Post navigation


Posted on October 16, 2011 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is based on the theme of inspiration and inspirational quotes in films.



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 (B2.2)

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching three videos, listening

Topic: Inspiration, inspirational quotes and happiness

Language: Inspirational quotes

Material: Three short videos, video transcript and answer sheet

Downloadable material: inspiration lesson instructions     40 inspirational film quotes transcript    inspirational quotes     will smith interview sheet


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

Step 1

Ask your students if they can think of any inspiring quotes or speeches from films. Ask them if they can remember the exact words and the context.


Step 2

tell your students they are going to watch a short video in which there are 40 inspiring quotes in 2 minutes. The clips are very short and fast, and it’s important to tell students that at this stage they don’t need to try to understand everything. Ask them the following questions:

Do you recognise any of the films?

Were any of the quotes the ones you remembered?




Step 3

Show your students the transcript of the video which is itself an inspiring speech created through a montage of the 40 inspiring quotes.


[scribd id=118982494 key=key-1qr6i1ljp2jp22ebuay8 mode=scroll]


Step 4

Ask your students the following questions:

What is “the pursuit of happiness”?

What do you need to do to get happiness?


Step 5

Tell your students they are going to watch an inspiring quote from a film called The Pursuit of Happyness.



Step 6

Now show your students a kinetic typography film of the quote. Show it again, this time pause it and get students to repeat each sentence.




Step 7

Ask your students if they have any favourite inspirational quotes, get them to share the quotes and discuss them. Then show students the inspirational quotes in the presentation below, and ask them to discuss the quotes in small groups.


[slideshare id=15857540&doc=inspirationalquotes-130104125058-phpapp02]



Ask students to watch this video which is a collection of interviews with the main actor of The Pursuit of Happyness Will Smith in which he argues that our words and thoughts have real power.


Students should watch the film at home and make notes on what Will Smith says in the following sections in the Scribd document below, and in the following class discuss what he says about positive thinking and attitude.


[scribd id=118982994 key=key-1aqrw5d9l11ad33u0b2g mode=scroll]


For homework, the learners read the Will Smith speech aloud several times.

Pair the students. Tell them they are going to read out and record the speech they have practised for homework. Before recording the students practise the speech with their partner. One learner is the director whose role is to:

  • make sure the actor knows the speech well.
  • set up the scene (choose the location, arrange furniture and any props etc.).
  • tell the actor where to stand or sit.
  • plan the shots.

The director films the other student performing the speech with a camera or mobile device.

The students reverse roles.

The students send you the sound file. You watch the video and give them individual feedback on their presentation and pronunciation.



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

16 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. excellent lesson plan, thank you so much. i am using it as part of looking at student’s goals and objectives, those already fulfilled and those they are still working towards. this is a wonderful opening for the whole thing.

    • Hi Lucy,
      Thanks a lot for your kind comments and support. I think it’s a great idea to use the lesson to look at your students’ objectives and goals. Please let me know how it goes.
      All the best,

  2. Hi again Kieran!
    Just want ed to thank you again, now I’ve enjoyed such a very excellent class with 4 adult intermediate Costa Rican students.

    After watching the 40 quotes and identifying as many of the movies as they could, they looked at the transcript and in pairs identified the most inspiring lines, and tried to remember in what movie – and in what probable context- the words were said. We then watched the movie again and, transcript in hand, noticably got more out of it, identifying more language and more context.

    They also very much enjoyed the typographic pep talk, and benefited from the opportunity to practice ‘shadowing the speaker’.

    After talking about what is happiness and the need for self-fulfillment, they moved onto the task of asking about and discussing life goals fulfilling and still being worked upon. On a sheet of paper, they wrote in random locations
    *3 goals they had had as children
    *3 goals they are proud to have achieved in their lives
    *some RECENT achievements
    *3 goals still being worked on

    They then switched papers to ask each other about their progress in fulfilling different goals, past and future. It was really nice to see them motivating each other towards self-fulfillment.

    thanks once more for so generously sharing!

    best regards


    • Hi Lucy,
      The way you’ve used the lesson sounds great, i really liked the way you’ve personalised for your students by getting them to reflect on their past and present goals. I’m really happy that you find the site useful. Thanks for getting back to me and telling me how the lesson went, I really appreciate it. It’salways really usefulto get feedback on how other teachers and their students have found the lessons.
      All the best,


  4. Pingback: The Power of Words « The English School Como

  5. Pingback: The Power of Words | The English School Como

    • Hi David, Thanks a lot for the heads up, I’ll embed the other video now. The fact that clips from films are flagged and taken down from YouTube is one of the reasons I don’t use film clips much. Thanks, again, David. All the best, Kieran

  6. hi
    this looks great for inspiring teenage learners, just one thing – is there a list of the films the 40 quotes are from, I couldn’t find one here? – would be helpful


  7. Pingback: What Inspires You? | Chestnut ESL

  8. The link to pdf file for the inspirational quotes transcript is broken. Need to remove “dreamhosters.” from the link address, then it works!

    Great lesson by the way 😀

    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks for the kind words and for the heads up; I’ve sorted out the technical problem and the document is available again.
      All the best,