12 Jan 2012

From the screen to the classroom. Part 2.

Last week, I introduced the amazing work that some great teachers are producing to work with films in the English class. They are really inspiring to encourage other teachers to create their own video activities and improve their teaching practice.

This week, I would like to concentrate on different techniques we can use to plan our lessons based on films. Any ideas you would like to add or share? Please, contact me! I will post them in the blog.

How to use them?
We can resort to the old way bringing a film, pressing play, watching it for the whole class and asking students to answer some questions about the film or write a summary of it. But have you wondered if there is any point in approaching the learning of English in such a way? Are you sure your students have learnt something in that lesson?
I think that a more sensible idea to work deeply with films in our classes is to select a short film scene (3 – 4 minutes) and divide the lesson in three parts, including pre-viewing, while-viewing, and post-viewing activities.
Previewing activities are really good to arouse the students’ interest to the film clip they are going to watch.
  • Vocabulary: pre-teaching some words which appear in the video and may be unfamiliar to students is essential to avoid interruptions and questions during the viewing process.
  • Brainstorming: this is a great technique, and very student-centered. We can use visuals, trailers or film scenes and ask students to speculate about the scene’s details such as the characters, the plot or the setting.
  • Predicting:
    •  You can provide students with a handout with some facts about the film and they have to predict if they are true or false.
    •  You can create a series of screen shots with Vidinotes or just with Paint and ask students to predict what the story is about or what the characters may say.
While-viewing activities: they provide a deeper understanding of the film, and allow to check if students.
  • Predicting: the students check if they were right or wrong in their previous predictions about the film.
  • Imaging: freeze the scene as something is going to happen and ask students to work in group and try to deduce what will happen next. Elicit from the class what happens.
  • Jigsaw predictions: divide students into two big groups and sit down back to back in two rows. Only students in group B can watch the video, while students in group A will be able to listen to the video only. When the video ends, the teacher asks students in group A to interpret the meaning of what they have heard. Once they have finished reconstructing the story, students in group B tell students in group A what actually happened.
  • Video ON/ Sound OFF: play the film scene, but this time with the sound turned off. Ask students to write a short narrative text predicting the content of the scene. They do this activity in small groups. You can show them some questions on the overhead projector or on the digital blackboard to guide them. Once they have finished, they read their stories and vote for the funniest story. After that, they watch the scene with the sound on to know what really happened.
  • Ordering events: play the video and distribute a worksheet to students with a series of events from the video. Ask them to put them in order, as they happen in the film. The students watch the video a second time to confirm the correct order.  
  • There is no need to leave grammar out of a video-based lesson. We can use sentence examples which appear on a video to introduce a grammar point and ask students to deduce the rules and uses planning different kinds of activities. How we teach grammar is really important since grammar is necessary so that students achieve accuracy in English. So, we need to be creative and produce student-friendly, student-centered activities which develop students’ curiosity in how English works. You will find a lot of ideas in Claudio Azevedo’s blog Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals
  • Production of the next scene script: ask students to write a dialogue between two characters of the movie which take place after the part of the video they have previously watched. To do this, they can use some free web 2.0 tools:
  • Writing a movie review for the school (online) newspaper.
  • Discussion group activity: ask students to choose sides around the topic introduced in the video and take a in-favour/against position from others in the classroom to debate it.
  • Watching videos can also enhance some pronunciation aspects which students have difficulties with, such as connected speech, word stress and sentence intonation, among others. They are a really good source of authentic listening material.
This is my lesson plan sample on excuses and relationships using the film scene I found in Claudio Azevedo's blog. 

View more documents from Inma Alcázar
Some websites where you can find videos and information about films to create your own activities:
If you found this post useful, you may also like:


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More