Have you seen this quote before on the internet?
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Apparently Einstein said this. It reminds me of my approach to watching French films at school and university.
I’m not saying I was “insane”. Just that I kept doing the wrong things and hoping that everything would work out okay. What were those wrong things you ask?
My approach to listening back then was:
➤ practice makes perfect (I mean, what else can you do right?)
I used to:
➤ rent out cassettes of French films (yes, video cassettes!) from the library and watch them at home
➤ watch them with subtitles
➤ feel frustrated at needing the subtitles
➤ want to give up
For a few years before I came to France, I thought watching films in the language would be good for “listening practice”.
You know the feeling. Once you get beyond the basics, you want to get in touch with the real language, not just textbooks.
When people give boring, generic language learning advice (major eye roll), they say things like:
➤ Watch films!
➤ Read the newspaper!
➤ Listen to the radio!
➤ Read books!
Do the things you do anyway, just in the language you want to learn. So far, so good.
But this advice ignores the challenges that make you want to throw your laptop out of the window. As we’ve seen over the past few weeks when trying to understand Never Let Me Go – here’s a reminder:
⇒ Films represent the culture behind the language – even if you can understand the words, what you hear may not make sense to you.
⇒ You won’t understand parts of the dialogue that are references to other films, works of art, historical events etc. It’s not your fault, it’s just what happens when you’re not from that culture.
⇒ Of all spoken dialogue (TV series dialogue, lines in theatre plays etc), film dialogue is the hardest to catch
⇒ You watch a film once (unless you watch all the Fast and Furious films). It takes time to get into the context, adapt to the different actor’s voices and understand the plot.
⇒ Concentrating for 1.5 to 2 hours requires a lot of attention. You don’t get ad breaks. You may have lots of dialogue to process. It’s mentally exhausting when English isn’t your native language. This is true whether or not you’re watching with subtitles.
This is why just watching films isn’t helping you. Hence my “insanity” quote. I’m not saying you’re crazy. I’m just saying that when you don’t know any better, change is tough.
You don’t know what to do to fix the situation. And let’s face it, it’s nice to stick on a film and feel like the language is going into your brain.
➤ But I don’t want you to sit in front of your computer crying in frustration (water and electricity don’t mix).
➤ I don’t want you to shout abuse at Ryan Gosling (he doesn’t deserve it)
➤ I don’t want you to throw your laptop out of the window (those things are expensive!)
That’s why I created Movie Mindset Shift.
So you can end the frustration that comes with trying and failing to watch entire movies.
It’s a 30-day email challenge. I made it because I see you making the same mistakes as I did.
When you try to watch a whole film without subtitles, you get frustrated because you can only follow the plot, not the whole dialogue.
You’re different. You want to catch everything you hear. You’re ready for a different approach.
My experience at school and uni taught me that watching whole films in order to “practise” is
To understand everything, you need to start small and manageable:
- Watch film clips
- Do exercises that let you catch 95% of the clip, rather than your usual 60%
- Understand why you don’t understand.
In my Movie Mindset Shift challenge, you watch and understand 10 clips from 3 of the best films of the last 20 years
- Moonrise Kingdom
You go beyond just listening – you do exercises that work because they teach you why you don’t understand.
Here’s what you get when you sign up:
– activities for each video which won’t remind you of boring multiple choice tasks from your schooldays: dictations, gap fills, fixing bad subtitles etc
– my video feedback on each clip – I’ll guide you through each clip, explaining what was tricky to catch and why
– my written feedback on each clip
– the full transcript of each piece of video feedback (in case you can’t understand me)
– the feedback in audio format in case you want to take it out on a walk
– 10 clips to watch on YouTube
– emails to help you keep the momentum – even though it doesn’t matter if you don’t complete the challenge in 30 days
– information on the cultural background, context and plot
– exercises to help you understand why you don’t understand
I’ve upgraded and expanded the course since I first launched it and got feedback from different participants. I’ve added more videos, worksheets for each clip and sharing my insights into why these 3 films are my favourites.
And more importantly, you change your mindset.
You shift your thinking to end the frustration that comes from watching movies in English – that’s priceless.
After English learners take the challenge they:
– realise that watching whole films in order to “practise” is a waste of their time
– know what to do with movie clips to gradually build up their skills
– stop beating themselves up for not understanding
– realise that it’s okay to use subtitles if they need them
– discover fun ways to work on listening that have nothing to do with the exercises your remember from school
– realise that you can improve your listening without “just listening” and hoping for the best
Most importantly, thanks to Movie Mindset Shift, they take action. You won’t find much theory in the challenge. It’s all about “getting your hands dirty” by trying to understand fast, natural speech.
To find out more or to join the challenge, just click the image below.
Fed up of watching movies with subtitles?
Feel nervous before you talk to a native speaker in case you don’t understand them?
“Movies on the Run” is an audio course that teaches you 10 English listening secrets that will help you understand native speakers when they talk fast.
Plus, you discover famous movies and the quotes that have become part of everyday speech and culture so you can fit in better. Find out more about Movies on the Run.