Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development


'movie posters' photo (c) 2006, michell zappa - license:

NOTE: Movie video clips come and go on the Web, so some of the scenes at these links are no longer available. However, I’m always updating this post, and all my lists. The links near the bottom are the most recent ones.

I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years, and know a lot of good scenes that will work with English Language Learners. However, I don’t have an infallible memory, and I haven’t seen all the movies ever made.  So I figured that there must quite a few other lists out there of movie scenes that would work well with ELL’s, and, after some “googling,” I discovered that I was right.

This “The Best…” list is a “sister list” to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.  There, I share some good clips, as well as other resources, and tell how I use these kinds of movie scenes in the classroom (you also might be interested in The Best Pink Panther Fight Scenes For English Language Learners).

My favorite way of using them is a technique called “Back To The Screen” that I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example). I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we share in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy this activity.

The movie scenes I share here are ideal for this kind of activity.  Some of them include video clips of the actual scenes from YouTube.  If you want to use those videos, but YouTube is blocked at your school, you might want to read The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School.

Of course, there are many other ways to use a video clip as a language-development activity. James Keddie has created a great site called TEFL Clips that shares video clips and different English exercises that can be used with them. Many of his ideas can be adapted for these video scenes, too.

If the scenes on this list can’t be found on YouTube, I just rent a DVD and show the scene.

Some of the video clips on these sites are not appropriate for classroom use, though they are a very small percentage.  So this post is for teacher, not student, consumption.

Here are my picks for The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development:

The 50 Funniest Movies Scenes Ever (With Videos) is a good list that includes videos of the scenes, too.

Slapstick’s Greatest Hits shares several clips, including from “I Love Lucy” and the silent era’s Harold Lloyd.


What Is The Best Movie Scene You Can Find On YouTube? answers that question with a number of different clips — some inappropriate for classroom use.

Popular Mechanics has a great list of what they consider to be The Best Car Chases In Movie History, and include online video clips.

The Oregonian newspaper has a little different view of The Best Movie Chase Scenes, again including clips.

AMC’s Filmsite has an incredible list of different types of “The Best” scenes — best scary scenes, best disaster scenes, etc. It doesn’t include clips, but that’s what Netflix is for.

CNN has a list of The Best — And Worst — Movie Battle Scenes — without clips.

And here’s a list of The Best Martial Arts Movie Fight Scenes.

Movieclips has immediately become an indispensable website in my “teachers’ repertoire” of links. It has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content. That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s only part of why I like this new site so much. What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

This kind of organization makes it a gold mine for English Language Learners and their teachers. A ready-made video to teach vocabulary or an academic concept is at your finger-tips. Plus, they’re easily used for an activity like “Back To The Screen,” which I explain in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

In addition, users can create questions about the clip that the site will host. That’s a nice feature, and an opportunity for students to write for an authentic audience. The only tricky part is that in order to do so you have to register for the site, which is easy enough. However, that also gives you access to the mature content clips, so you’d only want to have students use it under supervision.

The 10 greatest car chases of all time is a great video slideshow from Salon.

Movie Segments For Warm-Ups and Follow-Ups is a blog that shares video clips and written activities for English Language Learners.

“The 15 Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time” is a great slideshow of video clips from TIME Magazine.

10 Best Car Chases in Movie History comes from Popular Mechanics.

Greatest Movie Car Chases comes from Rotten Tomatoes.

10 Best Car Chase Scenes is from Best Oti.

10 Best Hollywood Movie Car Chases! is from What Culture!

20 Greatest Movie Car Chases is from Chris On Cars.

I love using Pink Panther scenes. Here are links to two of my favorites.

The blog Film English has lot of great clips and ideas on how to use them in class.

The Cinematic Chase is a video collection from The New York Times of great movie chase scenes.

The Golden Gate Bridge: Who destroyed it best? is from io9.

TIME Magazine periodically puts together slideshows that include thematically-based video clips:

Hot Pursuits: 10 Awesome Non-Car Chase Scenes

10 Memorable Movie Breakfast Scenes

Love Always: Top 10 Movie Moms We Wish Were Ours

The 10 Most Memorable Ads Featuring Celebrities And Their Kin

Apocalypse Wow: 10 Ways Hollywood Has Ended the World is a slideshow, with video clips, from TIME.

Great Video Clips For ELLs: “The 25 Most Suspenseful Movies Ever Made”

Action Movie Kid: DreamWorks dad Daniel Hashimoto turns toddler son into lightsaber-wielding CGI superhero is from The Independent, and shares several very short videos that would be good to show English Language Learners and then have them describe what they saw. Here’s an example:

These two compilation videos would be great for English Language Learners — they’re entertaining and in slow motion, so neither they or the teacher has to worry about it going to fast.

I think they’re all appropriate for classroom use though have to admit I didn’t get a chance to watch all of either of them:

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I have used scenes from The Simpsons for similar activities in MFL classes – eg, using the opening sequence to practice daily routine / everyday activities / time phrases and sequences. I like it because, being set in day to day life, it has lots that the students can talk about, at almost any level of language.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas! I look forward to seeing if the films you suggest can be adapted for Indonesian, and using more Indonesian films in my lessons with ideas like this!

  2. Hey Larry! I can finally post in the comment section again, using Chrome.

    Great list of resources. I think these, and so many more of your resources are wonderful for the regular classroom too! (In fact, I bought Zero Prep many years ago when I was teaching 5th grade! I didn’t even notice it was for ESL until I got it home- old habits die hard)

  3. Wow Larry, that is some list. Thanks alot! Turning the back with Middle School students is not always easy, they can’t help but keep turning around to see/watch, partly because the student who is watching isn’t able to tell what’s happening, they just sit their, watching/laughing, making it almost impossible for the student who isn’t watching to want to turn and watch. Even though I tell them they will get their turn, I often have to tell them “No cheating!”

  4. Larry,

    Great job here, and thanks for all the info.

    I recently picked up book while at a TESOL conference in Seoul, and can’t wait to use it in class. It’s called Film by Susan Stempleski and Barry Tomalin. A preview is available in google books:

  5. Hi Larry,

    Thanks for another very helpful post ! I’ll try using “Back to the Screen” and the Movieclips site !

    I remember a while back, a few teachers on the tech mentor listserv mentioned that they had their students watch movie scenes, and then videotaped students re-enacting the scene. Then the class (or viewers online) would vote for their favorite actors. Do you have any of those teacher/class websites ? I was telling my students about that and wanted to show some examples of ESL students acting !

    Thanks very much !

    Diane Wallis

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  8. Great resources!

    Our nonprofit launched a new learners’ dictionary ( that includes video clips as well. It’s still in beta, and feedback is very welcome!

    The dictionary shows video snippets that show the word as it is used in everyday live. Some of the videos were specifically made to explain that particular word, but most of them are actual clips of videos extracted from Youtube (with lots of filters in place, of course).

    Users can vote videos up or down, based on how useful they found it to be. The dictionary is part of the LearnThatWord vocabulary and spelling coaching program, and free.

  9. Hye there, I was wondering, is there any specific research regarding to the effects of using english movies to enhance students language? If there’s so, is it possible to give me a link?

  10. Thanks Larry, I’ve been searching for quite some time. I really appreciate your help.

  11. Bonjour, Nous recommandons ce site . merci

  12. Shame I can’t access the youtube vid’s as it is blocked here in China. I would really love to see if any vid’s are suitable for my 7 – 10 year old students for the drama classes.

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