A film or DVD based lesson (any film)!

24 Jun

It’s the end of the school year at the moment and most of my classes have been badgering for “Movie, teacher! Movie!” for some time.  Resistance would seem to be futile….

Basically, what they want to do is sit down and watch a film for the entirety of the lesson, “practising” their listening skills, but otherwise doing nothing.  The pedagogical conscience within me rails against this – no!  they must do something useful!  But let’s face it, at the end of the day, sitting around watching subtitled movies but otherwise doing nothing is how most of them will use their English as time goes by….  so you could justify doing just that?

Or not, because of course our role as teachers is to help learners access the content of movies in English, and just sitting their watching them isn’t necessarily going to help them do that any better!

This lesson won’t necessarily help learners do that any better either, though it does contain a prediction task and a comprehension check at the end, so it stands a better chance of doing that than doing nothing….

And it’s incredibly simple and can be adapted to use with absolutely any movie at all!  So go for it!

What you do:

Before the class do a google image search for “name of movie + screenshots” and make a handout of jumbled images taken from stretched out moments of your film.  Put them on your first handout in a random order.

This handout then forms the predictive task – can the learners identify the film?  Any of them seen it before?  What happens / what do they think is going to happen?  If the class is strong enough, learners can work together in pairs to write a 50-70 word plot prediction summary.

While they watch:  they check against the handout to number the images they see in the order that they appear during the film.

After they watch they can compare and check the sequence of images with each other / get full feedback.  They can also compare their plot predictions with what really happened.

Also after they’ve watched the film, you can give them a comprehension task based around the plot synopsis.  Before the class, look up your target film on either wikipedia or the IMDB or your personal favourite film review site….  Copy the plot synopsis from the site (being careful to credit the originating source) onto another handout.  Then gap the handout – remove key plot elements / events / characterisations.  In essence this should leave you and the learners with a “skeleton framework” plot summary.  Working together, the learners can then complete the summary from memory.

Note of Caution:

Check the copyright laws in your country to be sure your use of proprietary images / texts / display of the film is legal or seek the advice of your director.

Also, on a personal note, I hate it when I don’t get to watch the last fifteen or twenty minutes of a film because the class has ended and we ran out of time.  Using the tasks as given above will probably add 30-45 minutes to your run time, so make sure your film will fit into the lesson time!  You might be better off with a 30-45 minute episode of a TV show if you have something suitable available (that your learners won’t have seen / be bored by!).


4 Responses to “A film or DVD based lesson (any film)!”

  1. soheila Wednesday 29 June 2011 at 18:27 #

    it was good.but i dont know what is the best way for watching film.i watch a lot of american films but unfortunately i dont know what should ido after watching.how many times should i watch a film.please give me sme advice.

    • David Petrie Wednesday 29 June 2011 at 19:14 #

      Hi soheila,

      Well, the easiest thing to do after watching a film is to talk about it – what you liked or didn’t like, what you thought of the story, characters, locations and so forth. It’s the simplest way of checking if your understanding of the film is similar or not to other people who watched it. If you are on your own, maybe you could write a brief review or summary of the film and then look at online review sites to compare your ideas to those of other reviewers.

      I guess if you watch a film and really like it you can watch it more than once! If you are only watching for language learning purposes, then I wouldn’t “overwatch” a film – you’ll probably get bored! Maybe twice at most?

      Does this help, or did I misunderstand your questions?

      All the best,



  1. efl-resource.com » ELT news feed » “We wanna watch a movie…!” - Tuesday 28 June 2011

    […] Petrie explains how you could make watching a film in class a more interactive language experience. I tried a different approach with an intermediate class and a BBC documentary, which I’ll […]

  2. “We wanna watch a movie…!” | efl-resource.com - Friday 20 January 2012

    […] wanna watch a movie…!” Posted on 28 June, 2011 by Simon Thomas David Petrie explains how you could make watching a film in class a more interactive language experience. I tried a different approach with an intermediate class and a BBC documentary, which I’ll […]

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