Silent Movies 2: The Sequel

It’s time for the second part of my silent movies round up, my favourite short films with little or no dialogue. To read why I like using these films in my lessons, have a look at part one here.

Each film is accompanied by a short idea which you can use, adapt or ignore as you wish. If you have any ideas for how you’d use the films, leave a comment below.

My Family Before Me

In this short, old super 8 footage of a family gathering has been put together in an evocative and moving way.

Idea: Ask your students to look at the details in the film and try and list the things that have changed since the film was shot. How would this film look different if it was shot now? For example, you can discuss the clothes, the hairstyles and how technology has changed. Are there any things that haven’t changed?


Pothound shows us the day in the life of a dog as he travels around town, fighting, eating and meeting new people.

Idea: Ask your students what they think a wild dog does all day. How would they spend the day if they were a dog?The Scream

Based on the classic painting by Munch, the Scream tries to explain what the painting is all about in a not entirely serious way.

Idea: Find other famous paintings and ask your students to imagine what was happening before and after the scene in the painting was captured.GPS

A man becomes trapped in his own phone in this fun comedy.

Idea: Use the film as a lead in to a discussion about modern technology. Do students ever feel ‘trapped’ by new devices and tools?The Chase

This may be an animated film, but it’s not for young kids. Watch as it all goes wrong for a young hit man.

Idea: Stop the film at 6.42 and ask the students to discuss who they think will be the most successful person at the end of the film. Stop the film at 9.40 and ask them if they have changed their minds. After the film they can discuss how good their predictions were.Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

In this music video, a man experiences a car crash in slow motion and remembers key incidents from his life.

Idea: They say your life flashes before your eyes before when you have an accident. Based on this video, ask the students “what kind of life do you think this man has had? If you could choose the best incidents from your life to flash before your eyes, which would you choose?”Idea 2: This music video won an award as a video of the year. Imagine you are a member of the judging panel. Why did you think it deserved its award?

Brush With Death

A man uses his artistic skills in the heat of battle. Maybe the pen is mightier than the sword?

Idea: The main character has the power to make his paintings become real. Ask the students “If you could have a special power in your life, which one would you choose?”Lifted

Another classic from the Pixar studio, Lifted is about that difficult first day at work.

Idea: This film could be used with all ages, but I’d look at using it in a business class. I’d ask the student if they have ever had to assess an employees performance. Did they ever have to step in and take control like the manager in this film? Or maybe they have been assessed themselves. How did they find the experience? Do they empathise with the wannabe pilot?

Look out for Silent Movies 3, coming to a blog near you later this year.



5 thoughts on “Silent Movies 2: The Sequel

  1. Hello James,

    Have just discovered your blog, and I'm really enjoying it. I've used short clips without dialogues before and have found it a great way of generating language. My learners visibly relax when they realise they are getting a short break from decoding the spoken word!

    I will definitely try out some of these clips and ideas soon – thanks!

  2. Hi Genevieve,

    Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment, it's much appreciated. I love your point about how your students “visibly relax” when they watch a movie without dialogue. It's by putting them in this state that makes them more prepared to then produce their own ideas and thoughts in English.

    I look forward to hearing about how these movies worked for you.

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