Looking for: good short films to stimulate discussion in adult ESL class
October 27, 2014 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I teach English in Spain and would like to incorporate some conversation stimulating short films in my adult classes.

Shorts must be:

- short (I prefer under 15 mins to leave plenty of discussion time)
- easy English or available with English subtitles
- stimulating enough to be a jumping off point to broader discussion

I am open to all formats, documentary, animated, whatever.
posted by maca to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I was teaching in Taiwan I was given a list of commercials on YouTube and told to use them in a lesson. It was a fun way to discuss issues like marketing, sales, globalization, and other pertinent themes with older kids and young adults. One could easily argue against using commercials, of course, but I found it interesting to dissect the images and messages. For example, we talked about the idea of selling the experience of happiness and fulfillment rather than the tangible product.
posted by maya at 1:07 PM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Who's on First by Abbott and Costello.

This short film is a true classic comedy skit of the English language. It will introduce them to basic concepts in the sport of baseball. AND, most importantly, it is a play on English words. To understand the joke, you need to know the difference in use between 'who' and 'what' - as in Who is on first base? and What is the name of the player on first base?

I used this classic film while teaching ESL many years ago, and it works great. It is funny, it involves a cultural aspect (a sport unknown to most Spaniards), and it involves complex use of basic English words.
posted by Flood at 1:10 PM on October 27, 2014

If you're interested in social justice type documentaries designed to promote conversation, you might want to check out Brave New Films. Might be a bit much to throw into the mix culturally, but I think it has some potential.
posted by meindee at 1:52 PM on October 27, 2014

There are always TED Talks- general interest with less tension than, say, the news. Transcriptions and translations are often available, too.
posted by JulesER at 2:23 PM on October 27, 2014

If you can Make it to Cordoba, I would suggest attending the Image Conference next month. And, if you can't participate there, just follow all of the presenters on Twitter. Many of them are active there. And, get connected or in discussion with them. Some knowledgable and helpful teachers there.

Neill Blomkamp's (sp?) Tempbot is fun for adults. It implies the existence of sex.

Bendito Machine has no English, but really stimulates discussion if it's at the appropriate level for the learners.
posted by Gotanda at 3:19 PM on October 27, 2014

Red Balloon?
posted by rhizome at 3:38 PM on October 27, 2014

What about the interview segments from the Daily Show or the Colbert Report? There usually streamable online and are good for colloquial language, current events and American culture.
posted by brookeb at 3:42 PM on October 27, 2014

Also the Op-Docs channel from the NYTimes should have fantastic material for you.
posted by brookeb at 3:46 PM on October 27, 2014

The National Film Board of Canada has a huge selection of shorts but the only one I can think of now if The Hockey Sweater which probably wouldn't work.
posted by hydrobatidae at 4:20 PM on October 27, 2014

I've been using Film English for some of my classes. Excellent selection, nice lesson plans.
posted by Theiform at 5:54 AM on October 28, 2014

If they have smartphones, can they make their own films?
posted by mdonley at 9:13 AM on October 28, 2014

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