Works on: Speaking & Pronunciation
Effectiveness: 9/10 Fun Factor: 7/10
Using movies and television for language learning can be very effective if used correctly. It can be a great way to learn new words, practice your listening skills, and create visual associations with the language. But what if watching movies could also help you with your pronunciation and speaking skills? As you are learning a new language, you will often find yourself knowing what to say, but it comes out all wrong. It sounds great in your head, but when you try to say it out loud, your mouth can’t seem to follow your mind. Your lips and tongue get all tangled up and you stumble on lots of words. That’s because your mouth is so used to pronouncing your own native tongue, that it continually wants to snap back in that mode.
“Ratatouille? How the heck am I supposed to say that?” – Your mouth
Practice is the only way to rewire your brain and mouth to be comfortable with all these new sounds. There’s no need to sound perfect, but you do want to pronounce well enough for people to easily understand you. It’s important to practice this early on and keep at it as your skill-level increases. And you can do so while watching your favorite movie! Remember when you were a child and used to repeat everything your friend would say just to make them really angry? This activity is similar, except that it won’t result in a slap in the face and the outcome will be very positive.
You can pick any short scenes with enough dialogue, or do this as you watch a full movie or episode. Just make sure that the material is appropriate for your current skill level. Simply repeat after the actors to practice your pronunciation. You can pause and rewind if needed. Try to have the same intonations, stress patterns, and pronunciation as them. Even when you feel that something is mumbled, try to copy that mumbling. You need to get used to the fact that your new language is not always perfectly enunciated. Sure, you should always try to speak clearly whenever you have an actual conversation, but trying to match that mumbling while doing this activity will get you in true native mode. You will see that by imitating the actors, it will be easier to have a good pronunciation in future conversations. Plus, it can be quite entertaining if you really get in character. Go all out and copy the actor’s emotions! If they get angry, act angry.
Don’t worry too much about what the words mean for now. Focus solely on the way of speaking. Sure, you will most likely learn a few words on-the-go, but remember that this is a pronunciation exercise. You’ll start to notice every little speech nuances that makes a native speaker sound native. Do this every once in a while and you will have a pronunciation advantage over everyone who doesn’t practice with famous actors (sounds quite glamorous, doesn’t it?). Sure, it can feel a bit silly to be doing this on your own, but repeating after the actors out loud will greatly improve both your pronunciation and interest in the language.
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Image Attribution of Will_Smith_2011,_3.jpg used and modified in this video: By Walmart Stores [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. All rights to their respective owners. Some images used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes.
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