English in real life situations

picture of movie theatre
02 May SAV 1 Comment

Here are ideas for using films in the classroom so students can see English applied in real-life situations. When playing a video, you do not want the students just sitting around like vegetables. You must integrate the students into the lesson. They always learn better when actively engaged in the process and not spoon-fed. Get the students to do the work.


Pre-Class Task


  • Ask students to each find a movie trailer and come up with three questions about the trailer.

The first question must be a language question, such as what does the man say before he pulls out his weapon?

The second question is an observational one, like what color is the dress, what kind of dessert did the couple share?

The third question is about the film, who is the main star and costar, where does the film take place, or what is the name of the movie?


In Class

  • Make teams. First, show the questions.
  • Next show the trailer once or twice.
  • Then total up points after checking answers for both teams.
  • Move on to the next trailer.


  • The trailer should be no more than a minute. Usually, trailers are three minutes long, show only the first minute and the questions have to be answered from the content in that first minute.
  • If you use all three minutes of the trailer, have three students prepare nine questions for it.
  • If you find a film that is a hit among the class, you might use bigger chunks of the film for a future lesson.


Most of all, do not spend your precious time looking at movie trailers to try to satisfy your students. Let the students do the work, and you guide them.

Check my games books for lots more ideas! Primary school and Teen / Adult activities.


Having trouble finding movie trailers and excepts that you can use? This question is relevant to you!

"I'm an English teacher from Belgium and it's my first year teaching. I bought your book "ESL classroom activities", it's helped me a great deal!

I am contacting you regarding the activity "movies-using previews and excerpts, movie game 9: watchers and listeners". I've just started teaching English to adults who have quite different levels, ranging from lower intermediate to upper intermediate. The activity seems very interesting, and I've watched different movie trailers but all of them seem too difficult and fast. Would you by any chance have movie suggestions?"

period drama movie picture



1. Go for slower paced films, in British English, such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and any period drama genre.


2. Avoid action movies where people spend a lot of time yelling at each other, and most of the time even native speakers have no idea what they are saying let alone students of English as a second language!


3. For that particular game using movie excerpts, remember that your students will be watching the pictures as well, so they will have some idea of what is going on from that, even if they don't understand every word. On the other hand, in some movies people just talk too fast, even I have trouble understanding them!


Movies like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, in British English, with actors like Colin Firth, Judy Dench, Emma Thompson  - those British actors who speak clearly.  Go on, please give me some younger actors with great diction in the comments box! That's one thing...and secondly, try Period Drama as the category - those films are more sedate, unlike comedy, where dialogues are too fast and contain too much slang.


In addition, you could show the trailers with subtitles in English, so your students hear the English, and read it, plus they have the pictures.

If you got this far in the blog, and you know a great movie suitable for the classroom - please stick it in the blog comments. THANKS, we teachers will all thank you.


Try searching under Great British movies - on Google, or Youtube.



Great post! Thank you Shelly!

Leave a reply

Follow blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Join 2,672 other followers

Blog categories