Teaching Young Learners

And… Action: Let’s teach English with Cinema


I have always believed that teaching language can mean nothing or something depending on how we use our power as educators not only to teach language, but also to make a difference in our students’ lives.

Art and Cinema have the power to transform our classrooms and make our lessons memorable and meaningful for our students.

Teaching with films and through films is something we do a lot in our school. This can be done in two ways. You can base lessons on films (short films or feature films) and prepare pre-watching, while-watching and after watching activities or you can actually produce films in the classroom! I have noticed that students, study and learn when they are motivated, and they are motivated when they care. Films, images, have a power to engage you in the learning procedure and make students care, so they learn. Moreover, when students make a film, they are absolutely holistically engaged in the procedure; even weak students learn and use the language meaningfully.

Text by: Elizabeth Veliou

Let’s see a few ways of using films in the classroom!

  • Films can be used as texts, instead of texts. You can teach almost everything with them, same way you would do with any other text. You can use films to introduce a new topic, new language or new structure, to provide an extra learning experience to support your current lessons or even to assess the extent to which your students have acquired language skills and mastered what you have previously taught them.
  • When it comes to upper-intermediate and advanced levels, I really enjoy engaging students in the production of short films. A great idea is to have students write scripts for their own short films. There is a preparation to do that. You teach them some basic scriptwriting conventions, the shots, you can do comprehension exercises to check their understanding, and then move on to the production of the actual script. Last year, I did that when I taught my students synonyms of walk, laugh, say, run, look. They wrote their scripts and had to use those words when they described how the character felt, or what the character did.
  • Of course, you can have students produce their own documentaries to practice topic vocabulary and speaking skills, or self-portrait videos. Cinema and video tasks can help you create many exam-like tasks in disguise.
  • You can ask students to retell the story from the point of view of two different characters.
  • When using a short film with no dialogue, a great idea is to have students make speech / thought bubbles for the characters.
  • A nice idea to practice past tenses is to ask students to write a 'flashback' scene for a film that tells us more about a character and his/her life.
  • Finally, you can ask students to create a poster to advertise the film and present it to their classmates!


Art, and Cinema in particular, can provide great inspiration for our lessons. Most importantly, they can help you make a difference in your classroom.  Dealing with the seventh art, liberates and makes students, especially teenagers, think out of the box, make connections and delve into complex topics.

Teaching and cinema have to do with experiences. Experiences create memories. That is what a good Education is for me. Creating great memories that last forever for our students.