Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Film and Novel: Different Media in Literature and Implications for Language Teaching

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Film and Novel: Different Media in Literature and Implications for Language Teaching

Article excerpt

Abstract

Film and novel are two main dominant media in literature. They exhibit great differences in terms of image vs. word, sound vs. silence, point of view, and time, and so on. The differences between novel and film leave a great many implications for language teaching. Film and video can be used to aid students' literacy. In view of the visual signs of the film, some opportunities can be created for students to pick up the non-verbal language. Students can also be encouraged to make video by themselves based on what they learn.

Key words: Film and novel; Implications; Language teaching film

INTRODUCTION

Film and novel, as two main dominant media in literature, have attracted millions of people from all over the world. However, reading a novel and seeing a film are quite different experiences. Many films have been and are still being adapted from novels and therefore become one of the most easily accessible language products available to the students. Yet many teachers fail to realize their pedagogical values and are reluctant to use them in the classroom except as "a bit of time-filling end-of-term entertainment" (Voller & Widdows, 1993). In fact, just because film is associated with fun, they, if integrated with novel, could be very motivating and useful in teaching. This paper, beginning with a discussion about the differences between film and novel, attempts to explore some constructive uses for film and video in the language teaching.

1. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FILM AND NOVEL

Film and novel, based on their different nature, have many differences in the way of telling stories, such as ways of narration, time and space, so on and so forth. Here, I would like to discuss some of the main differences in terms of image vs. word, sound vs. silence, point of view, and time, etc.

1.1 Image vs. Word

The most obvious and most important difference between and novel rests on the distinctive features of the twQ media ± use in telling a story: image vs. word. ... ,, . " , The philosopher C. S. Peirce uses the terms sign and "icon" to distinguish the relationship between two things when one can represent another (Montgomery, 1992, p. 193). A word can be a sign, which indicates an arbitrary relationship, and a photograph can be an icon, which a less arbitrary relationship. "As mediums of film is made of icons, while prose is made of signs" (Montgomery, 1992, p.193). Therefore, the visual images in the film seem to have a more direct and immediate relationship to what they depict than the verbal words in the novel in view of the fact that the images resemble more to the reality. In this sense, the story presented by the film is much easier to be understood than that told by the novel, especially when certain cultural factors are involved. For example, when a Chinese reads the complicated description about a banquet in British context, he may still feel confused about what it is like even he can understand the meaning of all the descriptive words in the novel. On the contrary, when presented the image directly in the film, he will grasp the main features of a banquet immediately, which is quite helpful in his understanding the plot of the story or even the author's intention of writing about this.

In contrast, the novel seems to be more oblique in its relationship to reality, considering that the world in the novel is gradually unfolded by the narrator. However, on the other hand, this allows readers to reread, reflect, appreciate what they have covered or imagine the following plot if they like, which seems impossible in seeing a film with the continuously moving images. In reading a novel, the readers can freely choose the speed and content of their reading, not necessarily paying attention to the text to the same degree. They may concentrate on a certain chapter of the novel or flexibly skip parts of the text. Montgomery's (1992, p.192) words seem to support this point of view: "Reading a prose novel is usually a solitary act and apparently allows greater degrees of discretion and control to the reader". …

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