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English for everyday life

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Here are ideas to bring English for everyday life into your classroom. This post focuses on integrating films and movies into language learning so pupils experience real life situations.

Word of warning!

You do not want the students just sitting around like vegetables when playing a video. Instead, you should integrate the students into the lesson since they learn better when engaged and not spoon-fed. So, get the students to do the work.

Pre-Class Task

Before class, ask students to each find a movie trailer and come up with three questions about the trailer. To do this, give them some guidance and adapt the questions to the level of your pupils.

The first question must be a language question, such as what does the man say before he pulls out his weapon?

Perhaps the second question can be an observational one, like what color is the dress, what kind of dessert did the couple share?

The third question is about the film, who is the main star and costar, where does the film take place, or what is the name of the movie?

In Class

Firstly, make teams and then show the questions.

Next, show the trailer once or twice.

Finally, total up points after checking answers for both teams.

Depending on how long this took, switch to a different activity, or move on to the next trailer.

Tips

The trailer should be no more than a minute. Usually, trailers are three minutes long, show only the first minute and the questions have to be answered from the content in that first minute.

If you use all three minutes of the trailer, have three students prepare nine questions for it.

If you find a film that is a hit among the class, you might use bigger chunks of the film for a future lesson.

Most of all, do not spend your precious time looking at movie trailers to try to satisfy your students. Let the students do the work, and you guide them.

Great English for everyday life resources

 
Check my games books for lots more ideas! Primary school and Teen / Adult activities.

 

Challenges with English for everyday life

Are you having trouble finding suitable trailers and excepts? If so, then the following question from an English teacher in Belgium is relevant to you. They ask:

“I’m in my first year teaching. I bought your book “ESL classroom activities” and it’s helped me a great deal!

I am contacting you regarding the activity “movies-using previews and excerpts, movie game 9: watchers and listeners”. I’ve just started teaching English to adults with quite different levels, ranging from lower to upper-intermediate. The activity seems very interesting, so I’ve watched different movie trailers but they all seem too difficult and fast. Would you have any suggestions?”

 

Finding the best short films for the task

1. Go for slower-paced films, in British English, such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and any period drama genre.

2. Avoid action movies where people spend a lot of time yelling at each other, and most of the time even native speakers have no idea what they are saying let alone students of English as a second language!

3. For that particular game using movie excerpts, remember that your students will be watching the pictures as well, so they will have some idea of what is going on from that, even if they don’t understand every word. On the other hand, in some movies people just talk too fast, even I have trouble understanding them!

Consider subtitles

In addition, you could show the trailers with subtitles in English, so your students hear the English, and read it, plus they have the pictures.

Some great movies and films!

Try films like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, in British English, with actors like Colin Firth, Judy Dench, and Emma Thompson. All those British actors speak clearly.  Go on! Please give me some younger actors with superb diction in the comments box! That’s one thing, and secondly, try Period Drama as the category – those films are more sedate, unlike comedy, where dialogues are too fast and generally contain too much slang.

Try searching under great American movies or best British films for ideas.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/best-british-films-ever-made

If you know of something ideal for English for everyday life – please stick it in the blog comments. We teachers will all thank you.

 

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