Learner Training: 5 ways films can improve your English
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich talk about the language of films. They discuss two films about football that they really like and introduce lots of vocabulary about movies. They also share five tips that will help you use films to improve your English. The language focus is on passives and film genres.
This podcast is also part of our activity week which starts on March 12th. This is lesson two. If you want to find the other lessons or sign up for the free activity week, go to activity week - films and football.
Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we also have a new football phrase for you to guess. Enjoy!
Learner training: How to use films to improve your English
Rich: Hey Jack, fancy bumping into you here! What are you up to?
Jack: Probably the same as you - going to the cinema.
Rich: Yes, of course. Well, there’s no football on tonight!
Jack: We just thought we’d turn up and see what’s on. Have you had a look? Anything good on? We could all go together and then get something to eat after?
Rich: That sounds like a plan. I’m looking at the listings now.
Jack: The Black Panther that looks good. I love action movies.
Rich: Superheroes aren’t really my thing.
Jack: What about this one … Hey Jude?
Rich: It’s a musical drama and it’s in Malayalam.
Jack: Oh! I thought it would be about the Beatles or maybe Olivier Giroud! Maybe it’s got subtitles?
Rich: We were thinking about The Shape of Water. It’s just won Best Film and Best Director at the Oscars.
Jack: It’s sci-fi, isn’t it? I’m not into sci-fi that much.
Rich: I think it’s more of a fantasy drama.
Jack: I think we’ll stick with the Black Panther. I tell you what, let’s meet up after, when the films have finished.
Welcome - Films
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we are going to talk about the language of films and talk about how films can help you with your English.
Jack: This podcast is also part of our next Premier Skills English Live Activity Week on the Premier Skills English website where you will see lots of extra pages and activities related to the language of films.
Rich: The activity week starts on Monday the 12th of March so come back to the Premier Skills English website and we will have lots of extra things to help you with your English grammar, vocabulary, listening and reading skills.
Jack: You can register for this activity week and our past activity weeks on the Premier Skills English website now. It’s free, it will help you with your English and if you complete it, you can download a certificate. Click the tab on the menu that says live!
Rich: Finally, don’t forget to listen to the end of this podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Jack: To start this podcast Rich and I are both going to talk about a film we like.
Rich: When we finish we are going to look at some of the language we used in more detail and then we’re going to talk about how watching films can help you with your English.
Jack: So, Rich, you can go first. Tell us about a film that you have enjoyed. While you are listening we want you to answer two questions: One: What is the name of the film? Two: What type of film is it?
Rich: The film I’m going to talk about is quite old now. It was made in 2002 and is called Bend it Like Beckham. It’s a comedy or maybe a romantic-comedy that is all about a teenager who wants to be a professional footballer. The problem? though is that she is Indian and a young woman which means she needs to fight lots of racism and sexism to get where she wants to go. As I said, it’s a romantic-comedy so these problems are never dealt with in lots of detail, but it is interesting to see how discrimination happens and how it’s still relevant today. The film is called Bend it like Beckham, but it really means bending the rules and yes, David Beckham is in the film but only right at the end. Actually, the film is more famous because it starred Keira Knightley who has become really famous in films like the Pirates of the Caribbean and more recently Atonement and the Imitation Game. The film was really funny, but I think it also told an important story and that’s why I like it.
Jack: I honestly haven’t seen it. I probably should but I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies or Manchester Utd!
Rich: OK, Jack, now it’s your turn. Tell us about a film that you have enjoyed. While you are listening we want you to answer three questions: One: What is the name of the film? Two: What type of film is it?
Jack: The film I’m going to talk about is also quite old. It’s called Fever Pitch and was originally a book that was written by Nick Hornby who often writes about sport and music and lots of his books have been turned into screenplays. Fever Pitch is a drama that is all about being an Arsenal fan. The book is about one fan’s relationship with football, but the film is about one season - 1989/90, when Arsenal beat Liverpool to the League title, in one of the most exciting title races ever. The plot follows Paul, played by Colin Firth, throughout the season. It has really funny parts but also has lots of drama and romance. If you are a football fan, this film is a must-see.
Rich: I agree it’s a really good film, but, as a Liverpool fan, I didn’t like the ending!
Language Focus 1 (film genres)
Jack: In the roleplays, one of your questions was to say what type of film we were describing. You probably heard both of us using the word romantic-comedy to describe the film.
Rich: Romantic-comedy is just one type or genre of film. You probably know a lot more. We are now going to test your knowledge of film genres.
Jack: Rich doesn’t know very much about films, so I am going to challenge him. I’m going to give Rich a definition (just music?) of a film genre and he has to say what genre or type of film it is. Your job is to try to answer before Rich does. Ready Rich?
Rich: I’m ready!
Jack: Number one: These films are usually set in the desert in the USA and have cowboys in them.
Rich: Oh yes, er … cowboy films … they’re not called cowboy films are they … er .. westerns … they are westerns.
Jack: You got it in the end. Right, number two: These films are often set in the dark because they don’t have a big budget for special effects. They try to get you hiding behind the sofa or try to make you jump.
Rich: Ah yes … scary movies. I never watched scary movie. I think that was a comedy, wasn’t it … er … scary movies are called horror films!
Jack: Very good, now the last one. Number three: These films are usually about crime or maybe spying and are dramatic.
Rich: A drama?
Rich: Not a drama … er .. spy films like James Bond … that’s an action movie
Jack: Not really like James Bond … more serious
Rich: I’m not sure.
Jack: OK, another clue ... What’s Michael Jackson’s most famous song?
Rich: Thriller. Ah! Thrillers! These films are called thrillers.
Jack: Very good. Did you our listeners get those answers quicker than RIch?
Rich: They probably did. Anyway, below this podcast, we have an activity that helps you with more film language.
Jack: And, if you sign up for our activity week: Learning English: Films and Football and you will learn lots more.
Language Focus 2 (passives)
Rich: When we were talking about films that we liked earlier you might have heard me say: Bend it Like Beckham was made in 2002 and you might have heard Jack say Fever Pitch was written by Nick Hornby.
Jack: When we speak about films we often use the passive. We use the passive because we’re talking about the film - the film is the subject. We aren’t interested in who did the action, or we don’t know, or it is obvious.
Rich: For example, I said Bend it Like Beckham was made in 2002. It wasn’t important to speak about who made the film.
Jack: When I was talking about my film I said Fever Pitch was written by Nick Hornby. Here I used the passive because I wanted to make the film - Fever Pitch the subject of the sentence because I thought it was more important.
Rich: But Jack still included the person who did the action by using the preposition ‘by’. He said Fever Pitch was written by Nick Hornby.
Jack: We create the passive by using the verb to be + the 3rd form of the verb. You can use the passive in the present, past or future or in the continuous form.
Rich: We use the passive to talk about football a lot too. Let’s look at an example.
Jack: Liverpool were given a penalty.
Rich: Here we are more interested in Liverpool getting a penalty. We’re not that interested in who gave the penalty. And anyway, we know who gave the penalty - it was the referee - we know it, it’s obvious. It would be strange to say ‘the referee gave Liverpool a penalty’ if you were telling someone about what happened in a match.
Jack: We’ve got more information about the passive below and in our Activity Week: Learning English - Football and Films. If you haven’t signed up, you can do that now on the Premier Skills English homepage.
5 ways film can improve your English
Rich: Films can really help you improve your English, but we think that to get the most out of watching films in English you have to be an active listener.
Jack: That’s right. You can’t just sit in the front of the screen with a big tub of popcorn and hope that your English will get better.
Rich: But, it’s good to do that sometimes!
Jack: Of course! I do it most Friday nights! Films can be really motivating - if you enjoy something you will learn. But, we want to help you with your English and we have five tips that we think will help you get more out of watching a film in English.
Rich: Let’s go!
Jack: Tip number one: Take control when you watch.
Rich: When you are watching at home there are so many things you can do. You can turn subtitles on and off. You can watch and rewatch and you can often even change the speed of the film.
Jack: Students always ask me about subtitles. Watching a film with subtitles will focus you on reading skills and vocabulary while having no subtitles will test your listening skills.
Rich: And if watching without subtitles is difficult that is when you can take control even more. Listen again or if you’re watching online like on youtube, you can slow down the speed and then afterwards you can put the subtitles on if you want to.
Jack: Tip number two: Search for the script
Rich: It’s easy to find scripts online. IMSDB.com is a good website to find scripts. You can then print off sections of a script. Maybe your favourite scenes in a film and practise them.
Jack: You could try to learn one of the parts of a film or read it back when you are watching the film. That could be good fun!
Rich: The script always gives you more information than subtitles, too!
Jack: Tip number three: Keep a film diary.
Rich: When you watch a film you could have a diary or notebook next to you. While you are watching you could write down interesting phrases and vocabulary.
Jack: And when the film has finished you could write your review of the film in your diary. You could even post your review online and see what other people think and join a discussion.
Rich: I think that’s a great idea. Right, tip number four: Check out websites about film.
Jack: There are lots and lots of websites about film. There is even one that is specifically for English learners. It’s called Film English and is a site that you should tell your English teacher about.
Rich: But other sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB can also help you learn more about film.
Jack: That brings us to tip number five: Become a film buff
Rich: If you love movies you can learn so much about them online. When you are looking at the websites we just told you about you can find out about the types of films you like, the actors and directors you like and so much about the language of film.
Jack: And talk about films with friends in English. You often watch films with friends and family. If you watch a film in English, why not speak about it in English when it’s finished?
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was last-gasp equaliser. This phrase means a goal that is scored in the very final moment to make the scores level.
Rich: It was a difficult one but some of you got it right. Well done to Liubomyr from Ukraine, Lakerwang from China, Zanko from Egypt, and Ahmed Adam from Sudan. What’s this week’s football phrase?
Jack: This week’s football phrase is * ******* ******. It is a phrase that is used to describe a team that has won lots of games in a row or consecutively. You might say for example Liverpool are on a six-match ******* ****** which means they have won six matches in a row. You can also say the same when a team loses lots of matches in a row. You could say West Brom are on a bit of * ****** ****** at the moment.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Jack: Don’t forget to sign up for our Premier Skills English Live Lessons on the Premier Skills English homepage. Just hit the live tab.
Rich: If you have enjoyed this podcast or found it useful, leave us a rating or review and that will help other people find us. Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
I think we’ll stick with the Black Panther.
It’s sci-fi, isn’t it? I’m not into sci-fi that much.
There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words.
In this week's podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about the types of films or genres of films they like. Take a look at these example sentences from the podcast:
A: It’s sci-fi, isn’t it? I’m not into sci-fi that much.
B: I think it's more of a fantasy drama.
It's a comedy or maybe a romantic-comedy all about a teenager who wants to be a professional footballer.
Do you know what the types of films are in bold? What's your favourite film genre?
In the podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about the passive. We often use the passive when speaking about films. The structure of the passive is the verb to be + the past participle. You can use the passive in all tenses; you just need to change the verb to be. Here is an example from the podcast:
Bend it Like Beckham was made in 2002.
It's important to know when to use the passive and not to use it too much. One important thing is to think about is the person or thing that does the action in the sentence. We can call this person or thing the actor in the sentence. A passive sentence doesn't include the actor unless it's at the end of a sentence; often after the preposition by. Let's look at an example:
Nick Hornby wrote Fever Pitch.
Fever Pitch was written by Nick Hornby.
In this example, we can see that the actor is Nick Hornby. In the first sentence, the actor is also the subject of the verb. The sentence is active. In the second sentence, the actor is at the end of the sentence and the subject of the sentence is Fever Pitch, here the sentence is passive. We use the passive because the actor (Nick Hornby) is less important than the subject (Fever Pitch).
There are many other reasons to use the passive and if you have signed up for our Activity Week: Learning English - Football & Film, there is a specific lesson all about using the passive when talking about films.
5 ways film can improve your English
In this week's podcast, Rich and Jack spoke about films and how film can help you when learning English. Think about the advice they gave you and what you do when you watch films in English. Do you use subtitles? Do you want to understand everything that the actors say? How do you do this? Look at the five ways watching films can improve your English. Do you think watching films can help your English?
- Take control when you watch. You can watch and rewatch, you can sometimes slow down the speed of the film and you can turn subtitles on and off.
- Search for the script. You can find film scripts online and print them out. Use them to practise your favourite scenes in films or to play the role of your favourite actors.
- Keep a film diary. Use a notebook to write down new words and phrases while you are watching and write a review of the film when it has finished.
- Film websites. Search for websites that are all about films. These websites can be specifically for English learners or for general use.
- Become a film buff. Learn more about movies and become an expert. Learn about your favourite types of film, your favourite actors, photography and special effects.
Did you find these tips useful? Can you think of any other ways that films can help your language skills? When and where do you watch films in English?
Write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Every week in the podcast, we have a new football phrase for you to guess. Last week's football phrase was last-gasp equaliser. This phrase means:
A goal that is scored in the very final moment of a match to make the scores level.
Many of our listeners made a guess and well done to those of you who got it right! Congratulations to the following listeners:
- Liubomyr from Ukraine
- Lakerwang from China
- Ahmed Adam from Sudan
- Zanko from Egypt
Try to guess this week's football phrase and we will mention you on this page next week! You can find the football phrase near the end of the podcast.
What do you think?
In this week’s podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about films and gave you some advice about how to use film to improve your English.
What was the last film you saw? Was it good?
Is the cinema popular in your country? How often do you go to the cinema?
Can you think of a connection between football and film?
Remember to write your guess for this week's football phrase, too!