Bringing Adventure to English Language Classrooms

Using Movies  to improve Language Skills of Young Learners in English

Stories and songs are strong and effective tools in making young learners understand the subtle nuances of spoken aspects of a language. Many complex pronunciations, word stress patterns and tones can be introduced naturally to them through a song or a story. And, if that story happens to be an animated version/ movie of their favourite characters, there will be an effort from the learner to imbibe the correct practices of using the language. This article focuses on simple yet intriguing activities, so that the teachers succeed in bringing adventure to English language classrooms. Also learners acquire the skills required to speak and listen correctly and meaningfully in a second language, just as any child with English as his/her mother tongue would do.

Teachers involved in teaching English as Second language to Indian students need to put in extra efforts to assist them to speak as naturally as native speakers. It is felt that movies can become an appropriate tool for various levels of learners of ESL due to its appealing story, characters and other audio-visual effects. The activities described in this article share the common goal of improving speaking skills of different learners by igniting a spark of excitement in their minds. The teacher will realise that by bringing adventure to English language classrooms through the adventures of lead characters of a movie named MOANA, their language acquisition becomes more natural and unconscious as their mother tongue acquisition.

This article aims at improving the speaking and listening skills of learners belonging to different levels through the adventures of an American Indian tribal girl named Moana who is fascinated by the sea. Children learning English and/or any language as a second language acquire the listening and speaking skills more or less naturally, when the movies used have  a story with human characters in realistic surroundings and situations which they can associate with, for example in this case since the lead character is a young girl just like them who has a bird as a pet, whose grandma tells her stories from the past and whose parents have put some restrictions on her. Doing activities based on the movie with the young students in the English classrooms, concentrating on the Moana’s stories, as well as viewing the animation film, will encourage them to develop listening as well as speaking skills by comparing story elements of the movie and their real lives.

Before Movie Show
Activity 1: SOS CALLS
Focus on: Word-building and critical thinking
Preferred age group: 6-8 years of age
Materials required: Flash cards/PPT slides with coded messages and its key

Instructions for teacher: Ask the learners to imagine situations where people need to use a secret language. While they tell about various such situations, draw their attention towards storms in the sea. Tell them that in such situations when no other communication is possible, people use a universally understood code language. let them imagine how adventurous such a situation would be. Tell them to visualise a little girl on such an adventurous voyage ad how she sends a message to her friend. Write the coded message and its key on the green board or show the PPT slides. Ask the learners to decipher the message.
One such example is given below: 
Code : BLF DROO YLZIW Y __ __     __ __ __ __  __ __ __   __ __  NB  YLZG! __ __  __ __ __ __!
Key: Read Z as A

Activity 2: Who’s Who?
Focus on: Context-specific Vocabulary, Naming words
Preferred age group: 05-07 years of age
Materials required: Picture cards and naming words cards
Instructions for teacher: Tell the learners that they will be viewing a movie related to the adventures of a tribal girl named Moana, her family, pets and her friends. But before the movie starts, encourage them to play a guessing game about the names of the characters of the movie. There might be some students who have seen the movie, they may be able to recollect and match the naming words with the pictures of the characters correctly. Even if they are not able to, the teacher can tell them to pay attention to the movie and match them correctly while they watch the movie. 
During Movie Show

Activity 3:Words within words
Focus on: Word-Building and Vocabulary
Preferred age group: 5-6 years of age
Materials required: Flash cards with sentences from Gramma Tala’s dialogues written on it, such as: THE OCEAN CHOSE YOU FOR A REASON.

Instructions for teacher: Divide the learners in pairs. Give each pair a flashcard and ask them to write minimum 10 words of three or more letters using the letters in the message from Gramma Tala. Assist them with a few hints.

Activity 4:Memory Game
Focus on: Picture Description through one-word answers and question framing
Preferred age group: 8-10 years of age
Materials required: PPT slides of movie shots or photocopies of pictures from the movie. 10 blank slips for both the teams each, flannel board, pin-up board/ green board, double-sided adhesive tape.
Instructions for teacher:Divide the class into two teams. Name them as Sawaal (Question) and Jawaab (Answer). Show both the teams a picture from the movie for a minute without any interruption/ distractions. Then ask Sawaal team to frame some Wh-questions with one-word answers, such as: Which character is shown in this picture? Similarly ask the Jawaab team to decide some words which can probably be the answers to questions asked by the Sawaal team. Tell both the teams to write their questions and answers on the blank strips provided, fold them and submit to the teacher. 

Now call one team member from each team and pick one strip from the opposite box. This means a team member from Sawaal team will pick up a strip with one-word answer on it and vice-versa. Tell them to pin up these strips on the board one by one. Once all the strips are pinned up on the board, ask the learners to match the questions with correct answers.

Note: Teacher may have to revise the method related to framing wh-questions. Learners need to be told that they have to use a question mark at the end of the question. The teacher needs to draw attention towards the position of the action words which is different in questions and in normal sentences. 
Post Movie Show
Activity 5: Story teller Tattoos
Focus on: Critical thinking skills and Writing skills
Preferred age group:8-10 years of age
Materials required: Flash-cards with Tattoos on one side and words on other side, PPT slides with Tattoos and words
Instructions for teacher: Distribute the Tattoos cards to each learner. Tell them that just as Maui’s tattoos tell stories of his adventures, they can also think of stories revolving around the tattoo and words written on the card given to them. Some tattoos have been shown as examples. Tell them their stories need to use the word written with the tattoo in their story. The story must have: characters, a backdrop, a start and an end.
Activity 6: Songs of Ocean
Focus on: Creative writing skills
Preferred age group: 10-12 years of age
Materials required: Flash cards with pictures and words
Instructions for teacher: Distribute the flash cards with words to the learners and ask them to  create a song or a poem using those words. They need to focus on rhyme and rhythm while they make the poem. Some words that can be used for the poems are: Blue, Tide, Deep, Swim, Chop, Crash,Hook, Waves, Oars and so on.

The movie Moana is an ideal tool to develop language skills for learners of English as a second language. The young girl Moana and her adventures in the sea becomes an interesting tale for the teachers to use for exposing the students of different levels to the target language (English) because of its universal appeal and intrigue. The movie’s intriguing and adventurous locale, use of characters known to the real world yet similar improbable reality; makes it such a strong learning aid to make the routine, dull language classroom interesting. The ELT teacher can definitely use it to make long lasting habits related to the language.

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