Project: The five-minute movie sequence

Ian Munby, part-time university instructor in the Sapporo area



Quick Guide

  • Key Words: Super kakushi, peer-teaching, viewing task sheet, discussion task sheet, movie presentation, discussion prompts, distractors
  • Learner English Level: Lower intermediate to advanced
  • Learner Maturity Level: University
  • Preparation Time: Designing example listening task may take 60-90 minutes
  • Activity Time: 45-90 minutes
  • Materials: Listening task sheets prepared by the teacher and by the students. Be sure to carry a super kakushi and some tape in your bag. A super kakushi is a strip of black paper used to cover Japanese subtitles on movies. The best way to make one is to take an A3-size photocopy with the lid of the copy machine open, and trim to 8-10 cm. in width. Fix it to the bottom of the screen with tape.)

This project combines four elements often considered important in the promotion of motivation and effective language learning. The first is the movie or film clip, which provides authentic, entertaining, and motivating language and cultural input for the development of listening skills and a discussion springboard for the development of interactive skills. The second is the project, which allows for students to focus on topics (in this case movies) which interest them, to work autonomously in preparing materials for classroom use, and to develop or harness their creativity. The third is confidence building, or empowerment of the learner, through the peer-teaching activity. Finally, the following sequence of activities allows for practice of all four language skills, with emphasis on listening and speaking.


Step 1: Do one or more sessions in which students practice answering questions for video movies using viewing task sheets designed by the teacher (see Appendix 1). The aim of the practice sessions is to (a) expose the students to a variety of question types which are suitable for focusing on video comprehension, and (b) show students how the comprehension activity should be handled.

Step 2: Give each student a project explanation sheet (see Appendix 2).

Step 3: Invite students to make groups of three, and arrange dates for their movie presentations.

Step 4: Before the presentation, inspect the group's viewing task sheet (and discussion task sheet if available), correcting any language errors or recommending alterations before making copies for the class. This is best done the week before but can be done immediately prior to the lesson.

Step 5: The presenting group stands before the class and introduces the title of the movie, tells the genre, and provides information relevant to the plot, the context, and the characters. Interaction with the audience is encouraged at this point, e.g., Has anyone seen this movie? Do you like Tom Cruise?

Step 6: Copies of the viewing task sheets are distributed to the class.

Step 7: The presenting group plays the sequence or part of the sequence.

Step 8: Students in pairs discuss answers. Then Step 7 is repeated.

Step 9: The presenting group checks the answers with the class and plays the sequence a third time, if necessary, to highlight any problematic points.

Step 10: Discussion. Discussion prompts, or questions related to the movie sequence can be written by the students or by the teacher (see Appendix 3). If the students do not provide satisfactory discussion prompts, I dictate some of my own, which I think up during the viewing stages. The students write them down and exchange papers. I then write the prompts up on the board and the students check each other's writing. I have the students award each other a score at this stage: three points for each correctly written question, half a point is deducted for each spelling mistake, and one point is deducted for each incorrect, missing, or extra word.

Step 11: Students ask and answer the questions in pairs.

Step 12: Invite students to provide feedback on their discussions, either orally or written.


In my experience with this project, I have encountered several problems. To begin with, teaching roles, or time spent leading the class by each presenting group member, have not been shared equally, with some presenters remaining largely silent. In addition, some viewing task sheets written by the students contain distractors, which are inappropriate to the extent that it is possible to guess the answer before viewing the video. I have also had to train students in how to elicit answers from the class, as in Who knows the answer? Please raise your hand. Finally, many of my students have not produced good discussion prompts, perhaps knowing that I will always do this for them and do it better. On the positive side, there have been steady improvements in all of these areas with each presentation, the students enjoy it, and so do I.

For further ideas on teaching with film clips, refer to the teacher's resource book Film, which includes some photocopiable activities. However, students should be reminded that films and film scripts are subject to copyright laws and cannot be duplicated without permission from the producers.


Stempleski, S., & Tomalin, B. (2001). Film. Resource Books for Teachers series. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Appendix 1

From the movie Jack and Sarah


How old is the baby? 13 14 15 weeks

The baby is a BOY GIRL

How does Jack like his hamburger? RARE MEDIUM WELL DONE

He asked her to heat up the baby food. YES NO

Did he make the baby food himself? YES NO


How many times did the man touch the waitress' backside? ONCE TWICE THREE TIMES

She thinks the baby has nice EYES HAIR

The waitress' name is MARY AMY SALLY

Jack says the baby's name is _______.

She says the baby is GORGEOUS FABULOUS


How much is the bill for the couple who left without paying? $7.50 $17.50 $27.50

The beer-drinking men are sitting at table number 4 5 6 7

The waitress was fired YES NO

Appendix 2

The movie project

  1. Make a group of three students
  2. Choose a five-minute section of a movie on DVD or video.
  3. Choose a day to do your presentation.
  4. Make one page of viewing questions which are not too easy and not too difficult.
  5. (Optional) Include 5-10 questions for class discussion after viewing the video.
  6. Show me the first draft of your question paper one week before your presentation day so I can check it.
  7. On your presentation day, give me the second draft before the lesson and I will make copies for the whole class. Don't forget to bring the video or DVD with you.

Appendix 3

  • Do you like hamburgers?
  • Have you ever worked as a waiter/ waitress?
  • Did you have any bad experiences?
  • Have you ever had any contact with babies?
  • Do you think a penalty should be given for this kind of sexual harassment?
  • If so, what kind?