There are hundreds of ESL vocabulary books produced every year, but frankly, I think few of them are particularly useful. ESLnotes, however, is a truly practical approach to aggressive vocabulary acquisition, based on the ideas that people internalize languages more easily when they are already familiar with what is being said. Thus, ESL students who read the synopses before seeing the accompanying film should dramatically increase their level of comprehension, which in turn should greatly increase the quantity of words and cultural references that will enter their long-term memory.
Actually, the psycholinguistic concepts upon which ESLnotes are based have been discussed in ESL education for years. If interested in this subject, I suggest you read a book called The Input Hypothesis by the noted linguist Stephen Krashen. He wrote this book in the early 1980s, but it seems that few people have bothered to effectively exploit the pedagogical principles that he so eloquently articulated.
Why don’t you have more hi-tech interaction with the actual movies?
There are some ESL teachers and even companies that break up movies into small sections, and then have students “interact” with the movie in order to teach ESL vocabulary or grammar. This is certainly a reasonable approach, but I believe that the most efficient way for ESL students to learn great amounts of vocabulary is to seriously study the synopses first, and then sit back and watch the entire movie all the way through. Real movies, like real life, are not broken into pieces.
Are the synopses really free?
Can you believe it?! Until further notice, you are more than welcome to download and print out any or all of the synopses. Yes, these guides require quite a bit of work to produce, but that’s not your problem!