Education

Upgrading the Language Classroom with Films

Anushka Yadav
Upgrading the Language Classroom with Films

The beginning of 2018 was marked by a list of changes made by CBSE. NCERT made roughly 1,334 changes, including additions, correction and data update, in its 182 textbooks. Of these, the maximum changes (573) have been made to science books, followed by social science (316) and Sanskrit textbooks (163). As part of these changes, CBSE also excluded English Communicative and Elective. However, as educators and policymakers, changes in the curriculum are required that are concurrent to the twenty-first century’s pace.

Language and Literature teachers abroad have been using films in their classes for decades. It’s time for India to adopt films as teaching and learning tools.

Screening a film in a classroom may be engaging for students. However, teachers must understand the importance of planning for viewing a film, in order to make it an effective learning experience. Along with planning, reviewing the school’s policy on the use of films in an English class is imperative.

For different grade levels, films could be selected on the basis of their ratings.

  • G rated films - these films do not require any signed permission form
  • PG rated films - A signed parental permission form is required for students under age 13. At the elementary school level, the principal needs to ask a committee to review the use of the film prior to granting permission.
  • PG 13 rated films - A signed parental permission form is required for students under age 14. No use of PG 13 films at an elementary school level. In a middle school, the principal requires to ask a committee to review the use of the film prior to granting permission.
  • R rated films - A signed parental permission form is required for all students. The principal will ask a committee to review the film before granting permission. Film clips are preferred for R rated films while it should not be used in middle or elementary schools.

The awardee of the British Council’s Teaching English blog, Kieran Donaghy, stresses on films being a rich source of language learning. She believes learning from films is highly effective because it is motivating and enjoyable; making it a successful second-language acquisition tool. Films are an integral part of today’s generation which further, makes it sensible to introduce films and videos into the language classroom.

Secondly, films prove to be a source of authentic and varied language; they help the student to understand English as the language of real-life conversation. Further, it helps them with natural expressions and the natural flow of speech. With students going abroad for higher education, it is necessary that the education system prepares them practically and effectively to use English in real life scenarios.

The understanding of language is enhanced by giving students a visual context through language exchanges, facial expressions and gestures simultaneously through films. It is the power of visual cues that strengthens the verbal message while providing a focus of attention.

Bringing variety and flexibility to the language classroom, films extend the range of teaching techniques and resources; it also acts as a catalyst in the development of all four communicative skills. For example, a whole film or sequence can be used to practise listening and reading, and as a model for speaking and writing. A film can also act as a springboard for follow-up tasks such as discussions, debates on social issues, role plays, reconstructing a dialogue or summarising. It is also possible to bring further variety to the language learning classroom by screening different types of film: feature-length films, short sequences of films, short films, and adverts.

Films aren’t just restricted to language learning; often, a film may include moments that go beyond what is being taught in a lesson, allowing the teacher to highlight other important topics from other subjects as well. For example, the movie Gandhi provides information that can help students to discuss world religions, imperialism, non-violent protest, personal freedoms, rights and responsibilities, gender relations, India as a country, and so much more.

However, it is important to understand that films do not teach themselves. The educators and policy-makers should carefully scan through the films before making them a part of the curriculum. The historical or factual inaccuracies should be pointed out by the teacher while giving an introduction to the film before its screening.

include many specific reasons as possible about a film. The Concerns and suggestions of parents should be taken in Commonsense Media Finally, parents might express objection towards the specific content of a film; thus, before the beginning of the academic year, the list of films to be screened can be sent to the parents. Websites like notice.

Imagine a language learning classroom where a film is being shown, the eyes of all students stuck on the screen while they take notes or just simply understand the key issues, use of language or theme of the film. It is followed by a discussion about the various issues or topics revolving around the film. Thus, it is time that we leave traditional language learning techniques behind and accept inquiry and technology as natural parts of our English classes. Let’s think about connecting our students to the larger world while supporting critical and creative minds.

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