How to Use ESL Movie Worksheets to Create Show-stopping Lessons

Remember the excitement you felt as a child when your teacher wheeled the TV into the classroom?

Knowing you were able to take a break from boring old lessons to watch a movie was a rare treat.

A treat that we all remember fondly.

I specifically remember the day when we got to watch “Titanic” in English class. We were all so excited to watch it that we ended up ignoring the bell and staying after school to finish the movie!

You can recreate that same excitement with your own students by bringing movies into your classroom.

That doesn’t mean just sitting back, relaxing and mindlessly watching some TV. With the right worksheets and lesson plans, you can run some engaging activities to get even more out of your movies.

How to Use ESL Movie Worksheets to Create Show-stopping Lessons

Ask any class what activities they like to do in their free time, and the subject of watching movies is bound to come up. So, it’s no surprise that movie lessons go down a storm in ESL classes.

They provide an opportunity for students to combine their hobbies and interests with their studies, which makes it much easier for you to get them to stay engaged and motivated. They’re also a great excuse for ditching your usual lesson format and using video or listening activities instead, and the subject matter will also be a welcome change.

Students will appreciate the chance to deviate from grammar and other traditional academic subjects and do something more interesting, but that doesn’t mean they won’t learn anything. In fact, movies are perfect for teaching vocabulary. Each time they watch, students will pick up new expressions that they don’t usually hear, such as slang and idioms.

These lessons can also be very timely if you stay on top of the latest releases. There are plenty of ESL websites out there to help you do that. They come up with new movie worksheets and activities, so you don’t need to.

Where to Find the Best Movie Worksheets

You don’t have to spend hours on end creating your own worksheets for your movie lessons. There are tons of them already out there on the internet, which you can use free of charge. Here are five of the best places to find them.

  • ESL Galaxy: ESL Galaxy has specific worksheets for a few different movies, including “Harry Potter,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “Castaway.” They cover a range of language skills, from simple vocabulary exercises to story writing activities.
  • ESL Kids World: If you teach young learners, this site is perfect for you. It has a selection of movie worksheets for some of the best kid’s movies of all time, including “Shrek” and “Jurassic Park.” You can play either the full movie or a selection of short clips, and let students answer questions on worksheets as they watch. This way, they stay engaged and entertained while practicing English at the same time.
  • This site has some good worksheets for getting movie-related conversations going. Students can use them to discuss different movie genres, review movies, pick up some new vocabulary and even nominate movies for awards. These worksheets are good for students who struggle with conversation, as it gives them a way to get talking freely while still having a structure and something to fall back on if they get stuck.
  • Learn English, Feel Good: Learn English, Feel Good has a selection of video-based movie activities. Students can watch trailers for movies like “Foxcatcher,” “Ant-Man” and “Spy,” and follow up the video clips with some ready-made listening comprehension questions to check their understanding.
  • ESOL Courses: Here, you can find a huge range of movie worksheets catering to different types of language and skill levels. They range from beginner to intermediate, with word banks, reading comprehension activities, word searches, listening quizzes, matching exercises and more. No matter what age or skill level you’re teaching, ESOL Courses has something you can use.

5 Ways to Maximize Your ESL Movie Worksheets

So, you have some great worksheets, but how do you use them? It takes more than a few sheets to make a great class. Here are a few ways that you can flesh them out into full lessons.

1. ITESLJ’s Movie Conversation Questions

Use ITELSJ’s list of movie conversation questions to get your students talking in pairs or small groups.

It has more than 50 questions, with topics ranging from the last movie they saw to which movie star they’d like to marry. You don’t have to use them all though. Simply pick out the ones that are most appropriate for your class’ age and skill level.

This is bound to get your students warmed up and acquainted with the subject matter. Once they’ve finished chatting to their partners, you can then delve into some basic vocabulary. Start by asking students to brainstorm a list of movie genres. You can use this list to teach vocabulary about feelings by asking questions like “How do you feel when you watch horror movies?”

Have them run through all the genres, listing the emotions that are associated with each one.

With these questions, even the shyest students can get involved and improve their speaking skills.

2. Breaking News English’s “Black Panther” Lesson

“Black Panther” was arguably the biggest movie of the year, as well as one of the highest grossing movies of all time. You can guarantee that some of your students have seen it. Use that to your advantage with this extensive “Black Panther” lesson plan.

Breaking News is a favorite among ESL teachers because it consistently pumps out great-quality activities for current affairs, and this one is no different. However, you can’t just print it, hand it out to your class and hope for the best.

Start by having a fun debate about who the best superhero is. Students can talk in pairs about their favorite ones and try to decide who would win in a battle and why. This can lead to a conversation about “Black Panther” and why the movie was so popular.

The lesson plan contains a reading activity about this very subject, with a gap fill exercise, a synonym matching activity and a set of comprehension questions. To finish up, you can use the multiple-choice quiz provided.

3. British Council’s Film Review Worksheet

Everyone’s a critic, so why not have your students write their own film reviews?

To break the ice, ask your students to brainstorm a list of classic movies that they think everyone has seen. The answers they come up with will depend on the age group of your students, but can include anything from “Jaws” to “The Incredibles.”


They can use this list to ask each other questions with present perfect tense using the following structure:

“Have you ever seen __________?”

The next step is to elaborate by asking how they feel about these movies. You can do that with the British Council’s film review worksheet.

4. English Club’s Movie Worksheet

Talking about movies means using some words your students might not have heard before. Here are just some of the movie-related vocabulary you can cover:

  • Plot
  • Character
  • Cliffhanger
  • Blockbuster
  • Twist
  • Villain


You can teach these using English Club’s movie worksheet. Then, teach how to ask questions with them, such as “Who is the main character?” and “What is the plot?” Students can use this knowledge to play a guessing game. They can ask about their partner’s favorite movie and guess what it is from their partner’s answers.

5. Bogglesworld’s Movie Lesson

Bogglesworld is a fantastic resource for ESL teachers, and their worksheets for movies don’t disappoint. You can use their crossword and gap-fill worksheets to teach basic movie vocabulary, and their survey worksheet to get students to ask classmates questions about movies.

Once you’ve done that, hand out the “children’s animation reading activity” worksheet. Students will read descriptions of famous movies and try to guess the names. After that, they can write their own descriptions and challenge their partners. This way, you can get vocabulary, conversation, reading and writing all into the same class.

Movie worksheets like these bring an extra element of entertainment to your lessons, which will help you to keep your students engaged. Students learn more when they’re studying subjects they’re interested in, and in these classes, they’ll have fun and improve their English at the same time.

Choose Your Movies Wisely

Take it from me, always double check the content of a movie before you use it for your lessons.

I learned the hard way by making a terrible mistake in one of my classes. The idea was to watch a festive movie for a Christmas lesson, and I thought that “Love Actually” was a great, feel-good family choice. However, I’d forgotten about the subplot involving two porn actors. If you think that sitting through sex scenes in movies with your parents is awkward, try doing it with your students!

I was teaching adults, so it was of no consequence, but the last thing you want is to make the same mistake with younger students.

Check the dialogue. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to explain some curse words, or even some words from other languages! The multicultural storyline from “Love Actually” meant that my students listened to lots of Portuguese and French phrases, as well as English.

Oh, and if you need some help choosing the right video for your lesson, see our list of appropriate movies for ESL students.

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