My Dream Team ESL Syllabus of Social Issue in Current Film

bowling_for_columbine.jpgIt should be no surprise to TEFL Logue readers that I like my social issues. I also enjoy using film in class, though I don’t do it nearly as much as I’d like to. For these reasons, I’ve come up with my dream team ESL syllabus for, I don’t know, a course on Social Issues In Current Film.

  • No Man’s Land – an Oscar-winning Bosnian film presenting soldiers from opposite sides stuck in a trench in a sometimes surprising, sometimes humorous way, and the international community in a less-than-flattering light.
  • Born Into Brothels – American photojournalist Zana Briski makes a documentary of her own experience teaching photography to children of prostitutes in Calcutta.
  • Fast Food Nation – enough said here.
  • Bowling for Columbine – Michal Moore is over the top too, but worth watching, even if I think his overzealousness may harm the cause he says he supports.
  • An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore, good guy, helps the environment. Perhaps in connection with the IHT article about the Live Earth concerts.
  • The Constant Gardener – Ralph Fiennes’ wife vanishes while uncovering the work of a big bad pharmaceutical company.
  • Czech Dream – two film students promote a fictional hyper-market with ads saying “Don’t come!” “Don’t spend!” and see if anyone turns up. And they do. It’s about consumerism.
  • I know, I know, what school would put up with my propaganda (I’m lucky Bootsnall does!), not to mention that three of these films have substantial non-English dialog. That is why it’s a “dream team syllabus”. I do think though that films and issues like these, much like the news stories on Breaking News English, can be real to students and can inspire genuine discussion.