or WORD.
- A short video of a lesson or synopsis of a lesson would be very useful for