Harry Potter is one of the most well-known movie series of our time, entertaining children, adolescents, and adults alike. Its amazing actors, music, and plot make people watch these movies again and again.
So, why not use these fantastic films to motivate your students to learn English? As a teacher, there are hundreds of things you could do to exploit these materials in class, from working with vocabulary or grammar to pointing out cultural differences or regional accent varieties. Keep on reading and discover how to teach English using Harry Potter regardless of your students’ proficiency level!
Point out at Different Accents
Harry Potter is a British film and almost all the actors who speak English as their mother tongue speak British English, but this doesn’t mean that they have a homogeneous accent. The English spoken in the British Isles has dozens of varieties that go from Irish and Welsh to Cockney and Estuary English, so it is important you point this out to your students.
For instance, Seamus Finnigan has an Irish accent, which shows in his pronunciation of “mother” with an “o” instead of the sound in “cut”:
On the other hand, Oliver Wood speaks Scottish English. Different from the Received Pronunciation spoken in London, the Scottish variety is rhotic. This means that people pronounce the “r” in words like “chasers” or “keeper”. You can find some examples here:
Argus Filch, the school’s caretaker, speaks Cockney, an urban accent in London. Some of his speech’s features include using “I ain’t” instead of “I am not”, dropping the “h” and pronouncing the “l” as a vowel in some cases, as in “milk” (miuk):
Plus, there are many characters who speak English as a foreign language, such as Viktor Krum (who comes from Bulgaria) or Fleur Delacour (who’s French), so it’s very interesting to analyze their accents not only in terms of sounds but also when it comes to intonation.
Select Relevant Vocabulary to Your Students’ Level
Selecting vocabulary that’s appropriate to the learners’ level is crucial for them not to feel bored if they already know what you are trying to teach, or frustrated if what you’ve chosen goes beyond their comprehension. If you need some help with this aspect, you can always use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which has six levels (from A1 to C2).
Let’s take a look at an example using Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. When learning how to cast the spell Wingardium Leviosa, Professor Flitwick claims that one of the most important things is to enunciate well. Otherwise, the process can have disastrous effects.
Why not take advantage of this chance to teach your intermediate or advanced-level students the meaning and use of “to enunciate”? You can ask them to conjugate the verb into various tenses such as passive voice, use reported speech, or even teach the differences in meaning or usage with synonyms like articulate, utter, vocalize, or enounce.
Ask Follow up Questions Related to the Movies
Learning vocabulary is always more memorable when done in context. Students are more likely to remember what the verb “to enunciate” means if you try and relate it with something else that happens in the series. For example, Harry had to go to Diagon Alley but doesn’t enunciate well when using the Floo powders and ends up in another (very creepy) alley.
So, why not ask your students to think about other instances when Harry, Ron, or any other character doesn’t enunciate well in the series? The same applies to other vocabulary items you are working with.
These are just some ideas you can use to teach English with Harry Potter. Use them in class and soon you’ll see how your students achieve fluency as if by magic! As Albus Dumbledore wisely claims, “differences of language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open”.
What about you? Do you use movies or TV series to teach a language? Share your favorite ones below!