Almost everyone likes movies, and your ESL students are surely no exception.
You can take advantage of this interest. Integrate movies and movie activities into your normal classroom plans to keep your students interested and let them blow off some steam. Here are some ideas on how to do just that.
Try These 5 Movie Themed Activities with Your ESL Students
Whether you are just getting to know someone or have been friends for a long time, movies are fun to talk about. You can learn about pop culture, the entertainment industry, and what your friends like and don’t like. If you are preparing to show a movie to your class of if you just want to talk about the latest films, try these discussion questions.
- What is your favorite movie?
- What types of movies do you generally like? Why?
- What types of movies do you generally dislike? Why?
- What is the last movie that you saw?
- Do you see movies in the theater? Do you rent them? Do you subscribe to a movie service such as Netflix? How often do you watch movies these ways?
- Did you ever expect to like a movie and end up disliking it? Did you ever expect to dislike a movie and then like it? Tell me about it.
- What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it? Tell me about it.
- Who is your favorite actor/director? Which of his/her movies have you seen? Which is your favorite?
Movie reviews are a great way to gauge whether you will like a movie before you see it. That is if the reviewer is reliable. They are also a fun and short writing project perfect for ESL students. Start by creating a bulletin board titled Movies in Review. Tell your students that they will be writing movie reviews for movies that they loved and hated, and that these reviews will help their classmates decide whether to see a move or not. Have each person choose two movies – one that they loved and another that they hated. It’s best if each person chooses different movies, but it’s not essential. Then teach your students how to write a short movie review. The review should include each of the following.
- The title of the movie, its director and major actors and the type of movie it is
- A brief summary of the plot – don’t reveal the ending!
- What was good or bad about the movie – these should be specific. Don’t give general statements like, “It was exciting.” Give specific examples from the film if possible.
- A general recommendation – whether or not to see the movie and if it’s best for date night, guys’ night, or another event.
Once the reviews are complete, have students post their review along with a picture from the move or the movie poster on your bulletin board. When they have a few minutes, students can browse the movies on the bulletin board (the display serves double duty as a short reading assignment) and decide if they want to see a particular movie their classmates recommended or didn’t.
Movie Preparation, Movie Celebration
Many movies start as novels, and your students may enjoy reading an abridged version derived from a popular movie. Penguin Readers publishes contemporary novels for every level of ESL students. Reading these abridged books will give your students a sense of accomplishment while also providing entertainment. Before your class reads the book, you may want to hold a viewing of the movie. It will aid your students’ reading comprehension and help them absorb the finer details of what they read when they aren’t concentrating on plot. If you opt to not show the movie before your students read the book, think about a cinematic viewing to celebrate the completion of the novel. See The Movie-Novel Connection for ideas on using a movie with a novel in class.
Monster Movie Marathon
If you want to get your students out of the classroom and get their creative energies flowing, this might be the activity for you. In groups of about five, students will film their own monster movies and then screen them for the class. Since this activity is fairly involved, you may need to schedule several class periods to complete it. On the first day, have students plan their movies (see the scenes listed in session two) and decide which part they will play in the movie. Each group will need a government official, a monster, a hero and a person who needs to be rescued. The second session is the recording session. Every group member should have a speaking role in the film. Students should use a recording device (cell phones work great) to record the following scenes in order. (Recording in order eliminates the need to edit film.)
- The opening credits – make sure you give the name of the movie as well as which parts each student will be playing
- How the monster came to be and why it’s threatening the town
- The monster wreaks havoc in the town.
- The government official contacts the hero and asks for help.
- The hero faces the monster, but he cannot defeat him. The hero fails.
- The monster now captures someone that the hero loves.
- The hero must rescue the one he loves. He confronts the monster and defeats it.
- The government official thanks the hero and rewards him.
In the last session, students will view the movies their classmates created. Reserve a projector, pop plenty of popcorn and get ready for tons of laughs. If you like, have each student choose one movie to write a review of. (See activity #2.)
Of course, showing movies in the ESL classroom is always a hit with students. They enjoy relaxing for a bit and seeing popular movies. But in class movies don’t have to waste valuable class time. Use in class movies to do any or all of the following.
- Listen for comprehension questions/specific information: give your students multiple choice questions, short answer questions or an information gap activity
- Learn new vocabulary: preview the vocabulary with your students and then have them determine meaning from context
- Write plot summaries: review the important events in a movie and write them in sequential order
- Write character analyses
- Discuss the movie in small groups – talk about plot, character, and theme
You can find lesson plans for specific movies at ESL Paryland and other websites for inspiration or to use in class.
You don’t have to head for the big screen to enjoy a good movie.
Whether you are watching and reviewing movies or creating some block busters of your own, your ESL class will enjoy these activities that combine fun and function movies.
Do you integrate movies into your ESL class? What are your favorite activities?