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Language Learning in Higher Education

Journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education (CercleS)

Editor-in-Chief: Szczuka-Dorna, Liliana / O’Rourke, Breffni

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

Patrizia Giampieri
Published Online: 2018-09-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2018-0022


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.

Keywords: viewing films for ESL purposes; videos in ESL classes; spoken language features; natural speech in films; grammar of spoken language


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About the article

Patrizia Giampieri

Patrizia Giampieri holds a Master of Science in Applied Linguistics (Aston University, Birmingham, UK). She is a lecturer of English at the University of Camerino (Italy). She has written and published articles on audiovisual translation. She is also the author of “La traduzione cinematografica: successi, strafalcioni e censura nel cinema doppiato” [Film translation: successes, blunders and censorship in dubbed films] (Le Penseur, 2018).

Published Online: 2018-09-20

Published in Print: 2018-09-25

Citation Information: Language Learning in Higher Education, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 399–425, ISSN (Online) 2191-6128, ISSN (Print) 2191-611X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2018-0022.

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