Movies and TV Shows in Second Language Classes.


With the addition of televisions in classrooms, the second language classes were already taken another dimension. With projectors and now with SMART Boards, the image and sound is better than ever.

By putting a movie or a TV show in their classroom, ESL teachers give a chance to their students to hear “real-life” communication of native English speakers (if we take Quebec students as the example in this article). Plus, a student always hear the same person talk in their L2 (the teacher), so it gives them an opportunity to hear other people with different ways of speaking and different accents.

I was an elementary/secondary student and I can tell that most students take movies and TV shows as a free time where they can relax and enjoy. It makes them happy, but what it really does is that it makes them improve on the hearing level of their L2.

Some teachers even tell their students to watch a TV show or a movie and do a little summary or analysis on it as a homework assignment. It makes me wonder if it is a better homework than giving a written exercise to do.

Depending on the level of the students, putting subtitles can be a good idea. For example, if it is an English movie, putting English subtitles can be great because the students can read and hear how the words are pronounced at the same time. (This point is subject of debate, see why on this blog).

By watching actors speak, you can learn what the expressions and slang words are in your target language. You will not learn about slang in school, and if you do, you won’t spend lot of time on it; but when it comes to real-life situations, you can face someone using slang terms and you might not understand if all you did was to go to your L2 classes. As a French learner puts it:

“People always say that you should watch movies to help you learn a foreign language. I think it’s useful because you get to hear lots of slang and cool expressions – it’s how people really talk. I love cinema as well, and French cinema, in particular, is awesome.

Watching all these movies is definitely going to improve my French and will make it much easier next time I go to France!”

Though it might seem obvious, the choice of movies and shows can be quite delicate. Some might consider “The Hunger Games” as a movie with too much violence in it. To be sure the choice of movie is correct, a teacher might refer to their superior. There has been some cases where a teacher had problems after making an inappropriate choice of film. For example, a substitute teacher of Ohio decided to present a horror movie (The ABCs of Death) to her 14 to 18 years old students, and she is now facing felony charges (to see the article and the trailer of the movie click here). This is a proof that you have to watch the movie before showing it or at least you have to be sure the content is conventional for a class of elementary or secondary level.


By watching movies and shows, students also acquire useful and interesting knowledge their teachers might have never told them (e.g. we say “I do” when someone ask to get married or we say never mind when we mean “laissez-faire”). Those are all little language details that I never heard in my elementary/secondary English classes, but that could be useful to know if I travel to other countries like the USA or Australia (even in the English cities of Canada).


PowerPoint: A good tool for teachers and students?


PowerPoint is a tool for people who want to use a device to prepare presentations of any kind. It is part of Microsoft office and with the years, it developed and updated so the product became better. I am using the 2013 version which is the most recent version.

I think that PowerPoint is a good device for both students and teachers. It is easy to use and is stress-free for anyone trying it for the first time.

When you open the device, you have the choice to begin a project (you even have prepared themes) or to watch a demonstration on how to use the product. What is useful with the “begin a project” (blank version) is that you already have a template for the first sheet you do. You just have to press on it to insert a title and a text. Then you can add as many slides as you want.

For teachers, if used correctly, it can be a great device to give a class. Plus, internet connections is not needed so if, for some reasons, the instructor doesn’t have internet in class or if there is a problem with the connection, s/he can still use PowerPoint.

Another interesting aspect, is that you can put links which directly take you to any page you want on the internet. You can also directly put an image, a song/voice recording or a video to your slide.

The all-time access to the edit sections allows teachers to, as said on this website, “reflect on your lesson and correct any needed changes. Finally, you can create the perfect lesson!” You can add information you forgot to put and change wrong information.

There is also a place to add sounds like applause or turning sheet sound so it can keep students aware and awake. It can also make them laugh like if for example, you choose a “bomb” sound; you can even choose a sound downloaded on your computer.


You can even put arrows or do schemas as well as changing the text colour, size and font so that the information can be clearer for everyone.

In class, you can use it on smart board or other devices so that the image is displayed in a large version and everyone, from the ones in front to the ones in the back, can clearly see what is written on it.

Maryellen Weimer made a survey on how often do students/teachers use PowerPoint in class and more than 55% of people answers that they used it « always » or « frequently ».

The University of Central Florida presents some advantages of using PowerPoint on its website in an article called « Effective Use of PowerPoint »:

« Potential benefits of using presentation graphics include:

  • Engaging multiple learning styles
  • Increasing visual impact
  • Improving audience focus
  • Providing annotations and highlights
  • Analyzing and synthesizing complexities
  • Enriching curriculum with interdisciplinarity
  • Increasing spontaneity and interactivity
  • Increasing wonder »

A negative point of PowerPoint would be that some people find it old-fashioned, there are some alternatives that I tried and liked a lot even though I thought they were a bit more difficult to use for a beginner (e.g. Prezi). To see other negative aspects and alternatives, go here.

Overall, I think that PowerPoint is a good tool for teachers to use in class; it makes clear and easy-to-read presentations for students. Also, it can be sent to students in order to have them study; it makes things less boring and more clear (e.g. if the teacher uses images and put links).

MODIFICATION: Power point is a tool that can be used in ESL classrooms. It can be used with the students on the elementary level and the students on the secondary level. An example of an assignment an elementary teacher could give would be to present a movie or a book they read to the class. They could create 5 to 10 slides and put pictures of characters and scenes. They could also write the name of the character, the most important point of the movie, and a short review. It could be a good way for the students to bond with each other, to practice their English (writing and oral), and to have fun. Power point is an easy tool for students their age, it is a bit easier than prezi and gives good result in a short time. On the secondary level, an ESL teacher could ask his or her students to talk about a country. The slides could include information about the country. For example, a slide could be about the religion of most people living in the country; another could be about the special holidays. I think the ESL teachers should use power point in class to have good results in a short time. It is easy to use, especially for elementary students. It can also be good for one-period activities like to create a few slides on a new concept and to present it to the class at the end of the period.