Until quite recently it was difficult to find pedagogically sound film material to help students improve their language through watching film, and teachers had to spend many hours creating their own materials. However, with the advent of the Internet there are now a wealth of online resources for both language teachers and their students. With so many resources it’s sometimes difficult for teachers to see the wood for the trees. Here I’m going to recommend the sites and resources that from my own experience I have found most useful and engaging.
There are many websites and blogs which provide detailed and well-structured lesson plans designed around film and television clips, short films and viral videos which save the busy teacher a lot of time. Here are my personal favourites.
Film in Action – http://filminaction.net/
Kieran Donaghy’s blog which accompanies his methodology book Film in Action showcases and extends some of the tasks found in the print edition.
Allat C – http://allatc.wordpress.com/
This is a superb blog by Steve Muir and Tom Spain, which supplies lesson plans designed around short videos , especially clips from television series, for teachers of advanced students (C1 and C2).
Lessonstream – http://lessonstream.org/
Jamie Keddie is a pioneer in the use of video in language teaching, and his website has a wealth of creative and imaginative lesson plans designed around short videos.
Viral ELT – http://viralelt.wordpress.com/
This excellent blog by Ian James is dedicated to exploiting viral videos in language teaching.
Visual Manifesto – http://visualmanifesto.com/
A Visual Manifesto for Language Teaching is a short film created by Anna Whitcher, and Kieran Donaghy, which examines the increasingly important role of images in our world, and how we can encourage students to engage with images more meaningfully and creatively in language learning.
If you want to show whole films either in one sitting or over a number of sessions, it’s necessary to do quite a lot of work on linguistic, cultural and cinematographic features of the film prior to actually watching the film. Not so long ago teachers had to spend many hours creating their own film guides, but nowadays there are several sites where teachers can find free, high quality film guides to use in the language classroom.
ESL Notes – http://www.eslnotes.com/synopses.html
An outstanding resource site, created by Raymond Weschler, which provides over 200 detailed film guides. Each individual guide is a detailed synopsis of a popular classic or contemporary film with an extensive glossary of vocabulary and expressions students come across in the film.
Film in Language Teaching Association – http://www.filta.org.uk/
FILTA is an association of language teachers, film educators and researchers which provides film guides to use in language teaching.
Film Club – http://www.filmclub.org/
A UK charity which gives children and young people the opportunity to watch, discuss and review films supplies hundreds of pedagogically-sound free film guides.
Film Education – http://www.filmeducation.org/
A website that produces well-structured and engaging film guides for a wide range of films.
Creating moving images has never been easier due to the digital revolution, the proliferation of mobile devices, the increased ease of capturing and editing video, and the emergence of video distribution sites such as You Tube and Vimeo. This has led to an explosion in the production of short films and their availability. However, due to the sheer quantity of short films it’s often very difficult for teachers to find high quality short films they can use with their students. Here are my three favourite places for finding creative and innovative short films.
Vimeo Staff Picks – https://vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks
This channel has a great selection of high quality short films handed selected by the staff at Vimeo.
Future Shorts – www.youtube.com/futureshorts
A YouTube channel with hundreds of short films with innovative narrative structures.
Short of the Week – www.shortoftheweek.com
A website dedicated to finding the best short films available online.
Film sites for learners
The Internet now offers students the opportunity to improve their lexical, listening and speaking skills through watching short film clips and short films.
English Central – http://www.englishcentral.com
Possibly the best website for students to improve their speaking and pronunciation. This innovative site provides students with videos with subtitles. The students watch the videos, practise vocabulary used in the video, record themselves repeating what they hear, and then get feedback on their pronunciation.
English Attack – www.english-attack.com/
Young students can improve their English on this community website, which uses clips from film and TV series.
Learn English Teens Film UK – http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/uk-now/film-uk/
A British Council website which gives students the opportunity to watch innovative short films made by young people, and do a variety of activities designed around the films.
Animated movie makers
There are a number of websites where students can create their own animated short films and practise and improve their writing, vocabulary and speaking. Here are the two sites I’ve found students like most.
Go Animate – http://goanimate.com/
A site where learners can create their own animated short films, write the subtitles and create a voice-over.
Zimmer Twins – http://www.zimmertwins.com/
Younger learners love this site where they create short cartoon animations, add subtitles and voice-overs.
Subtitling and revoicing
Students can improve their vocabulary, writing and speaking in a fun and engaging way by subtitling and dubbing television and film clips.
Bombay TV – http://www.grapheine.com/bombaytv/
A fun site where learners can add subtitles and voice-overs to Indian television and film clips.
Clip Flair – http://clipflair.net/
A site where learners can ‘revoice’ (dub) and ‘caption’ (subtitle) video clips.
I hope these resources and websites can help you and your students use film critically and creatively in the classroom and beyond.