5 Film and Series quotes that help us become better teachers

Most of us cannot watch a film or an episode of our favourite series without trying to identify scenes that could be used in our lessons, right? Even if we just want to Netflix and chill, it just seems to be hardwired in our brains. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of my favourite quotes from some of my favourite films and TV series, to check how they apply to the English teaching context.

“You know nothing, Jon Snow” (Ygritte, Game of Thrones)

No matter how much you already know about teaching, learning to teach is an endless journey. And that is especially truth when it comes to teaching, simply because in every cycle (academic year, semester etc.) we’re faced with something new and crucial: our students.

Whether you teach one-to-one or large groups, learners are never the same, and every new encounter is an opportunity to know more about them, about what makes them tick and how to teach them more effectively.

Just like Jon Snow had to learn all the rules, conventions and habits of the wildlings when living amongst them, we should be able to adapt to new contexts, new learner needs and profiles.

“What you wanna do isn’t necessarily what you’re gonna do” (Gia Gunn, Rupaul’s Drag Race)

Lesson planning is one of the most vital skills for any teacher. Any pre-service qualification (and most in-service ones) will rely heavily on planning stages and activities in a coherent and logical way. But life isn’t really logical, is it? Not only should teacher know how to design lessons, but also help when to simply let them go when in learners’ best interest.

The ability to put your plan aside and surf in the wave of what students come up with is a crucial skill when using TBL or Dogme, but a lot of learning can come from small digressions and a healthy dose of side-tracking.

Unlike reality competitions, though, divergent needs and desires don’t necessarily have to come together with pot-stirring and conflict. It may actually be a factor for group cohesiveness.

The truth is out there” (Scully and Mulder, The X-files)

A lot of relevant and useful material is designed for classroom use and we (as an industry) can’t live without them. Fact. On the other hand, our students (more often than not) need to have contact with “real-life” language and communication, and authentic materials are an endless source of relevant content and contextualised language. There’s just so much stuff that the challenge is actually curating the content.

Luckily for us, our students themselves can do most of the hard work. Rather than trying to anticipate students’ needs and trying to find all materials ourselves, why not allow students to research and bring relevant content to the classroom?

Teachers can also explore what is out there for their own professional development. There are so many free resources and sources available online nowadays! Check out this list of relevant materials for teachers we’ve compiled to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

We are definitely not alone in this universe, and our favourite FBI agents would know that.

We have to go back!” (Jack, Lost)

We should never assume that learners have mastered the use of certain language items just because you’ve taught them. The learning process isn’t a straight line, and it can be an erratic and seemingly messy process. Students don’t simply go from pre-A1 to C2 by amassing knowledge in a sequential and logical manner (wouldn’t that be easy?).

Therefore, it is important to design courses and activities that will allow students to revisit what they have learned in previous lesson, and this could come in a number of ways: homework, projects (as in PBL), remedial work, feedback on the use of previously learnt language etc.

Unlike Jack and Kate, however, we can go back without fearing being stuck in a rut with people, bears and The Others trying to kill you.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner” (Johnny, Dirty Dancing)

Despite any differences in personalities, abilities and background, every single little student matters! Classrooms can be intense and working with large groups can up the stakes, bringing a whole new array of challenges and opportunities. It is the teachers’ duty to ensure that equal opportunities are provided to our learners, so that all of them can achieve the best results possible.

This means that we must be able to manage the classroom, the interactions and activities in order to encourage an even participation of learners. Adding a variety of interaction patterns, monitoring effectively  and devising learner-centred tasks and activities (think guided discovery, por example) can go a long way in making up for some differences in personality.

But we can never forget our responsibility towards the well-being of learners. We should be making a conscious effort to welcome and integrate learners with special education needs, LGBTIQ+ students, learners from different belief systems, socio-economical background, skin colours. More than protect minorities and prevent bullying, we must create an environment where everyone can flourish and thrive.

Just like the differences between Johnny and Baby make their relationship more exciting, a diverse learning environment can certainly lead to more valuable lessons (for all of us).

What about you? What are your favourite film and series quotes and how do they apply to our professional context? Id love to hear your ideas!

Rubens Heredia

I'm a co-founder of the blog whatiselt.com and an Academic Coordinator at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, where I'm responsible for course design, teacher training and e-learning initiatives. Having transitioned from a BA in Law to becoming a DELTA holder and a CELTA and ICELT tutor, I'm currently taking an MA in TESOL at NILE (University of Chichister). I'm also the proud owner of a whippet, a cat a fish and a rabbit!

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