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Guide for using movie "The Terminal" for ELL Teacher Training Purposes

by Laura Dohner | 12 Dec 2019
Resource Description: This reading provides suggestions for using The Terminal, a romantic comedy movie starring Tom Hanks, as a means of demonstrating to ELL Teachers some of the challenges their ELL students face and L2 acquisition skills ELLs employ.
Audience: Teacher Training, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced
Duration: N/A
Materials and Technology: IMDb information for movie "The Terminal"

SWBAT identify strategies used by ELLs to decode L2:

  1. "trial and error"
  2. television images and closed captions
  3. visual/textual cues of store ads and signs
  4. parallel texts (tour books)
  5. observation of daily interactions between L1 speakers

Films can provide us, the viewing audience, an opportunity to see and to experience peoples and communities different from our own. The centralized plot of The Terminal takes place entirely in one airline terminal, but even within this limited confine is found a cohesive community of workers and airport personnel, not a few of whom are ELL immigrants to the United States. Viewing the interactions of these community members, we catch glimpses of their immigrant experiences. Seeing these glimpses allows us to see these characters—and ultimately all peoples surrounding us—in a new light.

Activity Description:

I believe this movie can be particularly useful as a means of demonstrating English-language acquisition skills to those who are teaching and/or working with ELLs.  While it may not be the best use of classroom time to show the movie in its entirely, clips from the movie could be shown and used as a point of departure for discussions about specific features of language learning. 

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TESOL Interest Section: Higher Education, Teacher Education, Video and Digital Media