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Modern languages - The long and the short of it

What it's all about

Foreign-language films and adverts can be excellent teaching resources - their characters and stories are great for engaging pupils' attention and making vocabulary memorable and learning is reinforced when pupils use the target language in role play and written work, writes Catherine Paver.

It is worth looking at films first. Pupils can then see how advertising uses the same techniques as film directors. They can also see how adverts reference particular genres to place the product in the viewer's imagination. Pupils could use this in their role plays: creating a cool French advert in the style of a film noir thriller, for example.

Trailers of classic foreign films are a great introduction to the films. They tell part of the story and often have key words flashed up on screen. If the class likes the story, why not show them the whole thing?

Jules et Jim is a good example and its central idea still sparks debate: can a woman love two men at the same time? La Grande Illusion is an absorbing and often witty tale of friendships in wartime.

Bilingual scenes in film and television drama are worth looking out for, too. The German general's speech in Band of Brothers is a moving example.

Advertising is full of useful contemporary language, from imperatives to superlatives, commands to colloquialisms. It has been said that an advert tells a story in 15 seconds. Perhaps you could give pupils a slogan and ask them to make up a story that supports it.

What else?

See Clairecopp's French introduction to film genres. bit.lyFrenchFilmGenres

Spanishgalaxia's advertising activity asks pupils to match Spanish slogans with famous products. bit.lySpanishSlogans.

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