Why do young Romanians speak English so well? New film explores the importance of motivation and interactivity in language learning

May 21, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
"Lessons from Romania", the second film in Daniel Emmerson's documentary film series "The Learning English Video Project", will be released free on EnglishClub.com on May 21st. The film will be available with and without subtitles along with classroom and self-study learning materials. Comments on the first film of the series, "Stories from Morocco", suggest that Emmerson's documentary is filling a gap in the English as a Second Language industry. "The Learning English Video Project" is the first documentary of its kind to investigate the industry from the learner's perspective. As one viewer wrote in response to the first film: "It doesn't only talk about English but also about other cultures, other people, how they face this language in their way."

When Emmerson and his co-producer Joel Carr arrived in Bucharest, they were immediately energized by the "phenomenal" level of English. This caused them to focus on the question, "Why do young Romanians speak English so well?" In the opening sequence of Lessons from Romania a native Romanian English teacher explains how the end of the communist period brought with it a major shift from traditional methods of teaching to a more communicative approach. While the change has been mainly positive, there is some concern that important building blocks from the Grammar Translation system are now missing. Teacher Joanna Stoicescu says that young students are very fluent but they "tend to have problems with stuff like grammar and vocabulary."

It is evident from the film that young Romanians possess an enthusiasm for the English language that goes far beyond the classroom. Following their trip to Romania Emmerson wrote in his blog: "Over the course of our trip, we learned a great deal about the process of learning English and how it differs from place to place. However, a common source for practising and learning English seemed to be listening to music and watching films." Hundreds of readers responded to the blog entry by sharing their own favourite English films, musical artists and authors. In "Lessons from Romania" interviewees discuss this passion for English music and television and describe how these media provide important opportunities for self-learning. As one learner explains, even the "Romanian bands sing in English." As with "Stories from Morocco", the film closes with upbeat learning advice from learners and teachers. As self-taught teacher Alecs Ripeanu says: "If you like learning English, do it for its own sake."

"Lessons from Romania" and the entire series will eventually be available on DVD for educational purposes. The second film runs just over twelve minutes, contributing to the total series length of 2 hours. Pre-production for additional films in China and Brazil is now underway.

"Lessons from Romania" and classroom materials: