How to Use Whole-Movie ESL Lessons at Movies Grow English

Whole-Movie ESL Lessons in Detail
at Movies Grow English

Below is a detailed five-minute dissection and explanation of a representative whole-movie ESL lesson found at Movies Grow English. The innovative design is consistent across all lessons, transparent, and unobtrusive, ready to accommodate a variety of teaching styles. Each of the more than 100 interactive ESL lesson follows the same sequence as the movie. Once the tapestry of this simple architecture is understood, it becomes easy to identify the same elements among all whole-movie lessons in this curriculum. Portions of whole-movie ESL lessons can even be copied over to new documents to create infinite possibilities of abridged or Short-Sequence lessons.

Anatomy of a Whole-Movie ESL/EFL Lesson Page 1

Anatomy of a Whole-Movie English ESL/EFL Lesson, Page 2

Anatomy of a Whole-Movie ESL Lesson: HTML

1. Movie Poster (like all MGE content) is high-def, full color, photocopies well, looks crisp on overhead projection, or e-media.

2. Title, Year of release, Rating (1-4 stars).

3. Focus On is an additional reference point.  The story in AVATAR parallels colonialism on Earth.  Other movies focus on music, sports, the legal system etc.

4. Summary, MPAA Rating, Movie Length help with movie selection.  A movie should match student demographics (gender, age, ethnic origin, education, English level), available class time. Summary signals genre (e.g. action) and story preview.  MPAA Rating is at  162 min. means 162 minutes (two hours and 42 minutes).
    Anatomy of a Whole-Movie Lesson-cover page
5. Preview Prompts initiate discussion and help students activate vocabulary and syntax for a productive viewing and learning experience. The number of movie quotes anf Academic Word List items is also included here.

6. Movie Quotes help students mimic pronunciation, attitude, and style.

7. Vocabulary (in context) Prompts include words from Academic Word List (AWL*), jargon, slang, and vulgar words in the sequence they are experienced in the movie.  Jargon teaches students a cultural sub-genre (e.g. legal system).  Slang is everyday words of natural speech.  Native speakers of English may use vulgar words for emotion and attitude. 

ESL students must recognize how and when we articulate vocabulary expressions (social context, level of formality).  Movies offer a true-life glimpse.  Thus, students gain valuable awareness of appropriate language expression.

8.In-Progress Questions are good places to stop the movie and react, with opportunities to discuss a recent aspect of the movie including vocabulary, description of a scene, detail comprehension, inference, or opinion.

Anatomy of a Whole-Movie Lesson-sample page

 9. Take-Away Questions can be for ALL or small-group discussion.  Students are prompted to summarize the movie (or an important aspect), describe a favorite character, or express an opinion.

10. Essay Question is based on content and structured around rhetorical style (e.g. summary, compare/contrast).  Teachers may instruct students to support their thesis with specific examples. 

Teachers might prefer to use a different essay question.

11. Websites usually include the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) page for the movie, and an official site if available, or a Wikipedia link.  Over time, links are lost.  Please notify MoviesGrowEnglish if you experience this.

Anatomy of a Whole-Movie Lesson-"I See You."


With Whole-Movie English Lessons the heavy lifting is doneWhat's on the page is in the same sequence as what's in the movie.  When previewing, use a lesson as-is, or adapt it.  As with chapters from a textbook, you may prefer to skip over some material.  E.g. you may wish to focus on the Academic Word List while skimming other vocabulary. It's a good idea to verbally expand on vocabulary prompts before showing a movie. 

For Whole-Movie comprehension and vocabulary questions, see Assessments (A-K)(L-Z) at the MENU BAR on the left.  Each lesson has ample content to expand the assessment if desired.  The Movie-Vocabulary and Academic-Word Lists (MENU BAR) are splendid resources, cross-referencing all the vocabulary in all the movies.  Imagine the possibilities!

Because Whole-Movie English Lessons are sent electronically (.pdf), they can be manipulated to suit your agenda and teaching style.  Text from any lesson can be selectively copied over to another document, rearranged, and edited before distribution.

A short-sequence lesson can be created based on a chosen movie segment, by copying over only the relevant content and images. Movie Quotes from a lesson could be turned into a Who-said-What? quiz, game, or acting competition.

In my experience, ESL teachers tend to be highly creative people.  I sincerely hope that you, as a member of this elite group, will create new ways to use this shared-access tool.  Please share your ideas at:
my e-mail address

Thanks for your interest in Movies Grow English.

"Watch movies, learn English."