Celebrate Foreign Languages Through Film During NFLW
Have you ever thought about learning foreign languages through film? This can be a little confusing at first, but very entertaining and fun once you get the hang of it. When we start to learn a new language and visit a foreign country, it’s challenging to apply our knowledge and speak because we usually don’t know the regional expressions, slang, jokes, etc. This is where movies step in and do the amazing job of showing us some of the details related to culture and dialect. Today, during the National Foreign Languages Week, we will look at a list of some of the best movies in other languages as well as language-focused activities that teachers can do with their students. ¡Miremos películas!
But First, Know Its Rating!
While movies of foreign languages with a great plot are amazing to watch, we must be highly selective when choosing for a middle or high school audience. It is important to know how movies are rated in order to pick one that’s appropriate for this age group (and avoid awkward moments!). According to the Motion Picture Association of America, movies ratings are as follows:
- G: General Audiences. It is designed for all audiences.
- PG: Parental Guidance Suggested. Parents are encouraged to give parental guidance. These movies may contain some material parents might not like for their children to watch.
- PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may not be appropriate for children under age 13 (violence, nudity, sensuality, language, etc.)
- R: Restricted. This rating is for films specifically designed for adults, which means they’re not appropriate for children under 17.
- NC-17: Clearly Adult. Most parents will consider these films inappropriate for children under 17. It indicates adult content is more intense than in an R rated movie.
Movies With Foreign Languages Rated PG13 or Under
Here are the best films of foreign languages that are appropriate for audiences ages 18 years or younger. Enjoy a quick synopsis of what you should expect from each film, and get ready to plan your classroom activities around the ones you choose!
La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful)
During the Holocaust (1939–1945) an Italian Jewish man builds an elaborate fantasy to protect his son in a Nazi concentration camp.
Salvatore, a 6-year-old boy, and his sister live with their mother, who’s seen her husband leave for war. Despite this, she never loses hope of his return. The young boy develops curiosity for film and spends every free time at the movie house Cinema Paradiso, while he becomes friends with the projectionist, Alfredo, who often lets him watch movies from the projection booth. Salvatore gets fascinated by all the secrets hidden in the cinema and will look for all possibilities to convince Alfredo to show him everything that happens in his work.
Belle et Sébastien
Sebastian is a lonely boy who lives in a small town in the Alps and finds a wild dog, whom he tames and calls Belle. The peaceful life of the village is interrupted by the arrival of the Germans during World War II. That’s when Sebastian leaves with Belle in search of his mother.
Le Petit Nicolas
Nicolas leads a normal and calm life. His parents love him and he has friends with whom he has a lot of fun. He doesn’t want things to change, but one day, Nicolas listens to a conversation between his parents and realizes his entire life is about to change: his mom is pregnant and a little brother will arrive soon.
Spanish (from Mexico)
Nosotros los nobles
After their father’s decision, three spoiled siblings cannot access the family fortune and are forced to look for a job and move to a hidden house in a small village.
No se aceptan devoluciones
Valentín is the Acapulco’s most womanizing single man. One day, a woman from his past leaves a baby at his door and disappears. Valentín decides to go to Los Angeles to look for her, but instead of finding the mother, he discovers a home for him and his new daughter Maggie.
Spanish (from Spain)
Rated: for people older than 16
A group of patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder coincide in the waiting room of a great psychologist’s office. The doctor is delayed by a problem with his plane, so everyone will have to wait together trying to keep their impulses, obsessions, and rituals apart. The adaption of the famous play by the French comedian Laurent Baffie.
Vivir dos veces
Emilio, his daughter Julia, and his granddaughter Blanca embark on a crazy and revealing journey. Before Emilio’s memory finally fails, the family will help him find the love of his youth. Decisions and setbacks will lead them to face the deceptions on which they have mounted their lives.
The Book Thief
In the Nazi-era Germany, the Angel of Death tells the story of an adopted girl who learns to read thanks to her father. She becomes friends with a young Jew, whose parents are hiding.
Billi is a woman of Chinese-American nationality, who returns to her home country when she finds out that her grandmother is suffering from terminal cancer. Things do not improve when she realizes that her family has hidden the disease from the old woman, scheduling a false wedding to meet before she dies.
The Value of Movies
These are some movies that teachers can watch with their students during school. They teach the values of family, love, adaptability, friendship, gratefulness, honesty, among others.
It is fun to watch a movie, but it is so much better when you can take out the best of it after watching it. In this case, learning a new language is the goal! So, here are some games and ideas to promote foreign language learning after watching a film:
Vocabulary meaning match: give students a worksheet with a list of vocabulary words in one column, and scrambled definitions in the other. As students watch the movie, they have to match the vocabulary to the adjacent list of meanings.
Buzz game: put the students into teams and ask different questions regarding the movie. When a student sees the answer, they “buzz” by making a pre-decided comical noise, and answer in the foreign language. If the student is correct, the team gains a point and then the game continues.
Funny words: give the students a blank sheet of paper and ask them to write down the words they find funny during the film. After the movie ends, they have to compare the words with their classmates and try to find the meaning of the ones they have in common.
Balloons: give a balloon to each student. Tell them to inflate it and then write a word on it that they find difficult in the language they’re learning. Then, all the students have to make a circle and throw all the balloons inside it. Each student has to take a balloon (not theirs, of course), read the word out loud, and try to guess the meaning (if they don’t know the word, they can ask for help).
Flashcards: after watching the movie, they have to draw in a blank sheet of paper an element of the film that got their attention. Then, each one of them has to show the drawing to the class while the other students guess what it is in the language they’re learning.
Discussion: the students have to identify the values they found in the movie and then discuss them in a circle. They have to try to use as many words as possible in the language they’re learning (for every word in the foreign language, they get an extra point).
Motivate with Movies
Now you know how to take out the best of foreign movies! It’s a different and fun way of learning new languages, and it can help students get motivated and keep learning as much as possible. If you would like to keep learning Spanish, join us at Homeschool Spanish Academy and have the best time with us through your learning experience!
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