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To DVD or not to DVD - Is that the Question?
by Deniz Dündar & Adam Simpson
- 4

5. The Curriculum - To DVD or not to DVD?

By way of conclusion, we will comment on the role of films in the modern language curriculum. While there are many noted pedagogical advantages to the use of films, there are also several considerations as to why they should not be included in a curriculum.

Firstly, as Canning-Wilson notes, there is little evidence as to the long-term benefits of film use as a language learning tool:

'It can be argued that video instruction should be discouraged because there is scant empirical proof to verify comprehension. For example, how can long-run effects of video be measured and how much exposure to video would make a significant difference in the language learning process?'

So, how can we prove that watching movies aids the language learning process? After all, King further suggests that time, feasibility and the perceptions of teachers are important considerations when thinking about using films:

'The use and feasibility of feature films in the classroom have inevitably evoked controversy among classroom teachers who have a curriculum to follow and limited time to allocate. Since some teachers still view movies as a medium of entertainment that has no place in a pedagogic setting, or, at most, as only outside classroom assignments or as a treat.'

Having worked in intensive preparatory school prgorams for numerous years, we can recognise some truth in this statement; some teachers don't view films as valuable tools. This obviously relates to the issue mentioned in section 1.1, exemplified by learners' initial jubilation at getting to watch a film. Watching movies is something that learners do in their freetime, when they are not studying. However, this in istelf shows the value of movies; going to the cinema/watching movies on TV are things that learners actually do.

A dichotomy therefore arises; watching movies is an activity that learners regularly engage in, yet incorporating movies into a curriculum may meet with resistance from teachers already overloaded with material. Furthermore, showing a small segment of a film will create the 'just for the language classroom' phenomenon noted in section 1.1. It will also destroy the meaning of the film. If the film is seen as a commmunicative vehicle, from which the learner is to derive meaning, then surely watching a film in its entirety is necessary. Nevertheless, doing so would be to risk sensory overload. So, we can see that the main issues when deciding whether to DVD or not DVD are related to time, finding appropriate films in terms of content and comprehensibility, and whether showing a segment or the whole film is most beneficial. Consequently, we have tried to eliminate all of these potential constraints by making movies available as extracurricular activities rather than as a set part of the curriculum.


Barne, S. (2002), Video Lessons, ESL LOUNGE
Burt, M., (1999), Using Videos with Adult English Language Learners, NATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE FOR ESL LITERACY EDUCATION
Canning-Wilson, C., (2000), Practical Aspects of Using Video in the Foreign Language Classroom, THE INTERNET TESL JOURNAL, Vol. VI, # 11, November 2000,

Chun, V., (1996) DVD: A new medium for language classrooms?, JAPAN ASSOCIATION FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING, Vol. 20, # 9, September 1996

Kikuchi, T,. (1997) Review of research on the education use of English captioned materials

King, J. (2002), Using DVD Feature Films in the EFL Classroom, ELT NEWSLETTER, Article #88, February, 2002
Kortner, A., (1999) Mass Media Use in the Classroom. NATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE FOR ESL LITERACY EDUCATION
Mejia, E., (2003), Video in Language Education: Making News Broadcasts Work for You
Peterson, E. & Coltrane, B., (2003), Culture in Second Language Teaching, CENTER FOR APPLIED LINGUISTICS WEBSITE,

Ryan, S., (1998), Using Films to Develop Learner Motivation, THE INTERNET TESL JOURNAL, Vol. IV, # 11, November, 1998
Stempleski & P. Arcario (Ed.) (2000) Video in second language teaching: Using, selecting, and producing video for the classroom, TESOL PUBLICATIONS
Yoder, C., (1988), Using Video in the Foreign Language Classroom, VCCA Journal, Vol. 3, # 1, Spring/Summer 1988, 40-42,

Some Useful Resources for Teaching with Movies

Below we have listed some of the websites where you can find materials or information relating to movies.

  • The Internet Movie Database - This is the ultimate database for movie lovers. Get plot summaries, reviews, quotes, and much much more for over 150,000 movies.
  • The Greatest Films - An award-winning, unique resource for classic film buffs and all who are interested in films - since mid-1996, with interpretive and descriptive, detailed synopses, review commentary, an unparalleled wealth of film reference material, and historical background for hundreds of classic English-language films in the last century.
  • Drew's Script-o-Rama - Whole movie scripts can be downloaded. Many films are available.
  • ESL Notes - This site provides exhaustive materials: Each individual movie guide is a detailed synopsis of a popular movie that consists of the following: a summary of the plot, a list of the major characters, an extensive glossary of vocabulary and various cultural references that even advanced ESL learners would often not understand and questions for ESL class discussion.
  • Jurassic Punk - This site offers lots of information about films, and a large number of high quality cinema movie trailers can be downloaded.
  • ESL Partyland: Teaching with Film and Video - Featuring both general teaching resources as well as fully-developed lessons on various films and videos.
  • Onestop English Magazine: Teaching English Using Video - Some practical ideas for incorporating films into the classrooom.
  • Simplyscripts - This site offers scripts of movies and a lot of information about them.

Below we have listed two books relating to teaching with movies.

  • 'Using Authentic Video in the Language Classroom' by Jane Sherman (CUP) ISBN 052179961 9
  • 'Film' by Susan Stempleski and Barry Tomalin (OUP) ISBN 0194372316


Deniz Dündar has been the head of the computer assisted language learning department of Bilgi University's English preparatory school for the past two years, and is interested in the use of modern technology in language learning and teaching. This is an area of interest shared by his former assistant in the CALL Center, Adam Simpson, who now works in the School of Languages at Sabanc? University, also in Istanbul.

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