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How to Create ESL Film Activities: Part 1, Love Actually

Updated on October 5, 2011

The Inspiration for ESL Videos

Coming up with ESL activity ideas can be difficult. While working with movies for ESL can be time consuming, Here is an ESL movie lesson plan on the movie Love Actually I've created, to cut your planning time.

Why do I want to share my ESL film worksheet?

As a former ESL teacher in Spain, I know what it feels like to be thrown into a classroom and told to “just make them talk”. Scary. Sometimes, there isn't even a concrete ESL lesson plan for these teachers. Of course, the goal is to get them to communicate, but there is no strategy in “just making them talk”. We need to talk about HOW.

I realize that many ESL teachers are not instructors by training, and that this may be their first and only teaching opportunity. Some might not even care how well they teach, as long as they are getting paid. Whatever the motives for teaching, the job still has to be done, and most new teachers need a little help to do it. For that reason, I will present in this series basic ESL activities that new teachers can use and adapt. I will start with film, because one of the hardest skills as a new teacher is to keep students engaged, and putting up ESL movies does some of the work for you!

The First Movie Lesson

Actually Loving ESL Classes

Teaching ESL conversation classes (especially at the secondary school level) allowed me to focus on listening and speaking strategies. The focus in these classes is ESL listening comprehension and English speaking skills, while shying away from grammar instruction. In my situation, I was lucky to be an assistant, so while the master teacher provided lessons on grammar and vocabulary, my job was to reinforce what they had learned at a conversational level.

The best-received lessons that I did usually were tied to culture (specifically my home culture). And they loved when I shared video ESL lessons. Around Christmas time, I showed a clip of Love Actually, we discussed the clip, and I distributed a worksheet with basic ESL comprehension exercises. They were able to understand the humor of the clip and even left singing (in English!).

** As a warning, there is a bit of swearing in the clip, but that wasn't an issue at my school, especially since it was in English **

Unfortunately, the YouTube clip I used does not exist anymore, but here is the more entertaining part of the two I used. I liked having the intro before this piece, but unfortunately, I could not find a good version online. I suggest renting or finding a copy of the segment.

The ESL Worksheet and Transcript

**Tip** to avoid commonplace internet connection problems, I suggest using a YouTube downloading site to have the video prepared before class. Free ones exist, or you could pay for one, if you want to for some reason.

The lesson plan consisted of two parts. The first is a transcript of the clip for the students to fill out after watching it once or twice. The blanks can be adjusted for the level of students.

Clip, Love Actually (2003)


Whenever I get gloomy with the ______________ of the world, I think of the arrivals gate at Heathrow __________________. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and ___________________, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s _______________: there; fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all _________________ of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky ___________________ you’ll find that love actually is all around.

Scene 2:

I feel it in my ____________________, I feel it in my toes (I feel it in my toes, yeah)

Love is all around me (all around me), and so the fe….

I’m __________________ you did it again, Bill.

Ah, it’s just that I know the old version so well, ya know.

Well, we all did, that’s why we’re making the new _____________________.

Right, ok, let’s go.

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my _________________ (I feel it in my toes, yeah)

Love is all around…(cursing)

Start _________________.

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes (feel it in my toes, yeah)

_____________________ is all around me, and so the feeling grows (so the feeling grows, yeah)

It’s written in the wind (in the wind), it’s everywhere I go (everywhere I go)

So if you really love Christmas (love Christmas), come on and let it ______________ (let it snow)

This is shit, isn’t it?

Yep, solid gold shit, maestro.

Part Two of the Worksheet

The second part of the lesson plan expands what they've gotten from the clip, and gives them a chance to discuss the film. This can first be done as a written activity if the level is lower. As a note, the questions about Christmas are not as important to the comprehension of the video, and the last one may not even be very relevent (especially if Christmas is not celebrated in your country). Still, it helped them to think about cultural difference and tradition.

Quiz/ comprehension questions

a. In the introduction, what does the speaker think of when he gets gloomy?

b.What kind of world does the speaker believe we live in?

c. Where is love, according to the speaker?

d. Name three examples of everyday love mentioned:

e. Why does the speaker mention the planes hitting the twin towers?

f. Based on the introduction, what do you think the movie is about?

g. What is the line in the song that the singer (Billy Mack) always messes up (gets wrong)?

h. Why are they making the new version of the song?

i. What do they change the line to?

j. Why do you think they would change the line?

k. How does this scene relate to Christmas?

l. Name three differences and three similarities between Christmas in England and Christmas in [country]:

Hopefully this lesson plan has served you. It served quite well for me, and had my students (and myself) singing "Christmas is all around me" for a number of weeks.


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    • Megan Coxe profile image

      Megan Coxe 6 years ago from somewhere between here and there

      I forgot about those language learning scenes! Great point, Cogerson!

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 6 years ago from Virginia

      Excellent hub and an excellent way to teach...and using one of my favorite movies is only an added there are some scenes in the movies were two people are learning each other's language. Very impressive hub...voted way up and awesome.


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