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Can foreign language films and series help with language learning? 

The answer to this is a big YES! 

You might think that your child doesn’t need any more encouragement to watch even more films or series. It might be a bit of a surprise to know that watching films and series in the language they are learning can be really beneficial. A solid win-win situation for those who struggle with screen wars on a regular basis! 

Media such as films and series have been used for many years to accompany the teaching of foreign languages. Films and series are fantastic authentic resources to aid language learning. They won’t directly teach and explain the grammar aspects of a language, but they will introduce learners of the language to different cultural aspects of a country and new useful vocabulary which they may not come across in a language classroom setting. 

Although in this blog post I am promoting the use of films and series to aid language learning, it must first be said that one 90-minute Spanish film will not miraculously a fluent student make! As with every aspect of effective language learning, a little work and effort is, of course, needed. 

Here are a few tips and tricks that will help your son or daughter get the most from their time in front of a foreign language screen:  

 

Tip One: Encourage repeats

My first tip would be, especially for those who are at the beginning of their language journey, to watch a film that they have already watched in their native language, but now in the target language (i.e. French, German, Spanish etc). Many platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will allow you to change the language of the film into another. You might be thinking “Why should my child waste their time watching a film or series that they have already watched?”: Well, the answer is simply that they will already be familiar with the plot of the film, meaning the general understanding is already there and they will be able to focus more on the foreign language that is being spoken. 

 

Tip Two: Make it fun!

My second tip when watching a film or series in a foreign language is to make sure that the chosen film or series is engaging. I always recommend that students search for a genre in the foreign language film that they would normally watch with films in their native language, whether that be crime, romance or comedy. Further on in this blog I will give some recommendations of some foreign language films and series covering a range of genres. 

 

Tip Three: Read as well as listen

My third tip would be putting on subtitles in the target language whilst watching the film or series in the target language. There are many advantages of using subtitles in this way. Recognition of familiar vocabulary can aid understanding; reading new words as they hear the sounds can help a student’s pronunciation: all of which really develops listening skills.

 

Tip Four: Take note

My fourth and final tip would be encouraging your young language learner to write any new words or phrases that they have learnt from watching a foreign language film or series into a notebook. It is reported that every time we learn a new word in a language, we have to be exposed to it around ten times for it to form part of our own vocabulary. So, going through the process of actually writing a word out on paper and having a record of it to then come back to and re-read, really does help to make new words and phrases “stick”. 

 

What to watch?

As mentioned before, even if your child watches a film or series that they have already seen in their native language but this time in the language they are learning, this a great step in the right direction and valuable use of their time. However, if you feel like they don’t really need another excuse to watch Game of Thrones for the 100th time (even if it’s in Spanish or French), here are a few authentic films and series in French, German and Spanish you could tempt them with: 

 

French 

  • The African Doctor – Film – PG 
  • Family Business – Series – 15 

German 

  • Holiday Secrets – Series – 12 
  • Schubert in Love – Film – PG 

Spanish 

  • Siempre Bruja – Series – 12 
  • The invisible guest – Film – 12  

 

Sophie Lane is a Spanish teacher who has worked across key stages 2 to 5 at various primary and high schools in the North West of England. She tutors Spanish and writes content for The Language Locker

The Language Locker  Real-life, real-time help for learners of French, German & Spanish ; from KS3 to GCSE & A’Level.