A multimodal approach to teaching business English through films. A case study


Audiovisual products, due to their intrinsic multisemiotic nature, in which each mode contributes to meaning making, have widely proven to be ideal material both for research purposes and for teaching. This is especially the case of films, which, despite their fictional character, have often been used in the context of language learning. As the concept of multiliteracies has become pivotal in language teaching, the use of films reflects a multimodal approach that can help students learn to exploit modes beyond verbal language (e.g., visual, gestural, spatial) to both understand and produce texts in the target language more effectively. This becomes particularly important in situated communicative contexts where domain-specific discursive, pragmatic and cultural features can create significant obstacles for language learners. The present paper focuses on a particular type of specialised discourse, i.e. business discourse, and intends to explore the ways in which films can be utilized as resource material in the English for Business and Economics class at the university. Some clips from a film representing this domain and with relevant communication exchanges that portray different business contexts and genres will be analysed both on the verbal and non-verbal level through a multimodal annotation software. This allows for the integration of verbal and non-verbal cues (e.g., gaze direction, hand/arm gestures, etc.) to show how a multimodal approach can actually help students to interpret a message, especially in ESP contexts.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v29p511

Keywords: film; multimodality; ESP; business English; language teaching


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