How suitable are movie reviews for use as ESL/EFL teaching and reading materials?

Milica Vukovic Stamatovic, Vesna Bratic

Abstract


Finding adequate and interesting content is a challenge teachers and writers of foreign language learning materials frequently come across. In this paper, we evaluate how suitable, vocabulary-wise, movie reviews are for English language teaching and learning purposes. Employing the method of lexical frequency profiling, we study a 1.3-million-word corpus of American movie reviews, and find that a knowledge of about 5,000 words is needed to achieve the minimum reading comprehension level (at 95%-vocabulary coverage), whereas as many as 13,000 words are needed for reaching the ideal reading threshold (98%-vocabulary coverage). We conclude that, non-adapted, movie reviews as a genre are only suitable for advanced learners. In addition, the study shows that movie reviews are not an excellent source of formal vocabulary, but are an excellent source of opinion vocabulary, and we therefore suggest that the teaching and learning target in terms of vocabulary for movie reviews in ESL/EFL contexts should be on positive and negative words expressing opinion.

 


Keywords


lexical frequency profiling; reading comprehension; movie reviews; vocabulary coverage; word lists

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