The Effectiveness of Reading Stories Based on Movies

Japanese English language learners at my school are hooked on reading stories based on the Marvel movies. These are available in the newly published Marvel readers series. Introducing these stories based on movies ("movie stories") into your reading program will add variety to your classroom. A.S, a high school second-year student, states that the movie stories that she already knows are fun to read and boost her motivation to read English books.
Movies are a major source of entertainment. Each movie director has his or her way of expressing ideas through film. Whether you are an expert on movies or not, movie materials are beneficial to, and most of all, interesting to the learners. Let me introduce some of the ways I use them in teaching.

Learning English from movies

The four skills of English can be acquired through watching movies. Actors and actresses express their feelings through their facial expressions, and their actions together with the music convey the entire atmosphere of the movie to the audience. If you can enjoy the movie fully without the help of translation, that would be ideal. However, if you want to understand the English expressions, jokes, and cultural references, movie stories will help you clarify any vagueness in your understanding. A.S says that it takes her several days to read the book based on a movie, whereas she can watch the movie in a single day.

How students learn from movie stories

If you read the book before you watch the movie, you will have to use your imagination fully to understand the story. In order to understand the story, you need to understand the characters and their relationship, imagine the scenery and follow the chapters one by one. If you read the book after watching the movie, it can be fun to read the parts which you could not understand well enough, or the parts which you liked a lot. A.S says that as a movie fan, she wants to know everything about her favorite movies.

Using movie stories in your class

Here are the three steps to follow when you use stories in your class.

  1. Ask students if they have watched the movie.
  2. Tell students to take a close look at the illustration and read the caption.
  3. Check you are reading books in the best order.

If your students have not watched the movie, please have them check the relationships between the characters beforehand. In the Pearson English Readers Marvel series, you will find a “Who’s Who?” page.

Reading the captions of the illustrations will make it easier for students to imagine the story.

The order of reading sometimes matters. Choosing a book like Avengers (Level 2) for the first book will enable the students to get to know the characters. In Avengers you will meet the characters Captain America, Hulk, Thor etc. These characters appear in the second and third books, which is attractive for readers.

Movie stories will broaden your students’ world

Topics which students have an interest in are attractive to English readers who are in the extensive reading program. Even people with no confidence in English will enjoy the materials from the movies.

Pearson English Kids Readers offer books which elementary schoolers with a knowledge of phonics can read. Pocahontas (Level 6) tells you about native Americans of the colonial period. Give the background information of the movies accordingly.

Movie stories basically contain conversation. However, unlike in the movie, you will also encounter descriptions of scenery and gestures. This will be good practice for learners to learn about the way to describe a situation.

How to promote English Extensive Reading

Classifying books into categories will attract the interest of learners. We assign one category monthly to read. Here are some tips for categorizing the books:

  1. Heroes (e.g. Thor, Superman, Spiderman)
  2. Disney stories
  3. Adventure
  4. Authors
  5. Family
  6. Environment
  7. Reading the same titles from the different publishers.

Students can read at their own pace. They can read regularly every day, and increase the time that they are exposed to the English language. Through reading and watching movies, they will become acquainted with foreign cultures and will get to know the ways to communicate with people around the world.

Let us educate the students to be people who can be successful in this global world.

About the Author

Miyashita-senseiIzumi Miyashita works at Musashino University, Jissen Women's University and Den'en Chofu Futaba Senior High School. For more than 30 years she has been practicing the expansion of intellectual capacity through English education in order to nurture global human capital from elementary school to university level. Miyashita has published books such as the Eunice English Tutorial and co-authored titles such as Doraemon English Dictionary for Kids and How to Enjoy Learning English Using British Elementary School Materials. Her column "Omotenashi Kaiwajutsu" is frequently published in the Nikkei Shimbun.

Related Links

Marvel's Reader Series
Marvel Readers Campaign
New Pearson Readers