In  H. C. Liou, J. E. Katchen, and H. Wang (Eds.), Lingua Tsing Hua (pp. 221-236)  Taipei: Crane, 2003.

Teaching a Listening and Speaking Course with DVD Films: Can It Be Done?

Johanna E. Katchen


University-level listening courses are usually taught using a textbook with accompanying audiotapes.  More recently some texts and also some teachers have been incorporating some video materials.  While there have been many anecdotal reports about how motivating video is, there have been few serious studies on video use.

Lin (2002) looked at the incorporation of video into a two-semester general English class for non-majors at a Taiwan university.  This study applied some of Lin’s techniques and tracks the first semester of a freshman listening and speaking course for English majors.  Instead of a textbook, three DVD films were used, with most of the listening and speaking activities throughout the semester based on material in or questions raised by the films.  Supplemental activities were posted on the class website in National Tsing Hua University’s e-learn web platform and other supplemental material was accessible from the instructor’s website.

Evaluation of the study was done through a pre-test and post-test on listening skills and questionnaires designed to elicit student opinions on the method of course delivery and the materials.  The study was designed with a view to gauging and enhancing the effectiveness of using DVD films to teach listening and speaking skills and how one can use the web to support such an approach.  The study thus addresses the following question: Is it feasible to use DVD films as the major materials for teaching listening and speaking skills?  Results indicate that a number of issues related to syllabus design and the materials development need to be addressed before DVD films can replace traditional texts and tapes as effective teaching materials.

Key words:  Video, DVD films, listening skills, speaking skills

Introduction and Rationale

When asked which of the four skills they feel weakest in, students in Taiwan most often say listening.  Indeed, while reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are often tested, there are no sections on listening or speaking on the Joint College Entrance Examinations.  Yet even those students who have already achieved a relatively high level of fluency in English still lament their poor listening skills.  In teaching, listening is often the neglected skill, presumed to improve along with work on the other skills.

Listening, along with reading, was long thought to be a passive skill, presumably because one did not have to produce language but just sit quietly and absorb it.  More recently we have come to see that both skills require the active involvement of the brain.  In a daily life, for example, it is virtually impossible to carry on a sensible conversation if one does not listen.  At best, such a conversation would be one-sided and dominated by the wishes of only one of the participants.

All day long we are bombarded by sounds; some of them, like the noise of traffic, we tune out for the sake of our sanity.  Other sounds are full of language—radios and TVs playing, fellow passengers talking on cell phones, public announcements, the conversations of passers-by.  We tune out, they waft in, and sometimes we enjoy the eavesdropping.  At other times, we are supposed to or try to listen—to our colleagues at meetings, to the TV news, to the complaints of our children—and yet we find ourselves tuning out, not able to pay attention.  And when the input is boring or we are sleepy, noise and speech all merge into fuzziness.  This is normal behavior in our first language, so why do we expect more of students in a second language?  We might also consider telling our students about these characteristics of listening and then invite them to do a little simple research to discover for themselves how they listen in their first language and what characteristics render listening and comprehending harder or easier. 

When we ask Taiwan students whether they understand ICRT, the local English radio station, they often say, “No.”  However, closer questioning reveals that they mean they do not understand 100%, or they do not understand the way they do for a radio station broadcasting in Mandarin.  And in one sense they are right.  We have to work harder at listening in a second or third language.  In our L1 we can selectively tune out and in again; we recognize easily the signals for topic change and important information.  It takes time to learn this for a new language and culture.  The students are mistaken, though, in thinking that they have to understand 100% when they don’t even do that in their L1.  As Brown and Yule (1983) point out “…the aim of a listening comprehension exercise should be for the student to arrive successfully at a reasonable interpretation, and not process every word, and not to try to work out all that is involved in the literal meaning of the utterance.”

Moreover, we have different purposes for listening and for many of those purposes, 100% comprehension is not required.  In transactional listening (classification is from Brown & Yule, 1983), we enter a conversation to get specific information, such as for mailing a package at the post office.  If we do not understand something necessary to complete the transaction, we ask for clarification.  Our textbooks tend to concentrate on this type of interaction.

The purpose of conversational interaction, on the other hand, is not usually to get information but to interact for some social reason—greeting colleagues, chatting with friends, even problem-solving.  Conversation is full of incomplete utterances, repetitions, mumblings, and yet we fill in the underlying meaning and go on.  Occasionally we get it wrong and the conversation backtracks a bit to straighten out the misunderstanding.  Unfortunately, although this kind of conversational interaction makes up most of our speaking every day, textbooks do not usually include much of it.  There may be an underlying assumption that for learners at earlier stages it is more important to be able to ascertain the correct information for getting on the right train than it is to be able to have a pleasant chat with fellow train passengers.  But students at the upper intermediate stages and beyond should also be able to carry on small talk effectively, yet even undergraduate English majors may use inappropriate language when required to use interactional language in English.

Perhaps it has been assumed that if one can chat in L1, the skill will carry over to L2.  There is some truth in the assumption.  Much anecdotal evidence shows that those who love to talk in L1 simply must talk in L2 and can use their even minimal L2 language skills to maximum communicative advantage.  However, a poor conversationalist in L1 is unlikely to behave differently in L2 without some intervention.  For both these types, individual differences take precedence over linguistic ability.  Yet the majority of students fall somewhere in-between; they are silent in class but can be heard chattering away in L1 outside the classroom.  It is these students who may benefit from our teaching of listening skills and strategies.  Moreover, conversation skills are not automatic, neither in L1 nor in L2; at the high school level in particular students can benefit from a little bit of advice and practice in how to carry on a conversation both in L1 and L2. 

In addition to transactional and interactional listening, we may also listen for information without the opportunity to interact.  We listen at the airport for our flight to be called, to the weather report to find out whether we need an umbrella tomorrow.  Here we may listen for specific information and ignore the rest.  We listen for more general information when we listen to the news.  Brown and Yule (1983) also list listening for enjoyment.  In an L2 this may include entertainment, such as watching a TV program or film whose purpose is not primarily to impart information but to entertain.

Listening, like reading, is more than a matter of deciphering individual words.  We usually start with some expectation of what we are going to hear from the context.  For example, in a post office, one expects to talk to the clerk about stamps and letters and other such topics.  Exceptions do occur; if clerk and customer are old friends, a personal topic may come up.  If clerk and customer have interacted many times, they may make small talk before or after the main postal transaction.

Background knowledge and previous personal experience helps us to deduce possible language from context; they also help us to understand the topics discussed (Rost, 1990).  To take a simple example, English teachers can understand conversations and speeches about aspects of English teaching relatively easily; they would have a lot more difficulty with conversations and speeches about aspects of physics.  This should be common sense, yet students need to be reminded that it is not their listening that is at fault if they do not have the background knowledge.  Background knowledge and experience also play a more basic role in life.  As we mature, we learn that certain behaviors usually reflect certain feelings and emotions (which may be culturally determined).  We learn how to read and interpret the paralinguistic and nonverbal cues according to our native cultural norms.  Such norms of interpretation may differ even when the language is considered to be the same (e.g., in parts of the USA, Britain, Australia).  When we learn a new language, we need to learn at some point something about cultural and pragmatic norms.

Brown (1990) points out that there are three aspects from which one can interpret an utterance.  First, before listening, one uses background (top-down) to predict the utterance.  While listening, we use the phonological system and other discrete aspects of the utterance (bottom-up) to confirm/reject our predictions and also get information/details we did not predict.  After the utterance, we try to infer what the speaker meant.  In our everyday listening we usually employ all three nearly all the time.  While listening, as we confirm or reject predictions, we make new predictions and are drawing inferences at the same time, as we continue listening and deciphering the phonological code.

To sum up, students may feel their listening is poor, yet their concept of what good listening is and the purpose of listening may be inadequate.  Listening is not a word-by-word deciphering enterprise but a search for meaning.  Detailed analysis of listening texts will not be of much use to students who have been trained to read the text first and then listen.  All listening involves a bit of intelligent guessing and occasionally dealing with the unexpected. 

Video and DVDS

Video has long been used as both a source of authentic listening input and also as a stimulus for speaking or writing activities.  Nevertheless, there have been few research studies comparing results teaching with and without video (notably Lin, 2002).  One advantage of video use that has been shown is in the area of motivation (Chiang, 1996; Lin, 2002); students tend to find video material more interesting and are more likely to become involved in the lesson.

Video, and in particular films, offers some advantages for enhancing listening skills.  Although films are scripted, they are made to sound natural to the native speaker and thus they do represent authentic language.  Too much teaching material in Taiwan is presented in artificially slow and clear language, but at some point students need to be able to deal with language as it is naturally spoken.  Since they do not live in an ESL context, films can to some extent substitute for the input students cannot get from outside the classroom.

Real spoken language is full of false starts, incomplete sentences, and hesitations.  Sometimes people mumble, some others may have an unusual voice quality.  There are regional, ethnic, and even gender variations and differences in level of formality.  These are hard to indicate in textbooks, yet we find good examples in films in plausible contexts.  In these contexts, teachers can explore with students issues of appropriateness and pragmatics while observing linguistic, paralinguistic, and nonverbal behavior.  

When we teach or practice listening skills in the classroom, we usually focus on intensive listening and most often this is listening for specific information.  Films provide the opportunity to observe how native speakers use interactional language combined with appropriate body language and other pragmatic behavior.  Students can also practice extensive listening, focusing on following what is going on in the story without worrying too much about every single word.  If a film has a motivating story line, students are propelled along by their own curiosity about the content, similar to the way they watch a film in L1—for entertainment.  The listening task becomes more realistic.  When we do this, we can also point out some strategies to use and encourage students to find strategies that work for them, for example, viewing a scene a second time and changing the caption option or paying attention to body language. 

A DVD (Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc) has many advantages over the traditional VHS format.  Because it can store far more information, sound and picture quality are much higher.  Most DVDs come with a lot of extra information, for example, subtitles/captions in several languages, sometimes two or more extra sound tracks, and added video material, such as interviews with the actors.  For language learners the added subtitles are of even greater interest because they allow the learner to read in English what the actors are saying and also to read in the L1 (first language).  Teachers can also make use of the added interviews or other material.

Making classroom activities for DVDs is essentially the same as for ordinary videos (for example, Stempleski & Tomalin, 1990; Stempleski & Tomalin, 2001; Katchen, 1996; Lin, 2001), though the teacher can make more use of the English subtitles because she does not have to transcribe them herself.  Varying viewing with L2, L1, or no subtitles is also more convenient.

Lin (2002) conducted a study using DVD films as teaching material with two sections of General English classes at Chinese Culture University and found that the experimental group showed improvement over the control group in speaking but there was no significant difference in listening comprehension.  We decided to replicate Lin’s study in part with first-year English majors.

The Course Freshman Listening and Speaking

Freshman Listening and Speaking (FL1041 and FL1042) is a two-semester course required for all first-year English majors at National Tsing Hua University.  Listening receives a greater focus than speaking does; the course is followed by second-year conversation and third-year public speaking.  No further listening courses are required although intermediate and advanced listening are offered as electives.

Typically, Freshman Listening and Speaking has used a listening textbook with accompanying audiotapes.  Students at this level are considered intermediate to upper intermediate.  During the past 15 years, the speaking level of first-year students has improved quite dramatically, with entrants now being reasonably fluent and virtually completely comprehensible.  There has been no standard listening test to rate their ability.

During the spring semester 2002 this instructor taught one section of the course to replace another teacher on leave.  She did not use a textbook, focused more on speaking skills, and tried out some authentic listening materials.  From this experience she formed the opinion that first-year English majors could indeed use authentic (made for native speakers of English) materials for listening practice with appropriate pre-teaching activities and guidance, and this conclusion led in part to the current study.

Also during spring semester 2002 one of our MA students in English teaching expressed her wish to conduct her thesis research on the use of DVD films for teaching listening.  As this student needed subjects and the instructor had a course with potential subjects, it seemed the perfect partnership.  Both “teachers” met several times during summer to plan the first semester’s activities and also every Thursday morning during the semester to review the activities for the Friday morning class and to re-organize plans for future weeks.  The fall semester course functioned as the pilot study or first part of the study, with spring semester 2003 making up the actual study. 


Three DVD films made up the central units of the course, along with other supplemental activities (see Appendix A for class calendar).  After some introductory activities (including a clip “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from the 1940 Disney film “Fantasia” on DVD and a current TV ad on video from Cathay Pacific based on this clip) and a listening pre-test given during the first three weeks, the film “You’ve Got Mail” was used during weeks 4 and 5, with a follow-up speaking activity in Week 6.  During Weeks 7 and 8 the animated film “Atlantis: The Lost Continent” was used, with Weeks 10 and 11 for follow-up group reports comparing aspects of this film with the Japanese animated film “The City in the Sky”.  Week 12 fell near the American holiday Thanksgiving and the short video (on DVD) “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” was used.  “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was presented during weeks 13 and 14, followed by a short travel video on a Pennsylvania Christmas shown for Week 15 (December 20).  During the last two weeks, students gave group reports on aspects of the Harry Potter film and during the last meeting a listening post-test was given.

Pedagogical Successes and Failures

While the reader might expect separate discussion of successes and failures, they are sometimes interrelated and sometimes our failures quite fortunately lead to remedies and eventual success.  Moreover, it seems more reasonable to organize this section in terms of aspects of the course.

Listening Activities

The instructor has been using video for enhancing listening skills for over 10 years, and in this course utilized some previously developed and previously used materials—the “Fantasia” clip and follow-up commercial, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and the Pennsylvania Christmas video clip.  Even these saw some technological changes—a required reflection paragraph from the students on the e-learn website after viewing Fantasia’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and the song “Over the River and Through the Woods” from “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” taught at the beginning of the class by displaying the sheet music on the big screen while the computer played the piano accompaniment—and we sang along.

For the three DVD films, the instructor developed and taught the activities for the first and third while the graduate student developed and taught the second.  Both used standard activities with video (see examples in Appendix B) that incorporated primarily listening and also sometimes speaking.  These seemed to proceed well.

Listening Quizzes

After the second week of “You’ve Got Mail”, both weeks of “Atlantis: The Lost Continent”, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, and after both weeks of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” a ten-question quiz was given for the purpose of data collection.  These were sometimes written the day before the class met and occasionally had errors such as two correct answers or other errors attributable to haste.  Moreover, it is important to distinguish questions that ask students to listen for specific information from questions that ask students to deduce information or to interpret meaning.  In an ideal quiz, both types of questions should appear.  Teachers were not always too careful during the first semester.  An additional problem here is that not all movie scenes lend themselves well to both types of questions.  We taught a few scenes in succession (occasionally skipping a scene but keeping sequence) and then at the end of the class, used the last scene of the class for the quiz.  Perhaps this is not always a good idea.

The Listening Pre-test and Post-test

The pretest and the posttest were both adopted from the book “TOEFL-CBT.”  This book is designed especially for self-study by students who are going to take the TOEFL test in order to study abroad. The tests are CBT, computer-based tests, so that during each test, the student controls the computer and the time for answering each question.  However, lacking a multimedia lab where students control individual computers and desiring to save time by testing all 28 students at the same time, the way the test was administered was modified.  The researcher (Luo, in progress) re-typed the on-screen answer choices onto handouts.  For the test, the researcher played the test CD through the language lab main computer, speaker, and video system; students also saw their answer choices on the screen.  After each question was played, students had 15 seconds to choose an answer before the researcher moved on to the next question.  Students were instructed to circle the correct answer(s) on the test sheets. The total score was 100, with the main results of the pretest and posttest being the participants’ mean scores.

The pretest was conducted in September 2002. The source of the tests was from “Test One” of the seven simultaneous TOEFL tests.  Twenty-eight participants took the test and the mean score was 68.617. Since this pretest used was one from the intermediate level, thus according to the result, the participants’ performance can be considered as fair.

The post-test was conducted in December 2002, after instruction using three movies in the fall semester. Students’ mean score on the post-test was 65.425. In fact, this result was not expected since students were predicted to have better grades on the post-test after the instruction of a whole semester. However, this result could have been affected by three factors.  First, the reliability of the tests should be re-confirmed. Second, the students’ physical and mental conditions were two crucial elements that could not be controlled. That is, the pretest was conducted on a warm and sunny September morning, while the post-test was conducted on a cold and dark December morning just before the final exam period began. Third, instruction only lasted for a semester, about four months, and this time span might not be enough for students to exhibit obvious improvement in listening comprehension.

Speaking Activities

When using video, there is a tendency to focus on the input aspect and minimize the output potential.  We teachers want students to pay attention to the great authentic language and tend to devote less time to getting students to produce language by expressing their reactions to what they have seen and heard on the video.  In this course, too, we tend to focus more on listening and less on speaking.  Time is limited since the course meets for only one two-hour period each week. 

Students were graded on an audiotaped self-introduction, the performance of a role play, and two group oral reports based on two of the films viewed.  On the days when films were used as teaching material, most activities focused on listening, but we planned at least one activity for each class that incorporated some paired or group discussion.  Nevertheless, more time should be spent on speaking activities, especially when using the films as teaching material.

Another problem associated with a syllabus focusing more on listening skills was revealed when students gave group presentations.  While most students could handle speaking in English before a group of other students and performed reasonably fluently and comprehensibly, there were a few who looked scared to death and could hardly handle reading from their prepared texts.  Teachers should have uncovered their difficulties earlier and spent some time on remedies such as confidence building, pronunciation help, reading aloud, or other individualized strategies.

Coherence in the Syllabus

One of the great problems that stems from not using a set textbook or set of materials is a sense of lack of coherence.  When one sets out to use several DVD films, for example, one needs some criteria for choosing the films and for the sequencing of the films in the syllabus.  However, it is not enough to just choose interesting and motivating films.  Our courses have objectives that usually involve improvement in language skills. 

As this was our first time in using films in this way, we chose the films first, and the criteria were not always pedagogical.  For example, I chose “You’ve Got Mail” because Lin (2000) had recommended it and because I’d already prepared some teaching materials for it.  I had already decided that this lighthearted romance was appropriate for college freshmen.  We chose films we were familiar with and that were available in Taiwan with both English and Mandarin captions.

When students were asked at the beginning of the study about the kinds of films they liked to view, many chose feature films (with strong story line, though this category seems to overlap with some others), followed by romances, science fiction and animated films.  Thus the three films used were types preferred by at least some students:  “You’ve Got Mail” is a romantic comedy, “Atlantis: the Lost Empire” is animated, and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” may be classed as perhaps science fiction and fantasy.

Table 1.  Student Movie Type Preference (from Luo, in progress)

Which type of movie do you like most?

















More Research on Caption Variations

Earlier research with L1 and L2 captions was carried out with Hong Kong students (McNeill, 1998) using captioned videotapes.  Results indicated that the group which watched with L1 captions scored higher on a comprehension test, whereas the group that used only L2 captions scored higher on a vocabulary test and also made gains in comprehension.  However, while L1 captions aided comprehension, these students could also ignore the audio input of English. 

The great advantage of DVDs over traditional videotapes is in the options for varying the captions.  Lin (2001) and also Lin in Katchen, Fox, Lin, and Chun (2001) has set out all the possible combinations with L1 and L2 audio tracks and captions and suggested some applications.  For example, she has used a film in the students’ L1, Mandarin (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) with the Mandarin audio track, had students translate sections into English and then compare their translations with the English captions provided on the DVD.  Much discussion ensued as to why one translation would be preferred over another. 

During this pilot study, most of the time we showed the DVD film clips with the English captions on.  At the beginning of the study, most students indicated in a questionnaire, given a choice among Chinese captions, English captions, and no captions, that they preferred English captions.  We also felt this was a good way to familiarize students with the voices of the various characters, to help them “tune in to” the characteristics of each speaker before asking them to listen without the help of captions.  We had also observed that when students (not only the students in our class) visited the self-access lab and watched DVDs on their own, they most often selected the English Captions option.

During the fifth week of the semester, after students had experience with captions with one film, they were given an anonymous questionnaire in which the following questions were included.

Table 2.  Student Preference for Caption Type (from Luo, in progress)




No caption

Which kind of captions do you like most?







Which kind of captions helps you to understand most?










Not sure

Do you think changing captions helps you to understand?







As can be seen from the table, although most students liked using the English captions, it was a fairly even split as to whether students thought English or Chinese captions helped their understanding most.

In our teaching, there were times when no captions were used.  First, the few materials from videotape (namely the Christmas travel clip) did not have any captions or subtitles.  Also, during both classes when “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was used, we did a short fill-in the blank activity during the second hour.  Captions were turned off during the filling in and turned back on again for students to check their answers.  Moreover, for each of the six quizzes, which were given at the end of the second hour of the class meetings in which the DVD films were used, captions were turned off and students had to rely on their ears only.

While generally satisfied with this procedure, we should have done more to elicit student opinions in more detail on the use of captions.

Use of the e-learn Platform

The e-learn platform of National Tsing Hua University permits teachers to upload printed materials and assignments/quizzes to the site for student access and allows students to post completed assignments and to carry on discussions in writing.  Teachers can take advantage of automatic quiz grading/feedback to students and grade keeping and calculating functions.

It may seem a bit odd to use such a platform for a listening and speaking course and indeed there are limitations.  Nevertheless, it is part of the philosophy of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature that even when specific language skills are the focus of a course, skills should be integrated.  Therefore, while focusing on listening and speaking students can still do some reading and writing.  Teachers can ask students to use the platform to post short written assignments.  Moreover, e-learn also provides a convenient way to post assignments.  Assignments are usually given verbally at the end of the class meeting and students are told to go to the e-learn site for details.  In addition to written assignments, students may be asked to visit certain websites to find out information that will function as background for the next week’s class work.  See Appendix C for an example assignment.

Greater use of self-access

All DVD and videotape materials used in class were placed in the students’ self-access laboratory for students to use on their own.  They did have to use this resource to prepare both out of class group presentations based on aspects of two of the DVDs.  However, it is not known how many students actually reviewed the materials after class and what amount of time they spent on reviewing. 

In the semester following this preliminary study, we are exploring the use of self-access in this class by asking students to view one film entirely on their own.  Using the computer in the self-access lab or any other, they can download the assignments from the e-learn site and then watch the assigned scenes in the self-access lab.  They then send their completed assignments back to the e-learn site.  Afterward, we will modify the module for use throughout Taiwan on, a virtual classroom for Taiwan’s students of all ages.


The purpose of the study discussed here was to determine whether it was feasible to use DVD films as the major course material in a university level listening and speaking course for English majors.  After one semester we can answer yes from the teacher’s point of view, although the biggest drawback is the time it takes to develop the materials.  Nevertheless, once materials are developed, they can be used again in subsequent classes.  As with any materials, sometimes they do not work well at first and need improving or modification to use with different levels.

A bigger problem is continuity of the syllabus.  At the upper intermediate level and higher, the actual language content of a film is usually not an issue unless there is something unusual (e.g., heavy use of vulgar language, the use of unusual accents or odd voice quality in a main or many characters) that may prompt us to avoid it.  Thus, at higher levels, we tend to choose films according to their content and the way we can exploit that content for group discussion or other activities.  Ideally a class syllabus might have some central theme or set of related themes that are illustrated in the selected films. 

This sort of planning takes more time than a semester.  It would be more reasonable to build up such a resource gradually.  After the completion of the pilot and formal study, we will have developed teaching materials for 10 films.  Lessons for other films are available through the Internet and from other teachers.  The goal is to make these lessons available to other teachers at National Tsing Hua University and throughout Taiwan.


The author would like to express her thanks to Chia-chen Luo (羅家珍) for permission to use data from her thesis research.

Research for this paper was supported in part by the Taiwan Ministry of Education Program for Promoting Academic Excellence of Universities [教育部大學學術追求卓越發展計畫] under grant number 89-E-FA04-1-4.


Brown, G.  (1990).  Listening to spoken English (Second Edition).  New York:  Longman.

Brown, G., & Yule, G. (1983). Teaching the spoken language: An approach based on the analysis of conversational English. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chiang, H.-L. (1996). Students introducing their favorite English movies. Papers from the 12th Conference on English Teaching and Learning in the Republic of China, 154-176. Taipei: The Crane Publishing Co., Ltd.

Chung, J.–M. (1999). The effects of using video texts supported with advance organizers and captions on Chinese college students’ listening comprehension: An empirical study. Foreign Language Annals, 32, 295-308.

Katchen, J. (1996). Using authentic video in English language teaching: Tips for Taiwan’s teachers. Taipei: The Crane Publishing Co. Ltd.

Katchen, J., Fox. T., Lin, L. Y., & Chun, V. (2001).  Developments in digital video. Colloquium presented at the Third Pan-Asian Conference “2001: A Language Odyssey”, November 22-25, 2001, Kitakyushu, Japan. (Published 2002 on CD by Japan Association for Language Teaching, Tokyo.)

Leung, B. (2001). Fostering students’ critical thinking in intercultural communication through films. Paper presented at The Tenth International Symposium and Book Fair on English Teaching, November 9–11, 2001, Taipei, Taiwan.

Lin, L. Y. (2000). Manipulating DVD technology to empower your teaching.  Selected Papers from the Ninth International Symposium on English Teaching, 431-439.  Taipei: the Crane Publishing Co., Ltd.

Lin, L. Y. (2001). Learner-centered activities from the DVD format “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Selected Papers from the Tenth International Symposium on English Teaching, 534-542. Taipei: The Crane Publishing Co. Ltd.

Lin, L. Y. (2002). The effects of feature films upon learners’ motivation, listening comprehension performance and speaking skills: The learner-centered approach. Taipei: Crane Publishing Co., Ltd.

Luo, C. C. (in progress). Using DVD films to enhance college freshmen’s English listening comprehension.  Unpublished master’s thesis, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Markham, P. L., Peter, L. A., & McCarthy T. J. (2001). The effects of native language vs. target language captions on foreign language students’ DVD video comprehension. Foreign Language Annals, 34,.439-445.

Rost, M. (1990). Listening in language learning. London: Longman.

Stempleski, S., & Tomalin, B. (1990). Video in action: Recipes for using video in language teaching. New York: Prentice Hall.


Stempleski, S., & Tomalin, B. (2001). Film: Resource books for teachers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Films and Videos Used

(1973). A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving [Animated Film]. United Features Syndicate.

(2001). Atlantis: The Lost Empire [Animated Film]. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.

(2002). Fantasia [Animated Film]. Disney.  Intercontinental Video Limited.

(2001). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [Film]. Warner Home Video.

(2001). You’ve Got Mail [Film]. Warner Home Video.

(2002). 天空之城: The City in the Sky. [Animated Film]. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.

Appendix A, Semester Calendar

September 13   Introduction to the course
September 20 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia; Cathay Pacific TV commercial
September 27 Pre-test; Preparation for You’ve Got Mail
October 4 You’ve Got Mail
October 11 You’ve Got Mail
October 18 Role Plays based on You’ve Got Mail
October 25 Atlantis
November 1 Atlantis
November 8 No class
November 15 Reports comparing Atlantis and The City in the Sky
November 22 Reports comparing Atlantis and The City in the Sky
November 29 A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
December 6 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
December 13 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
December 20 Christmas Travel Video
December 27 Post-test; two group reports on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
January 3 Four group reports on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; finish up

Appendix B, Sample Activities with “You’ve Got Mail”


Homework Assignment for September 27, posted on the e-learn platform of National Tsing Hua University

Describe in a few sentences a film whose setting is New York City.

In-class Introduction

What are some good characteristics of New York City that would induce you to use it for the setting of a movie or a story?

Why do you think You’ve Got Mail was set in New York City?


Questions for Comprehension and Discussion

Chapter 4
1. Is Joe paying attention while his friend describes the problems?
2. What is Joe thinking about?
3. What kind of store does Joe have?
4. What else will they provide in the store?
5. What is the name of Kathleen’s store?  Describe it.
6. Compare Joe’s store and Kathleen’s store.
Chapter 9
7. What is the relationship of Annabel and Matthew to Joe?
8. How does Kathleen describe her mother?
9. What does “twirl” mean, in “My mother and I used to twirl”?
10. How is Joe’s store doing?  How is Kathleen’s store doing?
Chapter 18
14. How will Joe recognize Shopgirl?
15. What does his friend mean when he says, “She might be a real dog”?
16. When Joe finds out who it is, what does he do?  What would you do?

 You’ve Got Mail—Post-Quiz

Choose the best answer for the following questions.  Underline or circle the best answer.  Choose only one answer.

1. Kathleen’s e-mail friend says he’s in the middle of a project that needs tweaking.  What do you think tweaking means?

  1. money

  2. assistance

  3. clarification

  4. modification

2. When Kathleen asks her keypal if he’s married, how does he answer her?

  1. He says yes.

  2. He says no.

  3. He doesn’t answer the question.

3. When Joe asks, “What’s his handle?” what does he mean?

  1. What kind of car does he drive?

  2. What’s his e-mail name?

  3. How many e-mail names does he have?

  4. There’s a mosquito near your face.

4. How many suggestions about the meaning of 152 do they give?

  1. 4  

  2. 5   

  3. 7   

  4. 152

5. One of the suggestions about the meaning of 152 is correct.

  1. True  

  2. False

6. Which of these things is something Kathleen says she couldn’t tolerate about her keypal?

  1. if he was divorced                

  2. if he’d spent time in jail           

  3. if he was fat           

  4. all of the above

7. What kind of work is Kathleen doing now?

  1. Writing a children’s book    

  2. Editing a children’s book    

  3. Writing letters     

  4. Nothing

8. Who does Kathleen say started her on her current work?

  1. Joe Fox 

  2. Her keypal 

  3. an editor 

  4. children

9. When is Kathleen going to meet her keypal?

  1. Saturday at noon 

  2. Saturday at lunchtime

  3. Saturday at 4 p.m.  

  4. Tomorrow

10. Where is Kathleen going to meet her keypal?

  1. At Riverside Park                    

  2. At 91st Street     

  3. In a garden

  4. All of the above  

Appendix C--A Pre-viewing assignment on e-learn

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT for November 22, posted on the e-learn platform of National Tsing Hua University

Dear Students,

On November 29 we will watch a video that has to do with American Thanksgiving Day. In order to enjoy the video more fully, you need to know some background information.

I have listed three websites below. The first one is a serious site (from Encarta) and the information is probably reliable. The second one (brownielocks) is more fun but may not be 100% reliable (and I found a grammatical error). Use these two websites (or others if you like) to find answers to the following questions if you don't already know the answers.

1. When is Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the USA? When is it celebrated in Canada? Why do you think the dates are different?

2. When did Thanksgiving Day become a holiday in the USA?

3. What event does Thanksgiving Day celebrate/commemorate?

4. What kinds of foods do Americans typically eat on Thanksgiving Day?

5. What other activities might take place on Thanksgiving Day?

6. Who was Miles Standish? What was his relationship to Priscilla Mullins and John Alden?

Next week in class I will ask you about these questions at the beginning of the class. Then we will start with the text of the video (it's a 25-minute cartoon) and also learn a Thanksgiving song.

The Websites:

On the following site, you can read the whole of Longfellow’s poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish”. Just take a look; you don't have to read it. It’s long and hard and something you might read later in American Literature class.

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