Aug 282012

A good story has lots of elements but essentially it’s going to have a lead character we care about who is facing some kind of challenge or problem. And the plot is going to keep moving – that’s really important. It has to have ‘rising action’ as Aristotle would say, all the complications of the plot that build up to the climax. So there are universals at work in a good story.

Movie trailers are condensed stories – designed to tantalise, tell us just enough to make us care about the characters, and then leave us on the hook wanting to know more. They’re a great source of input for lessons for many reasons including:

  • not too short and not too long
  • natural conversation in context
  • an unknown ending so we can discuss what might happen

And the universal features of a story provide us with comprehension questions we can use again and again, with almost every trailer.

  1. What genre of movie is it? e.g horror, action, romantic comedy…
  2. Who is the hero?
  3. What problem or challenge are they facing?
  4. What other characters do we see and how are they related to the hero?
  5. What happens to the hero?
  6. Do you care about the hero or not? (Why?)
  7. How might the story end?
  8. Do you want to see this movie? (Why/Why not?)

Click here to download a free worksheet that works with practically every movie trailer. And click here to visit my new Simple English Videos website which has 34 of the latest movie trailers to choose from, plus clickable transcripts. I’ve been thrilled to find the site is attracting visitors from all over the world and I’m adding new videos almost every day. If you have any tips or suggestions for the site, please pass them along.

To get updates on new videos as they are added, follow me on Twitter here:


 Posted by at 6:08 pm

  One Response to “Lessons from movie trailers”

  1. […] (I think movie trailers are great vehicles for teaching – here are some generic lesson ideas to go with movie trailers.) And for some homework tasks see here. Plus – as of today – […]

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