[ Hauptseite | Roman | Film ]

During the last few years full-length feature films have become increasingly important as independent teaching subjects in the foreign language classroom. In the following article some parallels between textual analysis and film analysis will be developed. Hopefully this will encourage foreign language teachers to develop their own methodology of film use.

Teaching Written Fiction and Filmed Fiction in the Foreign Language Classroom: a Comparative Analysis

Willi Real

1. Introduction

It has long been recognized that texts and visual media in general are excellent means in teaching a foreign language and that full-length literary works as printed media and their film versions in particular are to be recommended for the advanced stage. The mental activities of reading written fiction and viewing filmed fiction are subject to the same logical principles. Since both of them tell stories, which are determined by time, place and causality,(1) they usher in philosophical processes which imply both bottom-up and top-down understanding. Like any hermeneutical activity, they imply a mutual process from particular details to general insights and vice versa, thus combining both deductive and inductive procedures in order to discover hidden relationships, to analyse the function of narrative devices in the context and to finally arrive at general insights.

Both by reading books and viewing films students can learn something about the world and themselves: textual competence as well as film literacy result from a process of interaction between the viewers/readers, their horizons of understanding, their personal experiences on the one hand and the works themselves on the other hand. The methodological problems which arise from the use of literary works as printed media and their film versions (as well as from the use of feature films) in Foreign Language Teaching (FLT) have not yet been systematically compared. This is what I will try to outline in the following contribution.

2. Verbal fiction as compared to films

Certain differences between books and films are obvious. First of all, films may be said to appeal to different senses, above all to viewing and listening. In addition to the scenery and the practical behaviour of the actors and actresses, there may be subtitles in L1 or L2. Thus films are complex media which may be understood on several levels: they may contain the use of motifs, symbols, music, background noise ... to produce certain effects and a certain atmosphere. Generally speaking, there is more explicitness in films than in literary texts, which are often decoded on different levels and thus represent multi-layered products. Although the Hollywood style has never favoured ambiguity,(2) the film has justly been called the universal modern medium.(3) The literary film motivates learners like few other kinds of material: the screen is able "to capture and maintain learner attention and interest."(4) In terms of total impact on the student, nothing surpasses a movie.(5)

Conversely books have always been and still are physical objects which may be handled by the individual reader both in class and at home. Literary works either appeal to the eye when the readers concentrate on the printed pages or to the ear when listeners prefer using an audio-book. The latter, of course, expresses an interpretation of the printed texts, yet it appeals to the imagination of the listener just as printed texts appeal to the imagination of the reader: both the reader and the listener are expected to imagine the characters, the events and the setting as well as to decode the message(s) of a writer, i.e. that mental activity starts from either the letters or the sounds of language, and that activity may be called a conceptual experience.(6) Moreover, the reader may determine his own speed: s/he may proceed in a very flexible way, for instance read at a low speed in the beginning, increase his/her speed after having become familiar with the context, read kernel passages twice, or even several times, etc.

By way of comparison one may say that, on the one hand, a film covers a wider range of direct sensory experience.(7) On the other hand, a film cannot equal the profusion of detail, depth and solidity of impression that a good novel offers:(8) a film suffers from time constraints and, as a consequence, from necessary reductions; a filmed novel, then, is an entity different from the novel on which it is based. In films there are often action-orientated, even spectacular beginnings and there may be additional scenes to provide smooth transitions. There may also occur changes in order since the viewers' comprehension is limited. Therefore a chronological presentation is easier to understand than reverted narration, which can be seen from two films as different as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (director: Volker Schlöndorff) and Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (director: Anthony Minghella). In addition, the audience is not confronted with an imaginative, conceptual task, but with a direct, perceptual experience,(9) with a visualisation, that is an interpretation of the filmmaker, who is sometimes considered as a new author rather than as a mere translator of a given work.(10) And it should be kept in mind that films, much more so than books, are highly commercialized products by a profit-seeking industry.

Still, this cannot mean that literary texts are superior to films - at least not as far as the teaching of a foreign language is concerned. For one thing, films, just like literary works, present language in meaningful contexts. However, films - in contrast to literary texts - present language in realistic contexts, in different regions or districts, in visible cultural situations, in different social classes, including such paraphernalia as posture, gesture, expression and behaviour and offering a real speech variety. As a consequence, films use a language of their own: in The Graduate for example, Benjamin's crucial confession that he had a love affair with Elaine's mother is visually presented rather than verbally expressed, for Mrs Robinson appears on the scene before Benjamin can finish his speech. Thus films show authentic language, i.e. the target language in action, and this is what constitutes most valuable input for the foreign language learner. As Hans-Peter Hasselbach and Horst Dickel point out:

Since movies bring authentic language to the EFL-classroom (linguistic aspect), lead to direct encounters with a foreign socio-cultural environment (contextual aspect) and offer good opportunities for learner-oriented ways of teaching (communicative aspect), this medium seems particularly useful for creative activities and appropriate assignments in the foreign language classroom.(11)

Generally speaking, for foreign language learners films are not easy to understand(12) since comprehension is very much a matter of speed. The viewer, above all, is exposed to the speed of the language participants, that is the film's actors and actresses even if the film is stopped in class whenever linguistic difficulties arise. Yet difficult though the comprehension of films may be, they are a good preparation for real speech situations in the country of the target language. In the beginning an understanding of the context and the events may be sufficient. For close attention, though, a second viewing of a specific scene may be advisable. It is also true that not all scenes are of the same difficulty, and not all of them are spoken at top speed.

3. Basic learning prerequisites

It is to no avail to start with full-length feature films right away. The teacher has to realize the danger of frustration because film viewing as a leisure-time activity and film study in foreign language classes are totally different things. The students will certainly have to acquire some experience in viewing films first: a progression for developing film literacy has to be organized step by step.(13) Perhaps, this process might start at Sekundarstufe I (S I) with different TV programmes such as watching the news, reports, interviews with native speakers to make the students familiar with an influential audiovisual medium. A different possibility is to choose selected scenes from different films(14) and discuss them like texts taken from an anthology. This step may be accompanied or followed by filmed versions of short stories which have been produced for foreign language instruction and which last no more than 45-60 minutes.(15) After using at least some of these possibilities it may be recommendable to use a feature film such as Erin Brockovich, which deals with the problem of environmental pollution and which is based on a true story.(16)

Once the advanced stage (Sekundarstufe II/S II) has been reached it is still advisable to proceed in small steps, i.e. to divide the film into different segments and/or to leave out some less important parts to deal with the problem of scope (cf. the use of abridged texts in class). In other words, when first dealing with full-length films, it is possible to apply the sandwich method, that is only major scenes are presented in class whereas those left out are summarized or read in a script. (17) This is particulary helpful if films are longer than a block period lasts (a so-called "Doppelstunde", that is 90 minutes). In addition, different kinds of pre-teaching,(18) e.g. the explanation of key vocabulary, the use of film protocols and film scripts, may be advisable in order to aid comprehension; perhaps the knowledge of the German version (if it is a cult film for example) may act as a reinforcement on the part of the learners. Thus rather than being unsurmountable obstacles authentic films provide reasonable challenges for the advanced foreign language learner.

4. Teaching objectives in film analysis and textual analysis

It may be concluded that film viewing may develop listening comprehension, the most basic of the four skills. When a film is given close textual attention, the three other skills may be developed as well: there is ample opportunity for oral and written activity and for exchanging personal impressions and evaluations. Therefore it should eventually be possible for the learners both to read unabridged novels and to view authentic feature films on their own - with all the advantages of extensive reading and of having many language contacts, namely recycling of recognition vocabulary, internalizing syntactical structures and deriving meaning from the context (inferential reading). Perhaps this even becomes a habit for some of the learners which will persist after their career at school.

But the teaching objectives cannot refer to language only. Critical analysis of ideology, propaganda and manipulation in film has to take place as well as an evaluation of a film's aesthetic features.(19) This is certainly true except for one caution. The students may well be able to analyse cinematographic devices, their functions and a film's potential for manipulation so that they become more knowledgeable viewers.(20) However, to expect them to evaluate a film's art and/or to find out about its artistic merit is, to my mind, too over-optimistic a teaching aim. In order to appreciate the aesthetic structures of films the students will need a large gamut of technical terms, which are indispensable for experts but irrelevant for everyday English. It is not advisable to develop highly technical film-related analytical abilities since the foreign language learners should be neither film experts nor professional film critics: film analysis should not become an academic discipline in FLT. Therefore it is not recommendable to introduce an elaborate film terminology for assessing the cinematographic value.(21)

Rather than that, films may be seen as a vehicle for discussion of norms, ideals and values - linked up to the students' knowledge and their experience of the world which will hopefully lead to rich personal investment.(22) It goes without saying that learners should become no more than critical film viewers and good speakers of the target language. This is in accordance with the communicative approach: there should be a lot of interaction among the teacher and the students, among the students themselves and with the film. Thus textual competence will eventually be supplemented by media literacy, and both of them will contribute to the command of the target language.

5. Practical possibilities of using films in class

In the following some methodological devices for the teaching of films will be developed. In the past films - in L1 as well as in L2 teaching - were usually shown after dealing with the literary text in class, often shortly before the holidays as a means of entertainment. This habit resulted from an epoch when films had to be borrowed from public institutions and to be mounted on projectors to be shown in class.
It is the video films that first opened up new possibilities from the late 1960s onwards.(23) With video cassettes it became possible to show films to the learners with the help of a recorder and a TV set. In addition, the teacher could stop and rewind the film in order to look at relevant scenes several times and to analyse the auditory and visual elements. And with the help of counters it was easily possible to locate specific scenes. Now the era of the DVD recorded films is upon us, which are not only determined by superior quality as to sound and reproduction, but which are even more flexible: DVDs, just like CDs, offer a table of contents (or a division into chapters), and it is possible to isolate any part of the film for classroom attention without any loss of time. And it also becomes possible to scan a film forwards and backwards, to produce any collage of scenes(24) in order to watch recurrent motifs or their variations in a sequence of shots possibly very much different from that of the film, a fact that may influence the thinking of the spectators.(25)

This has led to a more reasonable alternative, which meant to examine a few selected scenes from the film usually after dealing with the text as it is, for instance, practised in the teaching models on Charles Webb's The Graduate, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.(26) Generally speaking, a comparison with the literary text or possibly also with the film script provides a large potential for discussion in class. If the focus of attention is on books or texts, for lack of time the procedure as to films has to be selective. In both cases films are used as supplements for texts. This state of affairs has been overcome by now.

6. Using films as teaching subjects in their own right

At present one may observe a tendency to deal with books and films as separate media. Full-length films, then, are regarded as works of their own, i.e. they are taught without reference to their literary correspondents, which means that such films now have to be integrated into the general curriculum. Films, then, have now become teaching subjects which exist in their own right: instead of a combined approach an independent approach is used now. In other words, film analysis is regarded as an independent, stand-alone activity. Even so, many methodological devices for full-length literary texts can be applied to the audiovisual medium with only slight modifications.

As to practical classroom procedure concerning films, there are some frequently used devices which are specific to this visual medium only. To begin with, it is possible to use freeze frames ("Standbilder"), that is the presentation of the film is interrupted, and any scene may be discussed like a photo. In addition, it is possible to have the students listen to the sound while the screen is covered (sound minus vision) and ask them to say what they imagine the corresponding situations and events to be like.(27) This is a useful listening and speaking activity, which is similar to the use of a passage from an audio-book. Another option would be to have the students watch a scene while the sound is turned off (vision minus sound) so that the students may guess what the actors and actresses might say.(28)

Moreover, with DVD videos the teachers, as a rule, have the possibility of adding German and English subtitles to the film in order to facilitate comprehension.(29) This procedure is not unproblematic, though: it may be expected that, since there are too many auditory and visual stimuli, students will concentrate on the text only, that is that reading the English subtitles will replace the viewing of the film as a whole.(30) Besides, subtitles are usually divided into fragments so that fluent reading is impossible, and it may even be the case that they abbreviate the text of the dialogues. If the subtitles are in German, the effect for making progress in the foreign language will be next to nothing: it would be similar to using German translations or bilingual editions in the foreign-language classroom. It is a different task, of course, to perform a critical analysis of mistakes which are possibly to be found in them.

But there are also many similarities in teaching written fiction and filmed fiction. First of all, any comprehensive work has to be contextualised, that is the teacher has to create a curricular reference frame in which the book or the film is to be understood. To arrange new subject matter in systematic units will not only build up relevant expectations on the part of the students but also improve their understanding and enhance memorization. In doing so it is advisable to consider the historical and cultural backgrounds.

At present, one has to start from the assumption that the viewing of a film has to take place in the English lessons themselves since, as a rule, the teacher's copy is the only one available. If a ninety-minute lesson is at the teacher's disposal, it would be possible to show many films without interruption from beginning to end before their practical discussion. However, this is a theoretical option only since in most cases this procedure would be much too difficult for the learners. The consequence is that a full-length film has to be divided into several parts/segments.

However, it is advisable not to use fragmentation since this does not correspond to the students' habits of viewing films in their leisure time.(31) Moreover, a film presentation in several consecutive lessons would disrupt its continuity. Therefore rather long sections should be shown to the students,(32) from which smaller segments could be chosen for critical attention, which means it should be the teacher's aim to combine extensive/cursory viewing and intensive/close viewing, that is using extracts for in-depth study.(33) This is also a basic methodological demand in the teaching of longer texts: it is the only practicable way to realize the most important principle of teaching, namely to achieve as much variety as possible. Eventually, the film should be shown once in its entirety for the sheer enjoyment of it.

7. Major methodological devices in teaching verbal fiction and filmed fiction

In order to analyse a film or a full-length novel in class some didacticians differentiate between pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing tasks.(34) A different approach would be to distinguish between the following stages: (1) awareness or consciousness raising, (2) the reception of verbal/filmed fiction and testing comprehension, (3) analysis (assignment of tasks, collection and classification of evidence), (4) classroom discourse, i.e. formation and exchange of personal opinions/assessment/evaluation and, last but not least, (5) imaginative extensions/creative tasks, project work ... Referring to both media some major learning strategies will now be systematically catalogued.(35)

(1) In order to raise critical awareness the students often have to acquire some background information. As to the film Dead Poets Society for example, some knowledge about education in the United States is necessary for its understanding. In addition, some principles of poetry analysis have to be familiar to the students; Thaler uses a stop-over (a poetry workshop) in the second component of his teaching model to realize this.(36) In the case of Forrest Gump, some knowledge about the American Dream, but also about the Vietnam War, is indispensable in order to initiate intercultural learning.(37) Apart from such measures it might be helpful to have the students predict their expectations by an analysis of the title, the cover of a book, of a video, or a DVD. An alternative would be to discuss some quotations from the first chapter, the poster or the trailer of a film, etc. Very often brainstorming and free association activities are also helpful at this stage.

(2) On the one hand, the teacher may have the students pre-read a text or pre-view a film. On the other hand, s/he may deal with a film or with a literary text in successive steps. Whatever method s/he prefers, the comprehension of a longer text or a film (segment) should never be taken for granted. In order to check it s/he may use a fill-in exercise, true-false statements, scrambled sentences or scrambled stills. In a similar way, students may complete a defective text, locate quotations or match quotations and literary characters, to name but a few.

(3) As to film and text analysis closed and open questions (guided questions and subquestions for oral and written work) may be used. Worksheets or observation sheets may help to organize work. Quotations, proverbs, clichés, aphorisms, also photos, posters, etc. may be used as starting points. Results/keywords are to be written on the blackboard; transparencies, diagrams/grids may be used for visualisation, understanding and for memorization. Word portraits for characterization (a list of adjectives) or sociograms could serve to illustrate the constellation of characters. Different forms of social interaction could be practised, ranging from silent (individual) work and partner work to group/team activities including group puzzles.
Different students could play different roles in group work, which could range from chairperson and dictionary keeper to secretary and spokesman, in which turn taking could be practised. In doing so systematic units could function as learner-orientated tasks, e.g."Lernzirkel/Stationenlernen".(38) The teacher and/or the students could use key sections for teamwork or for research questions. The learners could conduct research in the school's library or on the internet for example by comparing different reviews of films and books: this may also pave the way for an analysis of a review as a written classwork ("Klausur").

(4) Text and film analysis may be followed or combined with an open-classroom discussion of problems which are relevant to the students' interests and experiences. The students could express personal likes and dislikes for the actors/the characters or/and for film/textual issues. A questionnaire may be used and be evaluated in order to pool opinions and experiences in a class profile(39) and to arrive at a consensus. Ranking tasks, possibly organizing formal debates requiring some degree of discipline may lead to lively discussions, deliberate evaluation, possibly votes for and against ...

(5) Imaginative extensions which concern the text/the film itself are very popular at present: they are equivalent to creative writing tasks. These may include revising and re-writing parts from a different perspective, producing follow-up texts, diary entries from a (major) character's point of view, or organizing a project, e.g. writing a film script for a particular scene, writing a voice-over comment for a scene, producing a storyboard on a transparency for the Overhead Projector ... This could imply rehearsing some scenes, audiotaping or videotaping them, then watching the performance in order to discuss and improve it. The course members could also prepare a panel conference, or a press conference in class, apply the hot-chair principle ...
Another kind of creative tasks comes up when films and books are regarded as public events. This could mean that the students write either a critical review or a letter to the editor or an e-mail, send it to the writer or to the film director.(40) The students could also publish their texts on the class's noticeboard or on the internet, interview native speakers, join online discussion groups, organize an online class partnership: such a procedure leads to many whole-language activities.

8. The present situation concerning academic and didactic resources

In order to discuss films in the foreign language classroom teachers may be encouraged to apply their literary training to them. As to narratives both in film and in fiction it is possible to analyse their constituent parts in class, such as perspective, plot, character, time, place, theme ... It is also possible to use more particular concepts for film analysis such as protagonist/antagonist, flat/round characters, narration/description, contrast/similarity, etc. In other words, "films ... tell stories. They have characters. They contain messages. They can be used in the classroom just like any other text."(41) Apart from that, the interested teacher may also consult a great number of recent studies which may be divided into four different groups.

Firstly, concerning film analysis as an academic discipline, publications are legion. To name but a few examples: Faulstich's monograph(42) may be regarded as a recent and very good introduction to the field. The same is true of Hickethier's older influential study, which reached a third edition in 2001.(43) Korte published another introductory work(44) with focuses of attention different from those of Faulstich and Hickethier. It consists of a theoretical part about systematic film analysis followed by a practical examination of four examples and a bibliography. As early as 1978, Kuchenbuch published a very ambitious and comprehensive study (45), which reached a completely revised second edition in 2005. By distinguishing between different film genres, by combining practical film analysis and film theory and by drawing on an impressive number of secondary sources the book certainly comes up to scholarly demands. However, its author, just like Faulstich, Hickethier and Korte, offers neither any didactic considerations nor methodological reflections for FLT.
Hildebrand's comprehensive work, however,(46) aims at less advanced, intermediate and advanced students and refers to L1 and L2 teaching. He offers a long "film catalogue" which describes the subject of influential films both German and American, lists their year of publication, the director, and the most famous actors in them. Therefore this is the only monograph with a didactic bias: it is meant for the (foreign) language teacher, and it may be helpful for establishing a sensible progression as to film analysis.

Secondly, there are some didactic studies, for example resource books for language teachers. To begin with, the one published by Gareis and others, may be quoted.(47) This refers to one film only, namely Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella and the corresponding film version Field of Dreams by Phil Alden Robinson. In the first part of the book, a lesson plan is developed which is repeated over and over again so that monotony is the unavoidable result. Besides this, one may mention Costanzo's study above quoted:(48) it contains many useful insights of a general nature. However, since it was written for native learners, its argumentation cannot easily be transferred to FLT. In addition, the so-called teacher's guide by Williamson/Vincent(49) starts from the assumption that a film may be discussed within a week, that is within four to five lessons. Since the authors use many labels, clichés and sweeping generalizations, their achievement may be described as superficial and disappointing. Finally, there is a publication by Hasselbach/Dickel which refers to ten well-known films and their use in FLT;(50) it is true that the authors do not develop comprehensive teaching units, but they offer sensible worksheets and suggestions for classroom procedure. As a consequence, this is a resource book comparatively helpful for foreign language teachers.
However, there are hardly any didactic resources for the scripts of the films themselves. So far only very few publishing houses have hit upon the idea to offer either film glossaries (annotations) and/or a critical commentary for authentic film comprehension (e.g. explanations of allusions, references, etc.). It must be concluded, then, that the offer of publishing houses as to film analysis for FLT is still insufficient.(51)

Thirdly, one may quote a number of articles which, directly and comprehensively, deal with the problems of film analysis in the teaching of English as a foreign language.(52) Fourthly and lastly, there is a small but ever increasing number of fully developed teaching models either for literary films or feature films. These two categories are being dealt with in another TELIC file (work in progress). (53) On the whole, then, for foreign language instruction only a mini-canon of full-length films exists for which some didactic resources are available. As a consequence, most of the work is left to the teachers. It is for them to solve many didactic and practical questions such as how to choose films, how to organize their reception in particular and how to plan classroom procedure in general. This, of course, implies a lot of risks but also great advantages: the teacher and the class have to analyse the film as to its subject and technique, to discuss significant or possibly burning issues and to find a suitable classroom approach. And it may be tempting for teachers to venture on new ground.

9. Future requirements

In doing so more progress may become reality. A sequence of lessons, whether devoted to verbal or to filmed fiction or to full-length feature films, has to cover a considerable period of time (perhaps four-five weeks if the unit also includes additional material). So far there seem to exist hazy concepts for comprehensive teaching units only, if any at all. It is high time to problematize their conception, that is, it has to be discussed how to conceptualize teaching units on full-length films. In doing so criteria which have turned out to be valid for teaching novels may be of benefit as well.

A major methodological problem implicit in the planning of every lesson is to find a shaping principle for the unit as a whole. In producing an interesting text any writer has to think about its composition and to bring about coherence in order to do justice to the etymological meaning of text as a "Gewebe". In the same way, the teacher has to plan interrelated issues, that is to join his/her lessons together in order to bring about continuity: s/he should reflect on the conceptual factors to maintain interest. Each film represents a coherent whole which captures no less than human life on celluloid, and its coherent patterns are larger than any separate scene. Therefore any teaching model about a chosen film should be carefully and systematically devised. This means that one viewing should eventually take place uninterruptedly in order to have the class come to a final assessment of it.(54)

Generally speaking, the teacher should think in long-term categories in order to maintain motivation and use long-term measures for more rewarding results, e.g. character files, flow charts, wall papers which are to be supplemented as long as the course lasts, minutes of the individual lessons to be collected in a folder, etc.: a comprehensive and exhaustive analysis of the text/film chosen will be a helpful preparation for written tests. One has to realise, too, that eventually there is a lot of pressure on the teacher and the students by centrally produced tasks for the Abitur.

In methodological respect, almost everything depends on how the problem of reception is solved. It goes without saying that it would be desirable for the students to possess an individual copy of their own; perhaps they may buy one at a reasonable price (DVDs of films are now little more expensive than books), or they will download it from the internet one day. As long as this is not the case, a copy of the film should be available in the school's media room/self-access centre, or the students should be able to borrow it from a public library or from a video rental store. This would open up new methodological possibilities in FLT. It would be possible to organize the process of reception in a different way, i.e. ask the students to pre-view it completely before the teaching unit itself is started in class. This may be done for the following reasons.

To begin with, in viewing a film in class, the attention of the students focuses on one point, namely the screen: this entails medium-centred rather than student-orientated learning. In that case, viewing a film is a collective and a shared activity. Some didacticians argue that a collective experience is superior since it makes possible spontaneous reactions and intense emotional responses.(55) In my opinion, this is somewhat doubtful since perceptible reactions of some people may influence those of others.(56)
Secondly, collective viewing is often guided, if not determined or manipulated by the teacher: in order to make it effective the teacher splits specific viewing tasks to prepare the subsequent analysis of the film. This procedure would imply certain disadvantages as far as the students' role is concerned. Since they do not know the film, they can neither influence the choice of textual focuses or emphases, nor can they make any active contribution to the content of the course plan, which means they cannot act as independent learners.
Thirdly, if pre-viewing becomes an out-of-class activity, however, the reception of the film is an individualized process as is normally the case with the reception of books. This means that the students may stop the film as often as they want to, that they may take notes after each single scene, consult the dictionary for key terms, etc., that is that many comprehension problems may be solved by the students themselves. To my mind, this approach would have all the advantages of pre-reading a full-length novel.

If a sufficient number of copies are available, it will be possible to select films like books and to have the students pre-view them in their entirety. Only then will it be possible to involve the whole personality of the students: their written contributions may range from the annotation of unknown vocabulary, through brief comments on difficult allusions (team work) and response journals containing their first impressions,(57) up to the students' preparation of separate scenes and to their presentation in class. Under such circumstances it will be possible to have film texts studied with the same deliberate concentration and thoroughness that scholars and students have given to literary texts.(58)

If these demands are fulfilled, first of all it would be possible to achieve a lot of variety. This would mean that specific moments of a film like any literary passage can be selected and be viewed repeatedly either at home or in class.(59) It would also be possible to use many different patterns of interaction and to have the students participate in the choice of which issues to make focuses of instruction. Then pre-viewing a film and note-taking could become a long-term homework assignment and, as a result, homework could be an integral part of the next lessons: the students could recognize examples of foreshadowings and meaningful relationships of items to each other and to the whole production right from the beginning. Under such circumstances it will also be possible to work with a homework restaurant, to use students' talks/reports in class, to practise the concept learning by teaching on a large scale and to prepare the learners for tertiary education. In other words, it would be much easier to organize and to realize learner autonomy.(60) It goes without saying that this concept also implies a change of the teacher's role: he becomes a counsellor or mediator, who is able to learn in his own lessons.

10. Notes

(1) Jakob Lothe, Narrative in Fiction and Film : an Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 8. [ Cf. also Kuchenbuch, p. 64.]

(2) Lucille Grindhammer, "Hollywood in the English Language Classroom: 'The Dead Poets Society'", in: Neusprachliche Mitteilungen aus Wissenschaft und Praxis 46 (1993), p. 246. Hollywood has been said to function according to "a commercial aesthetic, one that is essentially opportunist in its economic motivation"; cf. Richard Maltby/Ian Craven, Hollywood Cinema. An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), p. 7.

(3) Barry Baddock, "Using Cinema Films in Foreign Language Teaching", Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 36 (1989), p. 271.

(4) Lucille Grindhammer, "Filmed Versions of American Literary Works in Advanced English Language Courses", Anglistik und Englischunterricht 13 (1981), p. 96.

(5) Quoted in Lucille Grindhammer (1981), p. 96.

(6) Brian McFarlane, Novel to Film. An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 27.

(7) William V. Costanzo, Reading the Movies: Twelve Great Films on Video and How to Teach Them (Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 1992), p. 16.

(8) Barry Baddock (1989), p. 272.

(9) Brian McFarlane, p. 21.

(10) Cf. William V. Costanzo, p. 20; cf. also Grindhammer (1981), p. 99.

(11) Hans-Peter Hasselbach/Horst Dickel (Hrsg.), Screening American Dreams. Ten American Cult Films in the Foreign Language Classroom (Wiesbaden: Hessisches Landesinstitut für Pädagogik, 2003), p. 5.

(12) Günter Burger, "Die Arbeit mit einem Spielfilm im fortgeschrittenen Englischunterricht", in: Udo O. H. Jung (Hrsg.), Praktische Handreichung für Fremdsprachenlehrer (Frankfurt/Main: 1998, 3. Auflage, 2001), p. 202. Cf. also. Barry Baddock, Using Films in the English Class (Hemel Hempstead, 1996), p. 20.
I do not share Carola Surkamp's view that films are often easier to understand than texts; cf. her article: "Teaching Films. Von der Filmanalyse zu handlungs- und prozessorientierten Formen der filmischen Textarbeit", in: Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 38, Heft 68 (2004), p. 3.

(13) Cf. Jens Hildebrand, Film. Ratgeber für Lehrer. Köln, 2001; cf. also Carolyn Walker, Penguin Readers Teacher's Guide to Using Film and TV. Harlow, 1999. The author describes the use of film clips in class which have a maximum length of ten minutes.

(14) Cf. Quentin Brand, "'Play it again Sam'. An Interactive Approach to Using Films in the Foreign Language Classroom", in: Zielsprache Englisch 27:1 (1997), pp. 22-26; cf. also Ursula Ostkamp, "Rezeptionslenkung im Film - Wahrnehmung und Wirkung filmsprachlicher Mittel", in: Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 36, Heft 57/58 (2002), pp. 74-83.

(15) Cf. Lucille Grindhammer (1981), pp. 95-107; cf. also Rudolf Nissen, "'Short Cuts' (R. Carver: R. Altman) im Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe II", in: Günther Jarfe (Hrsg.), Literaturdidaktik - konkret. Theorie und Praxis des fremdsprachlichen Literaturunterrichts (Heidelberg, 1997), pp. 83-97 (= Anglistik & Englischunterricht, Bd. 61). Cf. Günter Burger, "Fiktionale Filme im fortgeschrittenen Englischunterricht", Die Neueren Sprachen 94:6 (1995), p. 595.

(16) Cf. the excellent article by Horst Mühlmann, "Selbstständiges Lernen am Beispiel einer Filmanalyse: 'Erin Brockovich' - a true story", Praxis Fremdsprachenunterricht 1:6 (2004), pp. 421-425; cf. also Peter Voller/Steven Widdows, "Feature Films as Text: A Framework for Classroom Use", in: ELT Journal 47:4 (1993), pp. 342-353; these authors present guidelines for film analysis with intermediate students.

(17) Hugo Stiller, "Texte und ihre Verfilmungen", Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 24, Heft 99 (1990), p. 6; cf. Günter Burger (1995), p. 596.

(18) This procedure is recommended even with shorter films: cf. Günter Burger (1995), p. 595.

(19) Cf. Gabriele Blell/Christiane Lütge, "Sehen, Hören, Verstehen und Handeln. Filme im Fremdsprachenunterricht", Praxis Fremdsprachenunterricht 1:6 (2004), p. 404.

(20) Cf. William V. Costanzo, p. 2.

(21) Cf. Günter Burger (1995), pp. 597-598.

(22) Cf. also Joanne Collie/Stephen Slater, Literature in the Language Classroom (Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 3-10: in their classic study the authors warn teachers against using literature for academic purposes: they neither plead for an introduction to literary scholarship in FLT nor do they want teachers to focus on literature as a work of art. Rather than that they want teachers to focus on the individuals' responses in order to use literary texts as a resource for discussion. Therefore it may at least be expected from Blell/Lütge to clarify their concept of art in the context of FLT.

(23) Cf. Barry Baddock (1989), pp. 270-271.

(24) Cf. Kimiko Leibnitz, "DVD - die Möglichkeiten eines neuen Mediums", in: Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 35, Heft 50 (2001), pp. 62-63. Cf. also Engelbert Thaler, "DVD im Englischunterricht", in: Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 35, Heft 53 (2001), pp. 40-41.

(25) Cf. William F. Costanzo, pp. 63-64.

(26) Louise Nübold, Charles Webb, 'The Graduate'. EinFach Englisch: Unterrichtsmodell (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2000), pp. 43-52; Angela Luz/Brigitte Prischtt, Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World'. EinFach Englisch: Unterrichtsmodell (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2005), pp. 65-67 and pp. 78-79; Christoph M. Peters, Margaret Atwood, 'The Handmaid's Tale.' Eine Unterrichtseinheit für die Oberstufe. Unterrichtskonzepte Englisch Literatur (Freising: Stark Verlag, 2003) pp. 50-55.

(27) Elisabeth Gareis/Martine S. Allard/Susan Gill/Jacqueline J. Saindon, A Novel Approach: Field of Dreams. A Teacher Resource Book (Ann Arbor, 2000), p. 176; cf. William F. Costanzo, p. 78.

(28) Elisabeth Gareis et al., p. 176; cf. William F. Costanzo, p. 78; cf. also Barry Baddock (1996), p. 25 and p. 60.

(29) Engelbert Thaler, 'Dead Poets Society'. Unterrichtsmodell. EinFach Englisch (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2003), p. 11.

(30) Chris Doye, "Films for Self-Study", Modern English Teacher 7:4 (1998), p. 62.

(31) Cf. Engelbert Thaler (2003), p. 20.

(32) Cf. William F. Costanzo, p. 77; this procedure has been called "Blockverfahren" by Günter Burger (1995), p. 595 and (2001), p. 203.

(33) Cf. Barry Baddock (1989), p. 271.

(34) Cf. for example Gunthild Porteous Schwier/Ingrid Ross, "'Life is but a dream'? Der Film 'Forrest Gump' im Englischunterricht der Jahrgangsstufe 11", in: Neusprachliche Mitteilungen aus Wissenschaft und Praxis 53:1 (2000), pp. 29-38; cf. also Elisabeth Gareis et al., p. vii.

(35) There is a similar categorization used by Günter Burger (1995), pp. 595-601; cf. also Willi Real, Teaching English Novels in the Foreign Language Classroom.

(36) Engelbert Thaler, (2003), pp. 30-37.

(37) Cf. Kornelius Nelles/Karsten Witsch, 'Forrest Gump'. Film Analysis. Unterrichtsmodell. EinFach Englisch (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2002), pp. 26-27.

(38) Cf. Silke Hagemann, "Stationenlernen zum Film 'Forrest Gump'", in: Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht - Englisch 36, Heft 57/58 (2002), pp. 42-47. As to an explanation of the concept in general, cf. Petra Günther, "Lernen an Stationen. Eine Unterrichtsmethode, die das selbstbestimmte Lernen fördert", Praxis Fremdsprachenunterricht 1:3 (2004), pp. 184-187.

(39) Cf. William F. Costanzo, p. 78.

(40) Even if such a task is attractive, the letter to film director Volker Schlöndorff in Peters's teaching model on The Handmaid's Tale may be quoted as a negative example. After viewing a few scenes only the students utter a general verdict on the complete film rather than ask the director for an explanation of his standpoint; cf. Christoph M. Peters, p. 55.

(41) Cf. Peter Voller/Steven Widdows, p. 343.

(42) Werner Faulstich, Grundkurs Filmanalyse. München: Fink, 2002.

(43) Knut Hickethier, Film- und Fernsehanalyse. Stuttgart, 1993, 3. Aufl. 2001.

(44) Helmut Korte, Einführung in die systematische Filmanalyse. Berlin: Erich Schmidt, 2000, 2. Auflage, 2001.

(45) Thomas Kuchenbuch, Filmanalyse. Theorien. Methoden. Kritik. Wien, Köln, Weimar: Böhlau, 2. Auflage, 2005. [UTB 2648]

(46) Jens Hildebrand, Film. Ratgeber für Lehrer. Köln, 2001.

(47) The bibliographical data may be found in note 27.

(48) The book is fully quoted in note 7.

(49) Julia A. Williamson/Jill C. Vincent, Film Is Content. A Study Guide for the Advanced ESL Classroom. Ann Arbor 1996.

(50) The bibliographical data can be found in note 11. This volume includes a discussion of the following films: "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940), "High Noon" (1952), "Harold and Maude" (1971), "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and "Forrest Gump" (1994).

(51) Werner Schneider, "Filmisches Erzählen. Analyse, Deutung, Evaluation", in: Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 49 (2002), p. 368. The Klett publishing house offers an annotated film script of the Truman Show: Andrew Niccol, 'The Truman Show'. An Original Screenplay (Lernmaterialien). Stuttgart: Klett, 2000. An annotated edition of the film script of My Beautiful Laundrette has been published by Langescheidt: Michael Mitchell, Hanif Kureishi (eds.), My Beautiful Laundrette. München: 2005. [Viewfinder]

(52) My analysis will refer to articles in which didactic reflections as well as methodological suggestions are discussed.

(53) Cf. Willi Real, Resources for film teaching in the advanced foreign language classes: a didactic survey. For a more detailed bibliography concerning films in FLT (ranging from 1970-2007) cf. Günter Burger's website which now has the following new address: http://www.fremdsprache-und-spielfilm.de/.

(54) Cf. Günter Burger, (3. Auflage, 2001), p. 206.

(55) Carola Surkamp, p. 3.

(56) Cf. also Werner Faulstich, p. 59.

(57) William R. Holden, "Making the Most of Movies: Keeping Film Response Journals", Modern English Teacher 9:2 (2000), pp. 40-46.

(58) Cf. William F. Costanzo, p. 80.

(59) Cf. William F. Costanzo, p. 80.

(60) Lienhard Legenhausen, "Wege zur Lernerautonomie", in: Johannes-P. Timm (Hrsg.), Englisch lernen und lehren. Didaktik des Englischunterrichts (Berlin, Cornelsen, 1998), pp. 78-85. - Finally I would like to express my gratitude to my dear friend Graham Wilson, on whose time and energy I could once again draw in order to avoid too many mistakes in my use of English as a foreign language.

[ Hauptseite | Roman | Film ]

Last Updated by Dr. Willi Real on Monday, 23 July, 2007 at 10:35 AM.