ESL Discussion Questions About Movies

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn how to engage English as a Second Language (ESL) students through discussions about movies. This lesson will briefly discuss the benefits of using movies and strategies for implementing discussions in the classroom. Next, this lesson will provide specific discussion questions that can be used.

Using Movies as a Teaching Tool

Entertainment-related discussion topics, such as music, movies, and T.V., tend to motivate learners. Students often excitedly talk about the latest action and horror films, their favorite actors and actresses, and the most recent movies added to their Netflix queue.

You can use students' interests in entertainment to your advantage when designing lessons that will encourage ESL students to strengthen their English fluency. Let's look at some strategies for using discussion questions in the classroom.

Using Discussion Questions in the Classroom

There are several ways to incorporate discussion questions into your regular classroom routine. You can either have students discuss movies in general, such as their genre preferences and questions about movies they've seen recently. Alternatively, you could use discussion questions after showing a specific movie in class that connects to a lesson or theme the students are learning about.

Have students work with a partner or in a small group. Provide each pair or group with a set of discussion cards and have them practice asking and answering questions. You can make this a part of their regular routine. For example, have students work in discussion groups for the last ten minutes of class each day. This strategy would give them regular, repeated oral language practice.

The think-pair-share instructional strategy breaks down the speaking task into manageable parts. After the teacher poses the discussion question, students take some time to think about their responses. Sometimes it helps for them to write them down. Next, students pair up with partners, and the two discuss their ideas before sharing with the class.

Discussion Questions

Here are some specific discussion questions you can use in your classroom to help students develop oral language skills.

Discussing Preferences

  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is the worst movie you have ever seen?
  • Who is your favorite actor/actress?
  • What is your favorite genre of movies?
  • Do you prefer classic or contemporary films?
  • Do you like black and white films?
  • Do you enjoy animated films?
  • Do you like watching musicals?
  • Do you prefer reading the book or watching the movie?
  • Do you like scary/romantic/funny/action movies?

Questions About Specific Movies

  • What did you think about (movie)?
  • What did you like most/least about that movie?
  • Who was your favorite character?
  • Who was your least favorite character?
  • Did you like the ending?
  • What would you change about that movie?
  • What did you think about the acting?
  • What was your favorite scene?
  • Did you think the movie was too short/too long?

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