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Know Your Movie Cliches

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For this lesson, I used "Erland's pages of film cliches" at
(this is the address at the top of the page I printed; if this address
doesn't work, just go to yahoo and type in cliche, and it will be one
of the choices).

Sometimes, when you watch a movie you feel like you might have already
seen it, usually because of film cliches: things that happen over and
over in movies. I usually start this discussion out with an example or
two, such as "Creatures from outer space speak English" or "All the wires
in a bomb have different colors so that the hero can easily differentiate
them when he has to cut the right one. This way, the hero can be told
over the phone which wire to cut." Then I ask the students to supply
some cliches that they have seen in movies, giving them some prompts
from time to time like "How about cars? What things do you always see
with cars?" Because ESL students often have seen a lot of commercial,
popular American movies, they often can come up with interesting
examples of cliches. You can always take this further by talking about
nationality cliches ("how are Russians portrayed in movies?"). After
some discussion, you can share some of the information from the internet,
or have students go look it up IF they have the computer technology
available. You can work a few film clips into this lesson if you like,
or else just do it without video. It's an excellent way to tap into
American culture and to discuss the power of the media.

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