Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - Make Film Your Friend: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - Make Film Your Friend: Resources

Article excerpt

Selective use of cinema can boost your language lessons.

As teachers of modern languages, many of us like to give pupils the chance to gain some cultural awareness, and the occasional use of carefully selected films is a perfect way to do it. But can you use films as a more specific teaching tool?

I love using modern media to show pupils that the languages they are learning are vivid and relevant, and I firmly believe that they can have a specific pedagogic value.

For instance, let's look at Tom Tykwer's Lola Rennt (2000), a fast-paced film that is a cinematic version of "chaos theory". The title character has 20 minutes to get 100,000 Deutschmarks to save her boyfriend from robbing a store to appease his gangster boss. We see three different versions of events, each subtly different, through interactions between Lola and a character.

As a starter activity, offer simple comprehension questions, leading into a straightforward present tense narrative exercise.

"Lola geht zur Bank, um ihren Vater um das Geld zu bitten."

Then the teacher can show the second version of events, and pupils can describe differences in the two versions.

"Im ersten Teil hat Manni den Supermarkt geraubt, aber im zweiten Teil ist Lola rechtzeitig angekommen."

The third and final part of the film can give pupils the chance to learn how to use the conditional (rendered in German using the imperfect subjunctive) to describe past or future, or by using the future tense to predict events.

"Wenn Lola im ersten Teil rechtzeitig ankame, dann wurde Manni den Supermarkt nicht geraubt haben. …

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