[Letters] Classic movies find new audience in English learners

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[Letters] Classic movies find new audience in English learners

English news, popular songs and movies are commonly brought up as the examples of “living” English sources which benefit English learners in many ways.

English movies are able to feed English learners tasty expressions which have deep contextual connotations based on a certain cultural setting.

Especially movies recreated from classical literature are full of artistic expressions and everyday idioms.

And also luckily, those movies with classical backgrounds tend to contain less vulgar scenes because our many great “conservative” movie directors had to live much more “conservative” times whether they really wanted it or not.

Well, it may be true some old classical movies may not be as popular as modern movies with their many fantastic movie-making techniques and visual devices.

And they also may look “too simple and too naive” to satisfy many “professional” movie critics and young movie directors.

But I am sure the time will come faster than they can expect when the old, naive and simple story-lined movies which didn’t satisfy them will now truly satisfy many long-term minded English learners just because those old classical movies don’t have any horror scenes, nudity or any too-extreme scenes.

Why is this?

The “too simple and too naive” movies will satisfy many parents and future parents who start collecting “clean,” living English resources for their future kids.

Many old movies already have firm classical story lines based on authors like Tolstoy or Jane Austen that no movie critic dare challenge.

Many old movies also have great background music whose composers are everlasting musicians such as Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven that not any modern music critic dare make any negative comment against.

And the “old” movies have more attractive and stronger power to seat every family member from father, mother, sons and daughters all together from the beginning to the very end for about two hours until the movie has its closing titles.

During the film, none of them had to worry about when a bloody horror scene will show up, when out of nowhere murder will be revealed, when out of somewhere man and woman will come into a room in silhouette and when on Earth an ugly alien will invade a peaceful village.

The old and naive movies will surely stop right before the bloody scenes, will not say any vulgar words, won’t have exclusive live rooms only for a man and woman in an affair and will never have aliens that are too ugly, but surely have quality English conversations, expressions, and sometimes SAT & GRE level vocabularies as a bonus as well.

And all of these benefits are possible because the old movies didn’t contain the extremes like horrors, too viciously vivid descriptions, nudity, aliens and abominable animals.

If there are modern movies with just a few extreme scenes, those movies may also become “born-again” movies for many English learners.

Just cut out the extreme scenes which would probably have taken at most not more than 5 percent of the playing time.

There are many English learners who will consider buying the “reborn” movies for their English learning.

And don’t forget to put on the DVD a ribbon tag saying “No extreme scenes included. Still good for English learning.”

And one more thing, are these naive, old English movies just educational?

I would rather say that the old movies not only had both top entertaining and aesthetic records in the past and steady-entertaining power now but also still have second-to-none English teaching power to any level of contemporary English learners from children to grandparents.


Lee Kyong-kun,

researcher on European studies, Incheon

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