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McFarland, USA
McFarland, USA

Learn English in this 'McFarland, USA' movie ESL lesson

Date: Feb 27 2015

Themes: Celebrity, News, Pop Culture, Sports

Grammar: Count and Noncount Nouns


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

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2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

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It’s not an unusual plot. A teacher comes into a school whose students are fighting adversity. The teacher finds a way to build a relationship with the students, to encourage them to be successful, and to shed some light on how they’re special. It may sound like a typical feel-good movie, but is it possible that “McFarland, USA” is more than just a cheesy story?

While it might sound like a hokey film about helping the underdog, “McFarland, USA” has a bigger message. In a world where many immigrants move to new countries to be safer or find better jobs, this movie could help us to talk about finding ways to accept each other. After all, we all need the same basic things, and everyone wants to be part of a community.

Brian and Marni disagree about “McFarland, USA” and how good it will be. Learn their opinions in today’s English lesson about a new movie.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Marni:  Gosh. You know what? I just watched this preview for this new movie, “McFarland, USA.”

Brian:  The new Disney movie.

Marni:  Yes.

Brian:  Doesn’t that look like the new feel-good film of 2015?

Marni:  I’m not so sure about that. If you mean, the new, cheesy, feel-good movie where the white person comes and saves the immigrants. I don’t know.

Brian:  Yeah, I’m sure it might be very hokey. But don’t you think it’s nice that it could shed some light on immigration, and maybe encourage at least a dialog?

Marni:  I would certainly hope that is was what would happen. But my fear is people will just overlook that whole thing, and just look at it as this sports movie where this white guy comes and saves the kids and they run really fast…

Brian:  Come on. It’s people dealing with adversity. An underdog story. What’s not to love there?

Marni:  I love that you see all these positive elements in it. I just can’t escape the cheesy aspect of it.

Brian:  If you’re crying by the end of the movie, you have to buy the popcorn.

Marni:  OK. It’s a deal.


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Marni and Brian are talking about the new movie, “McFarland, USA.” Marni doesn’t like that it seems to tell the story of a white man coming into a small town of immigrants and making their lives better. She thinks that it’s wrong to make a film with that message.

Brian hopes that people will see past the fact that “McFarland, USA” isn’t very original. He likes that the movie is about working through difficult situations, and he hopes that it will start more conversations about people living in the US who came from other countries. Brian believes that everyone loves a good movie about an underdog, and he thinks that Marni’s going to like it, too.

Will you see “McFarland, USA”? What do you think is the message of the movie?



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 It must not be easy to leave our homeland and emigrate to another country. It will take a lot of time to  readjust  to a new environment, different language, food, social conventions,discrimination, the need for a job , health care, to be accepted by  the  society  at large. Not always people  are open minded ( as Shoba is thinking) and if possible will find a way to let us know that we are not welcome . This is my personal point of view , and not necessarily  i own the truth . Maybe others can tell a different story.  



Sri Lanka

Well, I might watch this movie if I feel like having a good cry.

I’m not sure, but I think the message of this movie could be about accepting immigrants with an open mind and acting as one.





You don’t need to be a teacher to help others. I’ve seen some teachers who do more harm then help.




Well said , not an unusual plot . Another tear shedding film .It reminds me of an old  British film …” To sir with love ” starring Sidney Poitier, a teacher that had to deal with social and racial issues in an inner-city school.  If Marni finally  sets her mind to watch this film she shouldn`t forget to buy a bucket of popcorn and  a box of kleenex  to wipe away  her tears.

Is this film cheesy ? probably , but i would have to see it to give a valid opinion.  

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