Resources for teachers of English to support film in Junior Cycle English
The addition of film to the new Junior Cycle is an exciting development. It acknowledges the importance of film and media in young people’s lives and reflects the intention of the curriculum to be relevant and enjoyable for students today. It also highlights the fact that the concept of ‘text’ has now several interpretations and these go beyond the conventional written form. For today’s learners, literacy, as outlined in the National Strategy for Literacy and Numeracy, concerns the ability to ‘read’ written but also visual and digital texts. By broadening the English curriculum to include visual stories and narratives, young people will have an opportunity to critically engage with these ‘texts’ as well as enhance their visual literacy skills in a classroom in which the language of film and media are as current as the written and spoken word.
One of the principles of the Framework for Junior Cycle is Continuity and Development. Research has shown that media literacy is an accumulative skill, and young people start to acquire the skills of reading visual narratives from a very early age. They have the opportunity to engage with film and media through media studies in primary school and also through exciting initiatives such as the FÍS Film Project. The inclusion of film in Junior Cycle English will facilitate the continuation of this learning and development of skills.
Film lends itself to the learning and teaching styles identified in the new Framework for Junior Cycle such as group work, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The films prescribed for Junior Cycle English cover a range of topics, but are also of different genres and styles, and offer a valuable alternative to mainstream film thus enhancing young people’s experience of film as an artform.