Everybody Loves Movies

film1.jpgYour students will cheer when you wheel a television into class. They will be slightly less excited when they realize they have to do some task along with it…but it will still be a hit if done well. Movies (usually) provide more interesting listening practice, and can be adapted to also include reading, speaking and writing.

I’ve used Shrek (find some excellent activities for it here), Groundhog Day, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and a few episodes of Friends in full, and clips from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, the Mummy and The Importance Of Being Ernest.

Some tips and resources:

  • Don’t just put the video in and go: give some tasks and check that everyone is following frequently. People may say they enjoy just watching, but they don’t need to pay to come to an English class for that. Different tasts might include questions to answer (write general questions and have students guess the answers before watching) or vocabulary words to listen for (He’s a few _______ short of a load) or put in order.
  • Consider showing shorter clips with tasks instead of the whole film; a 90-minute movie will take 180 minutes if you add questions or tasks. One of my favorites shorter tasks is having half of the class watch two or three minutes of the film with the sound off and describe what they see to a partner. The partner has a list of several words which are “in” the movie and has to check them off if/when their partner says them. The pair with the most words checked off wins. Or, students watch the film without sound, write a dialog for what the characters are saying, and then act it out with the film running…so they provide the voices for the characters.
  • Give some thought to subtitles. I wouldn’t use local language subtitles unless there is a very good reason for it (perhaps for lower levels in conjunction with some English language task). English language subtitles are better…but students will get more practice reading (easier) than listening (harder).
  • Choose films carefully. Some slang or vocabulary will need to be explained, and some may just come up if it’s in the film. In one of the episodes of Friends I’ve used, Ross runs into the bathroom with a dollhouse which is in flames and we hear Monica scream. Later, she says “By the way, I was just…checking the shower head.” This went over the heads of most of my advanced students, but one of them did ask. Another student said she’d understood…but declined to explain. As did I.
  • For additional activities, have a look at the Video section of Dave’s ESL Café’s Idea Cookbook and the first and second pages of ESL base’s articles “10 Ways To Use Videos In Class.” Happy movie watching!