The Application of English Movies in Higher Vocational English Teaching

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1 Sino-US English Teaching, ISSN March 2012, Vol. 9, No. 3, D DAVID PUBLISHING The Application of English Movies in Higher Vocational English Teaching WANG Ying Tangshan Vocational and Technical College, Tangshan, China ZHANG Hai-feng Hebei University of Science and Technology, Tangshan Branch, Tangshan, China Since the rapid development of China s ecnomy, especially China s entry to World Trade Organization, English has become more and more significant. Now in China, College English, an integral part of higher learning, is a required basic course for undergraduate students. In order to deepen teaching reform and improve teaching quality, a wide variety of teaching methods enter the classroom. With the advancement of society and development of modern educational technology, English movies have gained its popularity with more and more advantages recognized in higher vocational English teaching. English movies can not only arouse the students interests to study English but also improve English teaching effect and teaching efficiency. So, this paper aims at how to apply English Movies to higher vocational English teaching. Keywords: English movies, higher vocational English, English teaching The Current Situation of English Movies in Higher Vocational English Teaching Although the current English education in China still has its drawbacks, we are delighted to see that it has a greater progress in the new teaching idea. In recent years, English education has undergone substantial changes. Various medias such as movies, music, and Internet are used to help the students learn English in a more convenient way. Using English movies for teaching is a very effective auxiliary teaching method and it is an important supplement of the higher vocational English teaching. Nowadays, most of the college students in China have the experience of watching an English movie in class. Some students like the way to learn English, because they can learn a lot from the characters personality, their attitudes towards life, and cultural background in different countries besides language. They can also enjoy many activities such as role-play, group discussion, debates and so on. While other students who are used to spoon-feeding teaching method are worried about the method, and they think watching movies will waste their limited learning time and bring about great difficulties in oral practice activities. Teachers also have their opinions on it, some think that watching movies can help them motivate their students activity, encourage them to practice their oral English, and provide a lot of cultural information. However, there are also some teachers not good at using the new teaching aid. They just play the movie from beginning to the end in class. The students can WANG Ying, middle school senior teacher, Department of Foreign Languages, Tangshan Vocational and Technical College. ZHANG Hai-feng, lecturer, Department of Economics, Hebei University of Science and Technology, Tangshan Branch.

2 ENGLISH MOVIES IN HIGHER VOCATIONAL ENGLISH TEACHING 1011 only watching it without any necessary guidance or analysis from their teachers. And most of them just watch it for enjoyment and appreciation, completely ignoring the learning purposes. Thus, it really has little help in learning English just by watching it. So if the teachers want to make better use of English movies for teaching, we should fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of English movies teaching. The Advantages and Disadvantages of English Movies in Higher Vocational English Teaching Compared with any other kind of teaching aids, movie teaching has so many advantages. English movies have quite a unique advantage in introducing foreign culture. English movies could show the actual situation of a town, a city, or a country and the real structure of culture, things like geographic features, national customs, and citizen characteristics and so on. In a word, English movies can help improve the students ability in cross-cultural communication. English movies can also help the students to improve their English spoken and listening ability and enlarge their vocabulary. English movies provide a good learning environment for college students. By watching movies, the students can know the differences between American and English pronunciation at the same time and learn fluent and idiomatic English. And we all know that English movies have the characteristics of rich contents, vivid plots, and varied subjects. All these can arouse the students interests and help to improve the students study efficiency, thus enhancing their comprehensive ability. As is well known to all, everything has its drawbacks. Aside from so many advantages, it still has the following disadvantages and problems. First, it is difficult for the teachers to find the movies fit for the students. In order to achieve a better teaching effect, the teachers have to think about the difficulty, the time length, the historical and cultural background, and some other aspects of the movie. Second, it is also difficult to devise the match exercises. Playing an English movie is not for entertainment but for learning English, so students need some related exercises to consolidate what they have learnt in the movie. Third, it is difficult to grasp the teaching effect. These following conditions may affect the effectiveness of teaching. The students may be attracted by the plot of the movie and forgot the purpose and aim of watching the movie or they may rely on the subtitle too deeply, or maybe they lack further discussion and study, etc. A Few Issues Involved in Applying English Movies to Higher Vocational English Teaching Now most colleges have realized the significance of English movies and begin to use English movies into their English teaching. But there are many problems in applying English movies for English teaching, or rather to say, there are some misunderstanding in both teachers and students on this new teaching method. Selection of Movies According to the purpose of English movie teaching, we had better choose movies from the following three aspects. The first aspect is the difficulty of the movie. The movie that the teacher should choose is neither too difficult nor too easy for the students, and it must be right and helpful to the students study. The second aspect is the length of the movie. In higher vocational colleges, there are only two periods in each class. If the time of playing movies is too long, that will affect teachers teaching arrangement and if the students only enjoy the highlights of the movies, the continuity of the story may be affected and it is hard for the students to understand

3 1012 ENGLISH MOVIES IN HIGHER VOCATIONAL ENGLISH TEACHING the overall movies. The third aspect is the subject of the movie. The teachers should avoid the violent movies, horror movies, action movies, disaster movies and so on. We can show the students some cartoons, life movies, comedy movies, and inspirational movies. In summary, these movies like The Lion King (1994), Finding Nemo (2003), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Forrest Gump (1994), and Front of The Class (2008) with plainer and clearer language than others, slow speed, and idiomatic expressions will be more suitable for the students in higher vocational colleges to learn English. Teaching Mode At present, most teachers and students are very happy and welcome movie teaching in class, but they almost ignore the teaching goals. They also tend to enjoy English movies in class, without any tasks to do. Some teachers just play them through computer and leave the students to watch them by themselves until the end of the class. Most of them think it is a good chance to relax themselves and they completely neglect the academic goal of movie teaching. The teachers should use a variety of teaching mode to carry out the teaching, and moreover, they should arrange different tasks and provide necessary guidance to achieve the best results of movie teaching. Preparations for the Class Before playing the movie in class, the teachers should give a brief introduction about the movie, including the specific historical and cultural background, the outline of the story, and the leading actors to arouse the student s desire to watch and their passion to learn, and to help students comprehend the film s content. Of course, all the introductions should be in English so that the students can master many related words and make full preparation for the movie. In addition, the teachers should arrange some tasks and activities related to the movie before class to help the students better understand the movie. The Application of English Movies The application of English movies to teaching is very complicated, it is not just that the teachers play and the students watch. So in order to help the students make better use of English movies to learn English, teachers should make full preparations before class. Pre-watching Activities Before watching the movie, both the teachers and the students should prepare for it. Teachers need to get all the teaching materials (the textbook, pictures, or poster, etc.) prepared to help students get to know something about the movie. Then teachers can design some exercises to be presented and activities to be worked out in class. The teachers can design some activities as followings: (1) Introduce the topic, cultural background, and some other information of the movie; (2) Vocabulary: Give the students a list of words related to the movie. If there are some words they do not know, ask them to look up in a dictionary immediately or turn to the teacher for help; (3) Set one or two general questions to meet the main content points in the movie; and (4) Discussion: Discuss what the film will be about according to the title of the movie. And as for students, they should read the reference materials or they can look for other related materials to understand the film better. These activities serve as a warming-up exercise before watching the movie. It is a good previewing activity for different levels of students in class, and it aims to help students have a better understanding of it.

4 ENGLISH MOVIES IN HIGHER VOCATIONAL ENGLISH TEACHING 1013 While-Watching Activities When watching the movie, the teacher should set the students some activities to achieve the best teaching purpose. All these activities are related to the film and they must be arranged from the simple to the more complex and from the easy to the difficult. The film can be played twice or more to strengthen their impression of the movie. Students watch the film straight through at the first time to strengthen their understanding from their preparation. At the second time, teachers can choose certain episode of the film. During this process, teachers can suddenly stop and ask students to do the exercise given in advance. Gap-filling. Provide some key sentences and paragraphs based on the movie with blanks. This exercise requires students remember key words, slang, phrases, or important information to fill the gaps. This activity can be easy for some advanced students. However, it can help those elementary and intermediate students to practice their spoken English. Multiple-choice. List words with four explanations. Among these explanations, certain or all could be possible for answers. Students are asked to choose those, which are fit for the meaning in the movie. True or false. Give students worksheets with some statements. Ask students to decide whether it is true or false according to the film. For better understanding the film, the teacher can ask the students why and get them to say their reasons. All these activities can be an effective supplement for students to better understand the film and also will be the foreshadowing to the next step. Post-watching Activities After watching the movie, the students must have a deeper understanding of the movie. But watching a film is not the final purpose, but to improve the studetns English application ability. Guide students to organize certain after-watching activities to combine the language input with language output. So the following activities can help the teacher check whether the students have understood the film and whether they can put what they have learnt into usage. Group discussion. Students are divided into four or five groups, and then each group selects one leader to present their group members idea after discussion. Role playing. When students have a clear understanding of the presentation, teachers select certain part of the scene and ask students to act out in front of the class. Writing. Ask students to write a short summary or comments on any issues or characters they like in the film. In the composition, the students can express their own opinion about the moive and analysis the behavior and linguistic characteristics of the main characters in the film, etc. The teacher can see where still needs to be improved by the activities and then improve and supplement the activities to achieve the best teaching results. Conclusions Compared with other teaching methods, it is ultimately good for conducting classroom activity, practicing students speaking, and listening ability, etc.. English movies teaching has been accepted by the majority of English teachers and education experts, and has also been proved that it is a kind of very effective means of foreign language teaching. There is no doubt that English movies have a positive role in promoting English

5 1014 ENGLISH MOVIES IN HIGHER VOCATIONAL ENGLISH TEACHING teaching. But it is undeniable; it is difficult for the students in Higher Vocational Colleges, who have a poor level in basic English, to improve their English level through English Movie Teaching. Therefore, the teachers should play a good role of a designer, leader, and researcher. So, it will still be the primary problem for our study and research in the future on how to make better use of English movies in higher vocational English teaching. This paper gives suggestions for teachers on how to plan their English movie lessons for English teaching by searching for suitable movie resoures and teaching method, a variety of preparations before class and the application of the English movies. And the employment of these means and methods in class should be revised with the changing teaching goals and teaching design syllabus. They still need to be improved as more and more English movie courses are put into practice. English movie teaching makes language teaching more attractive and interesting and it requires both the effort of teachers and students. References Braddock, B. (1996). Using films in the English class. Hemel Hempstead: Phoenix ELT. Goodwyn, A. (1992). English teaching and media Eeducation. Philadellphia: Open University Press. Holden, W. (2000). Making the most of movies: Keeping film response journals. Modern English Teacher, 9(2). HU, S. F. (2006). On teaching non-english majors listening and speaking through videos. Teaching English China, 29(2). Johnson, K. (2002). An introduction to foreign language learning and teaching. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. Lowe, M. (2007, Autumn). Films in English language teaching. IH Journal, 23, Ryan, S. (1998, November). Using films to develop learner motivation. The Internet TESL Journal, IV(11). Victor, W. W. (1971). The uses of film in the teaching of English. Ontario: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Ward, J., & Lepeintre. (1996). The creative connection in movies and TV: What degrassi high teach teachers. The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning and Teaching, III. XING, Z. L. (2005). Some advantageous uses of video in English teaching. Journal of Changchun University of Science and Technology, 18(1),

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