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The Great Dictator

Posted on March 24, 2011 by kierandonaghy

The Great Dictator large

This EFL lesson is based around a clip from The Great Dictator. Students watch a short film clip, identify and classify abstract nouns and speak about politics.

film_in_action_thumbnail

 

I would ask all teachers who use Film English to consider buying my book Film in Action as the royalties which I receive from sales help to keep the website completely free.

 

 

Language level: Upper Intermediate (B2.1) – Advanced (C1)

Learner type:Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching short film clip, identifying and classifying abstract nouns and speaking about politics

Topic: Films and politics

Language: Abstract nouns

Materials: Short film clip, film stills and posters, speech transcript and discussion questions

Downloable materials: the great dictator lesson instructions     abstract nouns     the great dictator speech     the great dictator discussion questions

 

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Step 1

Show students the PowerPoint below, there are 10 slides with stills from films which all have an abstract noun in their title. The students should try to name the film; then show them the film poster which has the title of the film. When the students have named all the films, ask them what all the titles have in common.  Hopefully, they will recognise that there is an abstract noun in all the titles.

 

[slideshare id=15749846&doc=abstractnounsinfilmtitles-121224075733-phpapp02]

 

Ask students if they can define what an abstract noun is. If they can’t, give them a definition such as:

“An abstract noun is a noun you can’t see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.”

 

Step 2

Show the students this Wordle of common abstract nouns and check that they know their meanings.

 

 

 

Step 3

Show the students the abstract noun document and go through the definition of an abstract noun and the most common endings. Then ask students to put the abstract nouns in the Wordle into the correct category: emotions, states or ideals.

 

[scribd id=117848519 key=key-1puxss2gf0h9xzitzg3b mode=scroll]

 

Step 4

Tell students they’re going to watch a speech from a film in which a lot of abstract nouns are used. Show them this Wordle of the speech and in pairs they should predict what the speech will be about.

 

 

Step 5

Show students the video of the speech at the end of The Great Dictator which is a rousing call for humanity to break free from dictatorships and use science and progress to make the world a better place.


 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcvjoWOwnn4&w=630&h=450]

 

Step 6

Get feedback from students on whether their predictions were correct and what they understand. Ask what abstract nouns they understood. Then get students to read the speech in the document and to underline all the examples of abstract nouns. Get feedback. Then watch the speech again.

 

[scribd id=117849779 key=key-puvkmjutvugvhnjgbpw mode=scroll]

 

Step 7

Put students into pairs and get them to discuss the questions about politics.

[scribd id=117849180 key=key-u3uvurmsh03xgs0a9ra mode=scroll]

 

I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains ad-free and takes many hours a month to research and write, and hundreds of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy or value in it, please consider supporting Film English with a monthly subscription, or by contributing a one-off payment.

Monthly subscription

One-off payment

11 thoughts on “The Great Dictator

  1. Dear Kieran,
    What fascinating ideas, insights, appealing images , wordles, stills from films you have displayed here on this attractive blog!

    I should have visited it before… but later than never. Thanks a lot for your creative work which will certainly inspire every teacher browsing this blog.
    I wish I still could be in the classroom with my students so as they might benefit from really creative English language learning.

    I promise to spread the word to colleagues in the field.

    Best wishes,
    Maria

  2. Love it. I actually started writing my own lesson plan based on the speech when I came across your plan. I was going to use it for a more grammar based class, but I love the abstract nouns idea. Nice work and thank you for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Warren

  3. once upon a time I was wandering on the net Stumbled across your site, Film English, what a wonderful treasure! what a great idea! thank you a thousand times.

  4. This is brilliant! I love this speech and have been thinking about how to use it for my ESL adult class for a while. This is perfect. THANK YOU!

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