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Movies for ESL Students

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

In this lesson, you'll learn how popular movies, short animations and television commercials can be used to promote written and oral fluency in ESL students. You'll also find some sample questions that can be used in follow-up activities.

Using Movies in an ESL Class

Movies can help to promote fluency in your ESL, or English as a Second Language, class because they encourage students to engage in active listening. While not necessary, movies can be shown with English subtitles, so students can listen and read at the same time.

The use of movies in an ESL class cannot only promote fluency when listening and reading, but also serve as the basis for written and oral activities. Below are some activities that you can use alongside movies and television commercials shown in an ESL class.

ESL Movie Activities

Popular Movies and Quiz

When showing popular movies to ESL students, it is important to choose those that are rated as 'general audience', or 'G', to accommodate students from diverse backgrounds, including those based on religion, culture and personal beliefs. You may also want to check with your school librarian when choosing your films. When selecting a movie, consider its length in relation to the amount of class time available; most feature films run about two hours.

As a follow-up, activity, have your students complete a 10-15-question quiz. Questions that require long answers get your students talking or writing. However, question content and format will depend on the class level, such as beginning, intermediate or advanced.

Examples of movie quiz questions are as follows:

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