Teaching with Film and Video

Students really enjoy watching movies and TV for a variety of reasons. For one, they get exposure to natural language in a non-threatening setting. Secondly, movies and video provide common ground to students of any international background.

Below you'll find both general teaching resources as well as fully-developed lessons on various films and videos. So, pop yourself some popcorn and settle down in front of your computer for some fun with movies.It doesn't matter if you have contemporary office furniture, patio furniture or grandma's castoff furniture. Any chair will do.

Ideas for Using Movie Previews

Rent any video, and you're bound to get at least three or four previews before the feature film. Here are some ideas for how to put them to work.

Movie Lessons

Each movie featured in this section includes both classroom worksheets and links to specific materials about the movie. While some of the classroom worksheets promote discussion, others focus on specific vocabulary development or listening tasks. Though these lessons were designed for advanced level students in a film/culture class, they could easily be adapted for use with other groups. Depending on which materials you decide to use, expect to spend between three and seven hours on each film.

Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 suspense classic.

For plot summaries, reviews, images and more great material to use with this movie, visit the International Movie Database's page on Vertigo.

Bonnie and Clyde

Arthur Penn Warren's 1967 masterpiece.

Classroom handouts for this movie include:

For plot summaries, reviews, images and more great material to use with this movie, visit the International Movie Database's page on Bonnie and Clyde.

All the President's Men

Alan J. Pakula's 1976 dramatization of the Watergate scandal.

For articles, transcripts and much much more check out the Washington Post's Watergate site. (This is the web site for the Watergate Fact Finder.)

Visit the International Movie Database's page on All the President's Men (1976) for reviews, quotes, links and more.

Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee's inspired 1989 take on race relations.

For plot summaries, reviews, images and more great material to use with this movie, visit the IMDB's page on Do the Right Thing.

Dead Man Walking

Tim Robbins' 1995 look into the life of a death row inmate.

For plot summaries, reviews, images and more great material to use with this movie, visit the IMDB's page on Dead Man Walking.

Video Lessons

East of Krakatoa

  • East of Krakatoa (Ring of Fire Part 2): Before You Watch - Questions for small group discussion. If you're familiar with the Ring of Fire video series, then you know it's mysticism at its finest. Two brothers, Lawrence and Lorne Blair spent ten years trekking through Indonesia and chronicling their life-altering experiences. You can rent the video from many alternative video stores in the US. Part 2 is 52 minutes long, so I suggest a minimum total of five classroom hours to complete all the exercises. Recommended for advanced-level adult students.
  • East of Krakatoa (Ring of Fire Part 2): Pre-viewing Vocabulary Exercise - Expect students to spend approximately 60 minutes on this pair discussion/vocabulary exercise.
  • East of Krakatoa: After You Watch Discussion Questions - After students finish watching the video, you may want to have them do a brief free-writing (no prompt needed, just tell them to react to what they've seen) before they get into groups to discuss these questions.

Classroom Handouts

  • Film Survey - This survey will give you a general overview of the types of films your students are interested in. If you're teaching a film class, or if you plan to use films consistently over the course of a term, you can start here (Classroom Handout).
  • Film Reviews (In-class Assignment) - After watching a film, students get the chance to practice their presentation skills by being film critics. Though this worksheet was designed for use in an advanced level film class, it can easily be adapted to suit lower levels in an integrated skills curriculum (Classroom Handout).
  • Internet Scavenger Hunt: Movies - A WWW activity for intermediate and advanced level students. Students learn how to use the International Movie Database, find scripts and screenplays, and more. This lesson will take at least 60 minutes (Classroom Handout).

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