Using films to teach English can be an integral part of effective learning. English is much more than just spelling, grammar and punctuation. Watching films help develop critical comprehension and analysis skills. Here are some tips if you want to teach English through films.

Hold class discussion previous to the film viewing. Use films in English classes to help students visualize the meaning of an idea. If you want to teach a student about streams of consciousness, it might be a good idea to show a Fellini movie and talk about abstract versus realism, for example. Be sure to have an effective preview discussion.

Develop a film check list. Help students focus on specific areas by developing a guideline check list for them to follow while the movie is playing. Experts refer to this practice as "while-viewing." It helps students develop their critical thinking skills. Check lists may also be used as a platform for other lessons later.

Have periodic discussion breaks. Be sure to let students ask questions about what they have seen to increase both their listening and speech skills. Students must organize their thoughts in order to ask questions aloud. Have them draw parallels to their own lives.

Wrap it up and conduct a through review after your film is over. This is commonly referred to as "post-viewing," which is a similar technique used in many literature and English classes. Improve students' summary skills by having them give an overview of what they have seen and talk about why it might be relevant to them. Have students extend their thinking beyond simple "I liked it" or not.

Use a public library card to get good films. Some schools just do not have a good selection of movies. It is not necessary to use your Blockbuster card to find decent movies for your students to watch.

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  • Be sure to check with both parents and school administrators before showing students sensitive subject matter.
  • Get other teachers involved with your lessons. Students will retain more information if educators integrate lessons thematically.


  • Don't show anything without watching it yourself first. Make sure your films are age-appropriate.

About the Author

Vaughnlea Leonard started her professional writing and editing career in 2005. Her work has appeared in "Press Journal," "Atlantic Publishing Company" and "Hometown News and Florida Today." A former military police enlistee and Florida certified educator, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.