The most important motive for introducing or adopting a new / specific strategy in class is supposed to be the motivation of students to get the utmost of their minds. Motivation is an old concept in the field of education and educationists have always emphasised upon it when dealing with 21st c teaching and learning.  « Motivation is as much an effect as a cause of learning. » (Ausubel) and, in this context, films involve active engagement and guarantee motivation. When students enjoy movies, which “provide teachable moments, energize lazy minds and contain the unfocussed”, they are motivated.

In class, teachers should introduce reasonably understandable, appealing and motivating films. Yet, mere entertainment is not sufficient. The chosen films should have educational objectives, respect the programme requirements and   relate to a particular topic to be seen or already seen in class.




Both “Literature Circles” and “Film Circles” are  mainly a way to supplement the textbook. They are efficient strategies for large classes, multilevel – classes and different learning styles.

The teacher decides the roles and designs the tasks, offering students more opportunities to speak while enjoying the benefits of the scaffolding process and learning naturally in independent, cooperative and collaborative ways.

In “Literature Circles”, students learn about the setting –theme –plot – characters –  climax –denouement – antagonist – protagonist – narrator… but in “Film Circles”, they learn much more than that; for example, they learn about the film crew   (director – casting director – production manager – director of photography – sound designer …),  shot types, non-verbal communication, music and sound effects…




The table below clarifies the roles of students in “Literature Circle” and “Film Circle” sessions:

Group members / Roles Literature Circle Film Circle
Summarizer 1 1
Discussion director / Group manager 2 2
Symbols wizard / Symbols analyser 3 3
Sound analyser   __ 4
Connector 4 5
Travel tracer 5 6
Nonverbal communication analyser   __ 7
Illustrator 6 8
Shots analyser   __ 9
Researcher 7 10


The teacher can chose the roles according to the number of students in class and according to the nature of the learning environment.



OBJECTIVES of the lesson:

  • Knowledge: students will  observe, recall, know main ideas
  • Analysis: students will recognize hidden meaning; identify components; describe characters…
  • Students will  apply, analyse, synthesise, evaluate common prior knowledge regarding (eg. the hero’s life and achievements)
  • Students will  watch the film with a critical thinking paying attention to (eg. circumstances, actions, reactions and counter-reactions)

SKILLS to focus on and develop among students: Speaking, Writing, Viewing

STRUCTURES to teach: (eg. direct speech; present/past simple)

LEXICAL ITEMS to elicit…

Students ORGANIZATION: groups

Teaching AIDS: (eg. computer(s); data show; handouts …)

Session EVALUATION:  (two checklists)




There are three main stages to go through:


These are preparation activities for the whole film. They help students understand the film. At this stage, the teacher pre-teaches vocabulary, shows the movie trailer, gives the script of the trailer with deleted words and asks questions like the following:

– What do you know about the film?

– Guess what the film is about

– The film is based on a novel by …have you read any of his/her books?

– What do you know about the writer? …


Students watch the film for different information. They may watch the film, a sequence or a part as much as they need. If the teacher divides the film into parts, she has to draw students’ attention to those divisions to help them understand and answer specific questions like the following:

  • Group manager; discussion director:
  1. What is the relationship between X and Y ?
  2. Discuss the way the movie director  portrays the personality and relationship of the two characters…
  3. What articles does X buy?
  4. What is the topic of the men’s conversation?
  5. Who are the two people who appear in the first scene? What kind of persons are they? How do they get along with each other? How does X end his life?
  6. What kind of ………….is it? Describe it. Give adjectives.
  7. What does the house tell about X’s habits and way of life?
  8. What do you learn from him?
  9. What would you like to know about him if you happened to meet him?
  10. What will X do?
  11. Write a short essay about X’s reaction to Y’s tragedy.
  12. Comment on these characters ‘ quotations …
  • Symbols analyser:
  1. What do the flowers represent in the first scene?
  2. What does the last image symbolise? …
  • Sound tracker analyser :
  1. What sound do we hear at the beginning at each scene?
  2. What does the music add to the scenes, to the film? …
  • Travel tracer:
  1. Where does the film take place?
  2. where does scene X take place?…
  • Nonverbal communication analyser:
  1. What does X’s physical appearance and gestures tell about his personality?
  2. What visual elements help convey information about X’s age, name, profession, area where he lives…?
  • Researcher:
  1. What year does the story take place? What season? How can you tell ?
  2. Study the articles written by X about the film. Study the background information about the writer.  …



Group members engage in cooperative learning: they share information related to their role assignments and they take turns to present the information before moving to the production phase.



The teacher and students complete checklists to evaluate the session:








CHECKLIST   A (to the teacher)


Yes Not sure No
I was explicit about the reason(s) for viewing this film.      
I took into consideration my students’ knowledge of the language and listening habits when I selected the film.      
I advised my students on how to tackle the work (watch- and- do tasks).      
I activated existing background knowledge before viewing the film.      
I encouraged prediction.      
I encouraged students to interpret according to their own outlook of the world, beliefs and experiences.      
I tried to fill in background knowledge by presenting the cultural, historical and / or social context of the film.      
I included instructions that offer useful hints.      
I helped students to differentiate main events from secondary events.      
I engaged students in activities that caused them to work with the subject matter, rather than merely watch/view it.      
I gave learners feedback on these activities, enabling them to judge for themselves whether they were learning successfully.      
I tried to teach a (part of a) lesson that figures in the textbook while dealing with the film.      
I designed tasks helping and encouraging students to think before the film, within the film, beyond the film and about the film.      
I helped students to sum up their learning and evaluate themselves at the end of the “Film Circle” session.      

The 2 things I enjoyed about today’s “Film circle” session:



The 2 things I will do differently in the future:









CHECKLIST   B  ( to the student)

Before watching the film YES NOT Sure   NO
I found the trailer important.      
I read the title and looked at posters / pictures to understand better.      
I predicted how the story would develop.      
While  watching the film YES NOT Sure   NO
I decided on a watching purpose _ for example, I followed the development of a specific character (who?)  in relation to the plot line.      
I did not watch scenes in the same way. Sometimes, I watched for general information, and sometimes I watched for specific details.      
I compared my predictions against my classmates’ predictions.      
I compared my predictions against what I watched and modified them when it was necessary.      
I was not much interested in incomprehensible utterances and guessed at the meaning by myself.      
I sometimes guessed at unknown expressions.      
I was interested in nonverbal communication.      
I tried to summarize as I watched along.      
After  watching the film YES NOT Sure   NO
I used my knowledge of the world to understand what happened and to compare it to my own life.      
I organized the information by taking notes, drawing diagrams.      
While discussing the film within the group YES NOT Sure   NO
I was good at communicating with group members.      
I was efficient in taking turns.      
I was able to assume my responsibility within the group.      
After discussing the film within the group / in class YES NOT Sure   NO
I was able to think beyond the film.      
I was able to create an artistic work related to the film/story.      
About the film circle and my role within the group
The 2 things I enjoyed about my role in the “Film circle” session:



The 2 things I will do differently in the future:





By introducing films in class and conducting “Film Circle” sessions, 21st c teachers are in fact updating their class practices. They innovate, create, contextualize and motivate.  They manage classrooms for more communication and interaction. They encourage collaboration, cooperation and self-evaluation. They develop critical thinking and problem solving skills as well as leadership and responsibility among students.

For these reasons, viewing films in class and conducting “Film Circle” sessions is the most important 21st C class activity par excellence.







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