Welcome! Bienvenue! Bienvenido! Willkommen! Yokoso! Ahlan wa sahlan!



With the rapid increase of multi-culturalism across Canadian classrooms, cross-cultural studies and international relations has become a focal point for many educators. The use of foreign film is an excellent way for students to become familiar with other cultural traditions and to appreciate the artistry of foreign media. The use of foreign film in particular, engages secondary language arts students by delivering a visual representation of storytelling--a component in every culture worldwide. The combination of listening to a different language, while reading the subtitles, and watching the characters on the screen gives foreign film its unique quality. The contemporary classroom in Canada is now a diverse and dynamic environment. Teachers need to recognize the importance of preparing students for a progressively multi-cultural Canadian society. The use of foreign film also engages the reluctant reader and gives proficient readers something new and interesting to work with. Introduce your students to an enriching education that will guide them to success in their future by including foreign film in your english language arts class. It can be a powerful way to deliver the language arts.


In the Canadian context, foreign film is any motion picture that is filmed and produced outside of North America. Typically they are also derived from non-english speaking nations. Because the focus is on language, the use of subtitles are usually provided for the viewer. The act of listening to the original language of the film and by reading the english subtitles gives foreign film a distinct active participation. What makes foreign film so interesting (especially in the classroom setting) is that it is a reflection of the cultural setting from its origin. For example, a traditional Japanese love story may be quite different from the typical American romance genre. Foreign film has been on the North American cinema radar since post World War Two.Wikipedia
Since then, it has remained a popular film choice and even has its own category in the Academy Awards.



We already know that film is popular among students. Many students may respond with enthusiasm because watching a film seems like less work and more of an act of enjoyment. To them it is a passive activity where they are just required to sit and take it in. What we want to stress as educators, is that watching a film, especially a foreign film, is an active process that requires knowledge and skills. Film is a form of communication just like a book is. It is nothing until it is viewed, understood, and appreciated by the student. It is an art form and a way to express thoughts, ideas, and feelings (Johnson & Bone). There are also many of the same literary elements in film that are found in books such as: character, plot, setting, foreshadow, etc. Also, there are certain elements found in film that one cannot get alone from a novel or poem. The use of camera angles, wardrobe, music, lighting, expression of voice, etc. all convey a message to the viewer. By teaching language arts with film, students are given an opportunity to become engaged in a new way. They are now looking for specific elements within the story that contrives meaning for them.


The inclusion of subtitles with foreign film offers a more educational spin on using just regular film. Much like the act of having students listen to a recording of a story on a tape, the visual component of the film caters to both visual and auditory learners. Once students become interested in the film's content, they will want to read the subtitles and may even improve on their comprehension as a result. As mentioned above, it also helps students understand the nature of other cultures' interpretation of what art and story mean. This can have an enormous effect on a classroom with students who are of a minority group. Also, depending on the grade you are teaching, foreign film studies can also be related to social studies topics. Many foreign flicks have some sort of political message that can easily be linked to current events or historical events.


Yes! Foreign film works with the student to: read, write, listen, speak, view, and represent. It matches with all GLO's and can be matched to specific SLO's depending on the teacher's decision as a professional. Now even though this page is specifically aimed toward secondary level students, it could be used at the primary level as well depending on where the particular class is at with their reading and comprehension skills. The idea is to engage students and give them something new to work with that will expand their idea of what english language arts really entails. The response that you will get from your students will tell you everything that you need to know!



The inclusion of foreign film in the english classroom has received substantial research in the last 6 years. An important resource for the film savvy teacher is Engaging Reluctant Readers Through Foreign Film by Kerry P. Holmes and several co-authors. This book is a wonderful tool as it is designed specifically for the english language arts teacher. It includes several lesson plans, vocabulary activities, and a list of classroom appropriate films to choose from. It works very well in conjunction with the secondary english curriculum so it can be compared to using the traditional way to teach literature using novels, etc. There are also several studies done throughout North America that focus on the inclusion of technology in the classroom. There are also extensive studies on the use of film in relation to a greater understanding of language itself. By not only reading the subtitles, and listening to the characters speak, students are also learning how voice and expression can manipulate the use of language. They become greater masters of communication by engaging with foreign film.


As teachers, we should be cautious as with choosing any form of media. Not only should you be conscious of elements such as appropriate language (subtitles in this case), nudity, and mature content, but you also need to be sensitive to cultural issues that students may not be able to grasp. Although part of the purpose of introducing foreign film to language arts students is to reveal a range of cultural traditions, there are certain discretions that educators should exercise. Use your professional judgment.


Director: Siddiq Barmak
Country: Afghanistan
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLMnB6OeJgU

2. Persepolis
Director: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Country: Iran/France
Film website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/persepolis/

3. Water
Director: Deepa Mehta
Country: India

4. Sophie Scholl
Director: Marc Rothemund
Country: Germany
Film website: http://www.sophieschollmovie.com/

5. Beijing Bicycle
Director: Wang Xiaoshuai
Country: China
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpKh79XngZU


See what the students are saying:==


Film in many respects can be used for the majority of ELA activities traditionally done with a book or poetry. The point of film is to engage students to another media form that offers similar and new ways of examining a story. Have fun and be creative with lesson plans. Here are a few ideas to get you going.....

Vocabulary Exercises: For most films, vocabulary that is either necessary for the comprehension of the film or necessary in order to discuss the film, should be a focal point. You may deal with this vocabulary prior to screening the film or as the vocabulary comes up in discussions. You may wish to add additional vocabulary depending on your students comfort level. When appropriate, add cultural notes for you to discuss with your students. As authentic documents, films are incredibly rich in culture. Film Arobics Combine activities of listening to the language in the film without subtitles and then watch the film again with subtitles as well as the students' new knowledge of the specific vocabulary you would like them to focus on.

Compare and Contrast: Another interesting way to incorporate foreign film into english language arts is to watch a popular western version of a movie and compare it by watching the same movie that is made in a different country and is not offered in english. What do the students notice about the differences or the similarities in the plot, setting, character traits, etc. They can express this is any writing assignment you choose. Ie: journal entry, essay, etc.

Movie Review: Have students research several movie reviews of popular or new releases in the theatres. This exercise gives them an understanding of what is communicated in a movie review and why one would read them prior to watching a movie. Then after watching a foreign film, have students write a review of the movie but intended for readers of the specific country the film derives from. This will allow students to reflect on cultural norms, vocabulary, and social construction.

A Word of Advice: Get your students hooked! Don't allow your students to watch an entire film in one setting. This is done for a few reasons. First, a typical film is too long for a student to stay fully engaged. Especially if you are asking them to pay attention to key factors while the film is on. Also, reading subtitles at a quick pace can be tiring on the student. It is a lot to take in when you are also focusing on other aspects of the film. Second, if students become interested in the film, it becomes much ore rewarding and exciting if they know that they have more of it to look forward to! Film Arobics Also-foregin film should never be the only thing a teacher uses in the ELA classroom but may choose to focus a unit on this.


In conclusion, I hope that having read some of the research, listening to the inspirational movie, and checking out some of the foreign film options has given you inspiration to try this in your own classroom! The potential to engage students to action through the use of media is a great way to create interest in language arts and even the social studies curriculum. Use what your students are interested in personally to get you going. Use film in any aspect to tie in fundamental language arts skills with cultural milieu. Encourage your students to think beyond the usual scope and focus on the world around them. These are lifelong attributes that will create ethically responsible individuals that are active members of our global community. Foreign film can be a powerful tool to bring the world into your classroom and show students the diverse nature of the language arts. Remember that meaningful learning equals an engaged classroom.


Film Arobics- A wonderful resource for teachers that offers film suggestions, research on foreign film integration, lesson plans, and much more!
Film Lesson Plans- A great resource for the teacher wondering which direction to take foreign film studies in the classroom.
Independent Film- A helpful website that gives lesson plans and modules for foreign film.
Foreign Film Blog-Kid friendly foreign film blog site that gives suggestions of new films to see and creates online discussion forums.
Foreign Film for Students- A wonderful website that is dedicated to introducing students to important issues expressed through foreign film. Encourages students to understand principles of United Nations.


Coynik, David. Film: Real to Reel. (Evanston: McDougal, Littell &Co), 1979.

Golden, John. Reading In The Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom. (Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English), 2001.

Holmes Kerry P; Elizabeth L. Glenn Stuart; Mary H. Warner. Review by: R. Jeffrey Cantrell. Engaging Reluctant Readers through Foreign Film
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 49, No. 5 (Feb., 2006), pp. 453-454.

Johnson, Ron and Jan Bone. Understanding The Film: An Introduction to Film Appreciation. (Skokie: National Textbook Company), 1978.

Pegrum, M. Film, Culture and Identity: Critical Intercultural Literacies for the Language Classroom. Language And Intercultural Communication, 8(2),
(2008) 136-154.