[From Adult ESL Students]
December 5, 2010
Dr. Roberta Seret
Professional English Course
Dear Dr. Seret,
As the end of the Professional English Course for the UN is approaching, I would like to thank you so much for your very interesting lessons.
I would also like to stress that I particularly enjoyed your approach and the use of films for English as a Second Language.
I found learning through films most effective for the following three reasons.
- I really enjoyed viewing the films you choose for this course, because each of them focused on a different country and topic. It was interesting analyzing this films along with all the background information you provided for us
- about the countries themselves and about the making of the films, which in many aspects is often closely related to the historical and political situation many countries are facing.
- I found it challenging to talk about the films in class. It helped me to improve my vocabulary, while debating about issues which are of general interest and global importance, like poverty or the situation of women.
- My speaking skills also profited from this, because recalling the images and dialogs of the films and analyzing them is a good exercise for everyday life – it is much more immediate than for example talking about a written text.
- In our world today new medias and images play a growing role – and films certainly are an important part of our culture which should not be ignored, but a part of our learning process too.
Last but not least I really enjoyed the course, it was amusing and sometimes even shocking – but always interesting, and I learned very much.
My 5 year old daughter attends ESL classes at school. I have personally attended workshops at her school to understand as to how ESL learning and teaching is made an enjoyable experience for the children. Prof Roberta’s technique of making students learn English through the medium of cinema is very similar to the method used in my daughter’s school. Her teaching tools and approach is geared to make people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds understand the nuances of English language in a way that they overcome their inhibitions and contextual limitations of their cultural understanding in an effortless manner.
At school, the first thing the children do is to work with pictures and then go on to build basic vocabulary. In Prof Roberta’s class foreign films become the visual medium and the subtitles make for learning new words.
The varied visual context and appeal of cinema provide a large canvass of ideas, perceptions, situations and landscapes for students to absorb and understand facets of life, and through them build their language skills.
The subtitles help the students to link the activity in the film with appropriate language formulations. This thought provoking exercise compels them to pick up the language and its vocabulary along the way.
I had heard about Prof Roberta’s program from someone who had not undergone English medium education and found the program to be of immense benefit. I must truly admit that the main objective for me to join the class was not to learn English, which has been my medium of study since kindergarten, but my interest in Cinema. On the other hand, my colleagues joined the classes to learn English. Within weeks, they started to interact and become so much a part of our discussion in the class. The once feeble and almost inaudible voice soon transformed into confident, clear and loud expressions. It is amazing to see that in a short span of time the class group was able to learn English, be confident and hold their ground on any subject.
I am sure this innovative pedagogy of learning ESL through the magic of celluloid under the guidance and initiative of Prof Roberta will have greater success in future.