Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Monday, July 25, 2005

Self Study with Movies

by AJ

As Ive mentioned earlier, Im lazily trying to acquire a bit of Spanish. Ive been doing this, so far, simply by reading baby books and the lowest level graded readers (available from the TPR site... by Blaine Ray). This has been a very pleasant and indeed "effortless" approach.

Truth be told, Im not one of these gung ho people who can grind out studying for hours every day. I hate trying to memorize vocabulary and grammar is even worse. In the past I made attempts to "study" Spanish and I got bored and frustrated very quickly... my attempts never lasted longer than two weeks.

But Ive been doing light reading for about a month now... very leisurely... I just do it when I have a little spare time... and Im making much better progress. Because I dont do this a lot, my progress is slow. But it is pleasant and most importantly-- I am continuing with it. Learning a language is like running a marathon... its not a sprint.

After a month of light reading, however, I realize Id like to get some oral input. I suppose I could order a "language tape" and do endless drills (ugh). But instead Ive decided to use movies. Im going to start with "The Motorcycle Diaries". I just watched it (with English subtitles) and loved it.

My plan is to imitate the movie technique... watch the movie in short scenes and play each scene two or three times. Since I won't have a teacher to explain the dialogue to me (in simpler language)... I may resort to looking up key words in a dictionary as I pause the scene.

To be sure, this will be slow work. But Im not in a hurry. And it will be much more pleasant than repeating drills from a language tape. My guess is, in the longrun it will also prove to be much more effective.

This is a technique that all language students could use. Especially my Thammasat students. Im a super-low level Spanish learner (much much lower than my student's English level)... so if I can do it, so can you.

Some of you all want to improve your spoken English. Ill be honest- you wont get enough practice in class. You have to take control of your learning. You must create listening opportunities on your own.

Watching movies in English is a great method... especially if you:
a)turn off the Thai subtitles
b)dont use the English subtitles (they are often wrong)
c)play each scene two or three times
d)look up key words (after youve hear them a couple of times and still dont understand them). Dont do this for every word!!