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Can You Think Of A Funny Movie/TV Scene Where A Bilingual Character Uses Two Languages To Get Out of Trouble?

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I know this is a long shot, but I’m wondering: Can you think of a funny movie or television scene where a bilingual character uses his/her two languages to get out of trouble?

I’m preparing a lesson on the value of bilingualism (which I’ll share in this blog), and I’d love to include this kind of video clip. I’m thinking that there’s got to be a scene like this in a Jackie Chan movie, at least. Even a Star Wars-like movie where the character speaks English and another language that doesn’t exist in the real world would work.

I would forever be in your debt if you can help me out with this.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

19 Comments

  1. Can’t think of such a scene off-hand although I imagine a scene where someone manipulates two monolingual speakers of different languages exists somewhere. There are a lot of funny scenes where lack of bilingualism is exploited, like in Goonies at the beginning where Corey Haim is supposed to tell the Spanish-speaking maid how to clean and instead tells her there are dead bodies in the cellar (or something like that).

  2. Of course, two languages could mean knowing the jargon of today’s technology. For a hilarious example, please see the two Ronnies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dmhF1rqaZk. Students (ELLs) ate it up when I used it.

  3. In “So I married an Axe Murderer” Harriet and Charlie are walking around when a group of men make rude remarks in Russian and Harriet gives it back to them in Russian.

    In “If Looks Could Kill” a French teacher is mistaken for a spy and uses language skills alot, can’t think of a specific scene.

  4. This one is not about being in trouble but in an argument. In Strictly Ballroom, the girl is trying to get a guy to dance with her for a competition. He is an accomplished competitor and she’s just a beginner. She starts yelling at him about how afraid he is and spouts out an old adage in Spanish – “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”

  5. Thanks for all the suggestions!

    Larry

  6. A friend suggested “I Love Lucy,” and an episode that might work for you is called “Paris at Last.” Here’s a brief synopsis, copied from http://www.lucystore.com/episodes/season5.html:
    Lucy is taken to jail and demands to call her husband and Ricky comes to help her. The police will ask Lucy questions and will line up various people to translate down the line to Lucy. The first sergeant speaks only French. The next cop in line speaks French and German. The next person in line is a prisoner who speaks German and Spanish. Ricky is next in line with his Spanish and he’ll translate the questions to Lucy in English.

  7. In Fools Rush In, the male lead doesn’t speak Spanish while in Mexico, but the Mexican character messes with him by not explaining what a tranvia is for several minutes.

  8. The whole film “L’auberge espagnole” is about bilinguism. A French student stays in Barcelona for a year to study. There he lives together with a German, an English, an Italian and a Spanish student. They communicate in English and Spanish.
    In “4 weddings and a funeral”, Hugh Grant translates the sign language of his brother for his former girlfriend, but not correctly when it comes to her body.

  9. I use a Youtube clip called “The Importance of Being Bilingual” that uses a cat approaching a fish bowl. The fish then scares it off by barking. In fact, I just used it as part of a class on languag diversity this week :)

  10. Might need an edit at the very end.

  11. Here are my two favourite scene from “L’auberge Espagnole”:
    1) Wendy trys to tell a French mother that her son is not at home.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCGuwifAgDE

    2) Xavier’s interview.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt48ci0Et1o

    And the translation from sign language to English in “Four weddings and a funeral”:
    http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=7232

  12. In “Spanglish”, there is a funny scene where a little Spanish girl translates what her mother says to her English boss. The daughter imitates her mother’s intonation and gestures except when the mother says something which doesn’t suit her. It is an argument scene but it shows very well that relying on a translator always causes powerlessness. You can see bits of the scene I’m talking about in the trailer but I’m afraid the video is not on youtube :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXkSBXrdDxs

  13. In fact the full film is on Youtube, and the passage is in part 5 :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MiidAXbZa4&feature=related

  14. I had not realized that you posted in July and that I was late, sorry for that…

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