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Five Tips for Using Movies to Help Learn a New Language

Five Tips for Using Movies to Help Learn a New Language

Using Movies for Language Learning

Almost everyone loves movies. From action and adventure seekers to comedy or animated features to Romance and Westerns, there is a genre for you. You can follow the exploits of Indiana Jones and his search for ancient treasures or an odd couple of robots trekking their way through the galaxy. You can enjoy an emotional love story or split your sides laughing at a variety of antics by man or animals alike. You can also use movies to help learn a foreign language. Here are five tips to get you started.

Tip 1 Try Mimicking Select a character in the movie you identify with; the dashing, daring hero or the pretty, coquettish damsel in distress. Perhaps the supporting characters are more to your taste; the humorous side-kick, a brazen in-law or mischievous youngster. Pick one, then practice speaking their lines in a scene or segment from the movie. Be sure to imitate accent, tone and expressions as closely as you can.

Tip 2 Use a movie DVD The format most useful for you will likely be one which allows you to stop, start and repeat segments of the movie dialogue at will. If you don’t understand a sentence or phrase, stop, rewind and listen again. Do this repeatedly until your brain engages and you “get it” or try asking for help from a friend, teacher or native speaker if necessary. Using a DVD for this is less risky than using a tape. Celluloid tape can ultimately develop wear if a section is repeatedly rewound and played over and over again.

Tip 3 Use a short scene or segment Rather than try to “do” an entire movie as practice, why not select a dramatic scene with plenty of dialogue spoken by the character you’re mimicking? It’ll be much faster to repeat, simpler to memorize and easier to practice with. You can try staging the scene for yourself, adding dialogue, asking questions and even taking the roles of other characters in the scene. Once you’ve “mastered” a scene, go through and choose another from the movie. Then repeat the process to get more practice yet. Quite possibly, there are two, three or even more scenes which can inspire you to frequent practice helping you to learn your new language even faster.

Tip 4 Listen and Repeat Remember that your technique can be a simple one, just listen and repeat. If you truly want to take the process further, imitate body language, gestures and movements of your character as well. It’s important to get timing, rhythm and intonation as close to the original as you can. Language rhythm with speed, pausing and tonality are typically well illustrated when using movies for language learning purposes. You should be trying to mimic the actions, gestures and speech of the character as closely as you can for maximum language learning effect.

Tip 5 First be him, then be her Practice being different characters to help round out your foreign language speaking skills. If you’re a male, don’t be skittish about practicing female characters. If you’re a female, don’t neglect practice with male speaking roles. In many film genres, there are scenes involving extensive dialogue between a man and woman. These can be especially useful for their rich dialogue content. First be him for multiple practice sessions, then be her for a few practice sessions more. Soap Operas are particularly good for this and usually contain dramatic content to enhance the dialogue. No slapping, fist fights, cat fights or violence, please!

Use Movies for Foreign Language Practice

However you decide to do so, using movies for language practice is an excellent way to deepen your cultural knowledge, improve your use of idioms, expressions and vocabulary in context. It’s a great way to generally boost your speaking and listening comprehension abilities too. These five tips can help get you started beginning with the very next movie you decide to watch.