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