Learning English through the Seventh Art

As someone whose life has been impacted by both, movies and the English language, putting those two elements together in an editorial note brings joy to my heart and a big smile to my face. I’ve learned new words and vocabulary from gangsters, practiced my pronunciation with cops and detectives and I definitely fell in love with English as main characters of movies were falling in love on screen.

The seventh art, as Italian film theoretician Ricciotto Canudo baptized the process of movie-making back in 1911, became a mainstay in my home from early on and has remained as such through my adulthood. Canudo argued that cinema was a new art, “a superb conciliation of the Rhythms of Space (the Plastic Arts) and the Rhythms of Time (Music and Poetry)”, a fusion of the five ancient arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry. He later tagged dance as the sixth precursor, making cinema the seventh art.

Never underestimate the impact that movies can have on a person, as I clearly remember the first time I watched both “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” on back-to-back viewings as a teenager while wanting to understand what the actors were saying. Later on, following Al Pacino’s and Robert De Niro’s careers, I discovered “Scarface” and “Goodfellas”, which had the gangster theme in common with the two aforementioned movies. Since the main characters in 3 out of 4 of those movies were U.S. immigrants of Italian descent, they spoke in English with heavy Italian accents, even using Italian words mixed in with English words; this, along with the inflection of the Italian-American New York accent, was put front and center in those movies (“Scarface” had Pacino speaking English with a thick Cuban accent), which made me want to widen my horizons and learn about different types of accents within the United States.

I learned to appreciate the way the actors spoke while giving their performances and came to dislike the dubbed versions of movies to Spanish. In my eyes, a major part of an Academy Award-winning actor’s performance came out through his voice, and it could never be matched or equaled by a voice actor locked in a recording booth while dubbing Pacino’s or De Niro’s voice in some studio for Spanish-speaking audiences that were, either too lazy to read subtitles or too indecisive about wanting to learn how to speak and understand English.

For me, that was the turning point in my life and movies, along with music, became the driving forces behind my constant thirst for more and more knowledge about that beautiful language that became a passion in my life, the English language.

Now, through the magic of technology, there’s a full catalogue of movies that people can access without ever leaving their homes. Thanks to paid services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even Disney Plus, along with free streaming services all over the Internet, people can watch any movie or t.v. show (past or present) that they desire, while expanding and enriching their cultural horizons through English.

In KOE, we take pride in the fact that people get to practice their listening skills through our Listening workshops and through the Listening Practices app that our platform offers. You can pick up a lot if your hearing is acute enough, but nothing will beat the interaction that you can have with other people while talking in a language other than your native one. That’s the advantage that KOE gives everyone through its monitoring sessions and workshops.

We hope you too get motivated through the seventh art and make the decision to take the plunge into the KOE English pool in order to become a new speaker of the language.

Alfredo E. Clark.


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