Film & Cinema

“The cinema is really built for the big screen and big sound, so that a person can go into another world and have an experience.”

David Lynch, American film director
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This free ESL lesson plan on film and cinema has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Going to the cinema to see the movies is something everyone loves. We all have our favourite genre of movie, whether that be superhero movies, thrillers or romantic comedies. But nothing beats seeing those films on the silver screen. These days, however, people complain that the cinema is far too expensive, and perhaps they prefer to watch films on streaming services in the comfort of their own home. In this ESL lesson plan on film and cinema, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their favourite films/movies, favourite actors and the role of cinema in society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Global Movie Day, which takes place in February to coincide with the Oscars. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Empire | Cinemas Aren’t Dead, They’re Hibernating

In the article, the editor-in-chief of the magazine talks about what cinemas mean to her in the backdrop of the problems facing the cinema industry due to the global Covid pandemic. While many people are saying that the cinema is dead and won’t survive this pandemic, the author believes cinema is simply hibernating and will make a strong comeback. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Do they think cinema will survive the Covid pandemic?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “What is cinema for?” by the School of Life which makes the argument that film and cinema can provide psychological therapy to us.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the best and worst films the students have seen, why sequels are never as good as the originals and what makes a great film.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with film and cinema such as live up to the hype, star-studded and spoiler. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about film and cinema. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the influence films and moves can have on people’s lives, whether or not going to the cinema is worth the money and films from their own country.


After the class, students will write a film review for a movie they have seen. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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