[Eric Bray. Nan’un-do: 2012. (Including CD and teachers’ manual.) p. 70. ¥1,900. ISBN: 978-4-523-17708-1.]Reviewed by
Movie Time! is a classroom textbook written for Japanese university students, but it can also be adapted for high school students. Unlike traditional high school English textbooks, it is student-centered and is designed to improve learners’ speaking and writing skills through entertaining activities, consistent with MEXT’s New Course of Study Guidelines (2018). Watching movies is an integral part of learners’ lives, making it an engaging approach that teachers can use to create learning environments where all learners can enjoy and become active participants (Dörnyei, 2001).
Movie Time! is also an ideal textbook that incorporates Nation’s (2007) four balanced strands: meaning-focused input, meaning-focused output, language-focused learning and fluency development, requiring effective participation in both speaking and writing activities through active listening, vocabulary, and grammar learning. The textbook consists of 16 units. Each unit focuses on a particular topic, such as talking about movies you have seen, talking about movie genres, and talking about your reaction to a movie. The first two pages of each unit can be used for language focused learning such as vocabulary or pattern drills, and the last two pages of each unit for meaning-focused output as well as fluency development. The core of this textbook is the Movie Journal on the last two pages of each unit. Movie Journal directs students to write a movie journal by asking five questions about the movie they have just watched in the classroom. Except for units 15 and 16, each unit follows the same format with different templates. Unit 15 provides five steps to guide students to write a movie review. Unit 16 provides a list of movies for students to watch so that they can write their movie reviews.
I used this textbook teaching a Basic English course in my high school for a 100-minute class per week. After discussions, writing practice, and explicit drill instructions in each lesson for about three months, all students were required to give a 2-minute individual presentation at the end of the course as their performance test.
Firstly, I used the first two pages in each unit to teach vocabulary and pattern drills for oral activities (e.g., talking about values and customs) before asking students to practice speaking in pairs or in small groups. Thereafter, I let students watch a section of a movie I had chosen (e.g., The King’s Speech). They formed groups to have discussions and answer questions in the Movie Journal section. This is a very typical class following the teacher’s manual.
In addition to the textbook, there is a CD and a teachers’ manual. The teacher’s manual provides detailed suggestions, lesson plans, learning activities, and answer keys for each unit. The manual is helpful to native English teachers in providing Japanese pronunciation for instruction. The CD includes audio for simple pattern drills and vocabulary as well as English instruction (e.g., please answer the following questions) which is very supportive for Japanese English teachers.
Finally, most of my students said that they think the book is very useful because they learn how to write a movie review step-by-step. Some students said that they started to think about the cultural differences and historical backgrounds of the movies they watched. Other students said that they liked the template in each unit asking them to create sentences by themselves instead of filling in blanks as usual in their regular English textbooks. However, there are also some suggestive and negative comments about the book (e.g., “Learning could be more fun if there are more colorful illustrations in the book,” and “I did not learn important grammar from the book”).
The weakness of the book is that the grammar presented is appropriate for oral practice but too simple to be used in standardized tests for high school students. Under test-based educational rules for Japanese high schools (Crook, 2003), teachers must test English knowledge with a 100-point-item grammar-translation exam at the end of each semester. In order to meet these requirements, I used another grammar textbook as supplementary material.
Despite of the weakness of using this textbook under a traditional test-based context mainly focusing on the rules of language, Movie Time! provides enjoyable material for learners to acquire speaking and writing skills through appealing activities. It does not only provide meaningful input but also stimulates interaction, discussion and critical thinking. Therefore, I recommend this textbook to English teachers and learners outside of a traditional English-learning context who want to acquire language in a natural way.
Crook, G. (2003). Developing a philosophy of teaching. In A practicum in TESOL: Professional development through teaching practice. Cambridge University Press.
Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667343
MEXT’s New Course of Study Guidelines (2018). https://www.mext.go.jp/content/1421692_2.pdf
Nation, P. (2007). The four strands. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 2-13. https://doi.org/10.2167/illt039.0