Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 20, 2018

Spoken language features (and anomalies) in films for ESL classes

Patrizia Giampieri


It is argued that learning a language through films is enjoyable, useful and motivating. At the same time, despite being scripted, film dialogues are claimed to mirror authentic conversational language. This paper is aimed at exploring whether films provide useful and interesting instances of spoken language. These can be used in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in order to foster second language (L2) learners’ communication skills. To this aim, a trial pedagogical intervention was carried out in which students were exposed to film excerpts and prompted to highlight spoken language features and anomalies. In order to foster learners’ noticing and comparing, the dubbed versions of the film excerpts were also addressed. The paper argues that the many instances of authentic colloquial language in film can be exploited in ESL classes. As far as the dubbed versions are concerned, this paper will demonstrate that not all dialogues are dubbed faithfully and many features of spoken language are unfortunately “lost in translation”. Nonetheless, exposing L2 learners to film sequences in both the original and dubbed versions can be useful in order to raise their awareness and foster noticing and comparing.




Participants: 4

1. On the basis of your previous language knowledge, was it possible for you to follow the lesson fully?
Comment from one student : I could follow the whole lesson, although I did not know a few words.
2. I think the lesson was… (write down a few adjectives)
(you can write more than one adjective)
constructive (remarks: because it helped notice and understand spoken language, which makes film dialogues so difficult to follow)2
different from standard lessons, hence not boring1
3. Do you think your interest for the English language has increased?
Mark from 1 (definitely not) to 5 (definitely yes)
Comments from two students: the lesson was interesting and motivating, but my overall interest for the language has not increased much because I am personally interested in other subjects.
4. Do you think you increased your knowledge of the English language?
5. Was the lesson too long in your opinion?
6. Were the subtitles useful?
Yes, very useful2
No, absolutely useless0
7. Were the transcripts useful?
Yes, very useful2
No, absolutely useless0


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Film List

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Published Online: 2018-09-20
Published in Print: 2018-09-25

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston