OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Learning English by Acting

Learning English with extracts from famous tv series without subtitles

Photo of kevin kakeu

Written by

The proposal is to use extracts from famous tv series such as "The Walking Dead", "Breaking Bad", "Friends" and other tv series people follow assiduously. There would be some key sentences containing English grammar "appropriate" for the level of the class. The grammar could include verb tenses, possessive pronouns, uncountable nouns and other topics.  The teacher would have to show the extract containing a maximum amount of sentences 3 or 4 times depending on the difficulty of the conversation. The video should contain only a conversation and not violent actions or passages that would not have the purpose to make the student focus on the audio. During the listening part, the student would have to take notes, trying to write the entire conversation, so to develop better spelling abilities. After the third or fourth attempt, the teacher would have to show students the script of the conversation and explain the grammar in the key sentences. At the end of the listening activity, the students should repeat the sentences from the conversation trying to imitate both the voice and the tone of the character  (possibly also their gestures). The final activity would be a conversation between students. The topic would be related to the conversation in the extract, where students using sentences from the extract should be rewarded and students who use them and also imitate the characters should be rewarded even more. While the listening part can help students understand English better, the speaking part can help students express themselves more naturally in English. Furthermore, there would be no problems with teachers being from the same country as the students because the students would train their accent following the extracts.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This proposal is designed for students in higher education. This alternative approach to learning English could be an opportunity for students to have better job opportunities in a world where English is becoming always more important.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The project could be implemented easily with contained cost to the hosting institution. The project would also be easy to reproduce once the extracts are gathered. At this stage, the project would mostly need crowdfunding for its development and to design a sustainable business model.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The idea may be experimented at "Dream in English School", a language school located in Rome, Italy, where I am working at the moment. My employer has given me the permission to experiment it as he would like to see whether students prefer it to our standard method.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am studying Economics and Finance at John Cabot University, an American university located in Rome. While studying, I work as a French tutor at John Cabot, and as an English teacher at Dream in English School.

12 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kevin,

Have you heard of Imaginative Projects by Matthew Wicks - https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Imaginative_Projects.html?id=hhuIQgAACAAJ? There is a soap opera lesson in there. I might even have a copy of my adaptation of the lesson. (I used to teach English to foreigners). I am wondering if this might be a good base to adapt to different lessons. I used to have my students continue the dialogue in the soap opera. It became very imaginative and very creative.

Photo of kevin kakeu
Team

Hi Kate,

Thank you for your comment. I did not know about such a book before you mentioned it. I took a look at it and it seems it could be really valuable to my idea. I will certainly read it and watch the soap opera to pick up some more ideas from it.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

It is a good book for project lessons. I would also recommend looking at materials for classes for native students and adapting them e.g. https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/soap-opera-project-6278520

There is a lot of material out there.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

http://www.onestopenglish.com/teenagers/beyond/pdf-content/beyond-arts-and-media-soap-operas-lesson-plan/554086.article

Photo of kevin kakeu
Team

I am really appreciative of all the sources you are providing me with! I truly believe that all these ideas may increase the value of mine. My purpose going forward is to avoid making students feel awkward when repeating the characters' sentences. Rehearsing with a certain speed and accent is at the center of this idea. Thus, I will adopt anything that helps me make students feel more comfortable.
Having attended an Italian high school and working in the English school I have had the possibility to notice that some students know grammar and English rules, but then speaking is a real challenge for them. When I went to New York I could understand most of what people said but I could not reply. Three months before doing my test at JCU I was frustrated, I could not go abroad and the English school I went to didn't help much. I had started watching movies and repeating. The first weeks I could understand only words like "hello" but then my hearing improved significantly and the funny part began. This is something I really care about because people spend thousands of money to attend private English schools, but they don't meet their goals.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I can only say that I have the same experiences learning German and French.

Have you seen these posts? They might be of interest to you:

Pitching: the Bridge between Idea and Reality 
Literacy Speedway: Used “globally" and can be a prototype for FREE education for all courses! It is collaborative, data driven and social! 

Photo of kevin kakeu
Team

Thank you for signaling them to me. I will take a look at them.

Photo of Mary Ressler
Team

Good Morning.

The idea of integrating words with visuals is common in Finland and they have the highest literacy rates! This is one reason I have had a 100% success rate in my classroom. Of course there are other components but I really think it is something the United States should integrate universally. Check out the Finnish educational system if you have time. There is also a trip to go there and I can find out when. I have been and I’m connected to the representative via LinkedIn. I will send you the details.

Photo of kevin kakeu
Team

Hi Mary,

Thank you for commenting the idea. I will check out the Finnish educational system as soon as I can. It could be a great start that could help me develop a sustainable business model for my idea. Please let me know also about the other information you mentioned in your comment.

Photo of Mary Ressler
Team

Here it is: The changing face of higher education in Africa through technology.
Omondi Collins
06:35, Jan 20, 2017


This is a distant learning through the computer lessons introduced into our schools of education in Kenya to learning competitive through E learning classes in Kenya.

Photo of silvia pulino
Team

Kevin, this is an inspired idea. I believe many English teachers work hard to find material to bring live English into the classroom, but what you are proposing is a systematic approach leveraging students' natural interest in contemporary culture. It is a big initial undertaking, but it has strong potential. Have you thought about producing a mock version of it - say enough material for one class - so you can demonstrate the concept to people who might be interested in supporting your idea?

Photo of kevin kakeu
Team

Using tv series most people know may make the class more interesting. The idea is that some students may be motivated to continue watching the series they like in the original language without using subtitles. I have already thought about producing a mock version. I am trying to create it using just a couple of tv series.