Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

ELT through Films: A Supplementary Aid for the Practitioner

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

ELT through Films: A Supplementary Aid for the Practitioner

Article excerpt

The role of films and literature in English Language Teaching (ELT) has recently emerged as a new field of enquiry. It is the buzzword in the learning domain: edutainment. Empirical studies in language acquisition time and again prove that it is a complex process where surroundings and cognitive processes play important roles. The paper addresses a supplementary approach to ELT through films and literature. It discusses the rationale of this approach along with the framework for implementing the methodology. The paper also seeks to interrogate the counterpoint that films as a pedagogical tool are easier to execute as they would involve only typical classroom discussions. The paper outlines a well-designed, structured approach right from the planning, execution and implementation stages encompassing choice of films and demographics of the learner, methodology and its link to listener/ audience comprehension at the syntactic, semantic and stylistic levels. It also addresses the structural differences of ELT through multimedia versus ELT through films and its comparative merits. With respect to using literature for teaching English, sound suggestions are made by matching the key skills in English language acquisition (reading, writing, listening and writing) to the literary methods used to implement it. Despite growing innovations in ELT, much of it has also not been successful. The paper also addresses the challenges in ELT through films.


The role of films as well as literature in ELT generated much debate and discussion in recent times among linguists, English teachers, critics and practitioners alike. Nevertheless, pioneering research in the 20th century by scholars like Collie and Slater (1987, pp. 3-6) endorsed literature as a useful tool for ELT by virtue of its authenticity and cross-cultural scope. However, cynicism about the effectiveness of these relations that ELT world encountered was not new (Parkinson and Reid Thomas, 2000; Hall, 2005; Carter and Stockwell, 2008; and Paran, 2008). The intrinsic worth of reading extensively to improve literary competence at the lexical level has hardly been questioned. But reading and its direct link to overall success in linguistic competency is hotly debated in ELT circles. However, the role of films in ELT is sadly understressed or underestimated, as popular perception has it that films only serve as entertainers. The paper attempts to address this charge and reconciles key English language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) to the pedagogical value of films. The symbiosis of literature and ELT generates various pedagogical ideas, interesting methodologies, instructional designing approaches, etc., while presenting many challenges in its implementation. How could films address such gaps?

* What are the educational benefits of ELT through films?

* What is the framework for its effective implementation?

As well as seeking answers to these questions, the author investigates the limitations of literature and conventional multimedia for ELT and compares it to the edge films have in learning.

Films and ELT - The Rationale

Much of the existing literature on the pedagogical value of films is scant. Much of the available literature clearly highlights the role films play in ELT. Films help learners, experience real language in context and improve their own pronunciation as well as their cultural awareness (Lowe, 2007, pp. 16-17). Undoubtedly, films provide different language samples to expose learners to multicultural discourses and conventions, thus raising their pragmatic understanding across cultures. The approach holds, as interactional language acquisition methods are largely effective at learning semantic, syntactic and phonological cues at a deeper level. Paivio (1965) suggested the importance of images in enhancing comprehension, storage and recall of information. Text co-occurring with moving images can also aid second language comprehension (Price, 1983; Markham, 1989; and Garza, 1991). …

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