And the Oscar Goes to: How to Learn a New Language through Foreign Films

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Every February, Hollywood Boulevard shuts down and traffic backs up for miles as Tinseltown celebrates its most prestigious annual event: The Academy Awards. Spotlights illuminate the night sky and camera flashes rain down upon the Hollywood elite as the best films of the year compete for that elusive and handsome gentleman known only as Oscar.

Since 1956, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded the “Best Foreign Language Film” Academy Award. The first to take home this prize was the legendary Italian filmmaker, Federico Fellini, for his neorealism classic, La Strada. This incredible achievement changed the landscape of foreign films forever.

Foreign Films Soar to Record Heights

As the decades pass, the number of foreign films submitted to the Academy continues to grow. In 2013, a new record was set as 71 foreign language films were submitted for consideration to be nominated for an Academy Award. As the 2014 ceremony draws near, this record has once again been broken as 76 films, all from different nations, are in consideration for the upcoming January 16 nomination selection.

The popularity of foreign language films is growing in staggering numbers as audiences flock to these transformative tales. Providing audiences with amazing storytelling and stunning imagery that American viewers aren’t accustomed to, foreign language films entice moviegoers to broaden their cultural horizons and partake in learning a new language through film.

How to Learn a New Language through Foreign Films

Foreign language film provides us an accessible way to transport us to the great unknown and offers a unique possibility on how to learn a new language. There was a time in which only a handful of foreign language films would visit theaters a year and only for a short amount of time. Now, multiple foreign films can be seen virtually every month of the year in theaters across the country. This provides the audience the ability to hear the foreign language in practical use in context.

1. Use the Subtitles

Generally, foreign films released in America contain subtitles that translate what is being saying into English. For the most part, an average moviegoer will use this text to simply enjoy the story. However, these subtitles can be used as a tool to help you understand the native language being spoken by the movie’s performers. With multiple films being released in the same language annually, using subtitles to help you learn a new language in one film can help you translate the dialogue in another.

2. Use the Performance

Along with subtitles, it is imperative to study the actor’s physical cues as they perform to help you understand the meaning of the foreign words. Pay close attention to the visual language, and soon you will find yourself understanding the meaning of the words without having to read them on the screen. This will help you understand the language as it pertains to emotional situations and the major events transpiring on screen.

Film is truly an ever-evolving art form. As more films become available, audience members seeking a means on how to learn a new language are embracing the myriad of upcoming movies. If you are seeking an exciting new endeavor, then it’s time to call lights, camera, and action on the worthwhile task of how to learn a new language.

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