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Movies in the classroom

And the Oscar for the Best Achievement in Vocabulary Notes on an ESL Movie Site goes to…

Raymond Weschler – a California writer, ESL instructor, librarian, attorney, and self-described “really cool guy” – whose passion for movies and teaching inspired him to create

This site is for ESL teachers who want to bring the silver screen their intermediate/advanced classrooms (or self-directed advanced students who want support for watching films independently).

Weschler has taken a number of American films and produced a comprehensive guide for each one, featuring:

  • a plot summary
  • a description of the major characters
  • a glossary of vocabulary and potentially difficult cultural references
  • questions for class discussion

Check out a sample guide for the space drama Apollo 13 [pdf].

The variety of films is impressive, e.g., intense urban drama Taxi Driver to gross-out comedy Dumb and Dumber and classic comedy/romance Breakfast at Tiffany’s. For a full movie list, click here.

Needless to say, instructors are recommended to pre-screen any films they might want to use (American Pie sounds sweet, but…) and read (and edit if necessary) Weschler’s glossary beforehand. He doesn’t shy away from (and indeed occasionally revels in) detailed explanations of crude slang, which plays better in some contexts than others.

The vocab notes are divided to focus on different scenes throughout the movie, which makes it easier to divide up the movie into parts, perhaps shown on consecutive days, for less exhausting student viewing.

If you have ideas or resources for using film in the classroom, please leave a comment below.

Comments (2)

  • Reply Brett Reynolds - February 25, 2011

    Here are a few movie-related activities I put together for Japanese high school students many years ago. They relate to four movies: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Beauty and the Beast, Man in the Moon, and My Neighbour Totoro.

    • Reply Tyson - February 26, 2011

      Thanks, Brett. I found the process to get to your files (which I ultimately didn’t find) complicated. Could you leave the DropBox link in a comment here instead?


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