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Stephen Wiltshire

Posted on September 6, 2012 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around a beautiful short film about Stephen Wiltshire, an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. As a child Stephen was mute and did not relate to other people. When he was three he was diagnosed as autistic. At school his talent for drawing was recognised and encouraged.

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Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper-intermediate (B2.2)

Learner type:Teens and adults

Time: 60 minutes

Activity: Watching a short film, speaking and writing

Topic: Cities and autism

Language: Vocabulary related to cities

Materials: Short film and video

Downloable materials: stephen wiltshire lesson instructions

 

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Step 1

Put your students in pairs and show the following drawings of cities. Ask them to discuss the following questions about the drawings:

Which cities are they?

Are there any landmarks or famous buildings you recognise?

What do you know about the city?

Have you ever been to this city?

Image source; http://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk/

After 5 minutes get feedback from the whole class.

 

Step 2

Ask your students the following questions:

What preparations did the artist make?

What kind of person do you think the artist is?

 

Step 3

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film about the artists who created the drawings. Ask them to answer the questions in Step 2. Show the film and then get feedback.

 

UBS “Stephen Wiltshire” from HUMBLE TV on Vimeo.

 

Step 4

Ask your students the following question:

What is special about Stephen Wiltshire?

Students may say that he has an incredible memory, they may also have understood that he is autistic. You may like to explain that he is an artist who draws and paints cityscapes, he is famous for his ability to paint cityscapes after having observed them briefly.

Ask your students what Stephen said at the end of the film. Elicit

Do the best you can and never stop.

This seems to be Stephen’s personal philosophy on life. Do they like this philosophy?

 

Step 5

Put the students in pairs and ask them to discuss the following questions:

What do you know about autism?

Have you seen any films which have featured an autistic character?

Do you know any people who are autistic?

 

Step 6

Tell your students they are going to watch a short video about the daily life of Stephen Wiltshire. As they watch it they should answer the following questions:

In what ways does Stephen behave in an autistic manner?

What does Annette, Stephen’s sister, say about his behaviour?

What are Stephen’s interests?

What does Annette think about her brother?

 

 

After watching the video get feedback from the whole class. Ask them how the video made them feel and what they think about Stephen.

 

Homework

Give students a link to Stephen’s website and ask them to read his biography, they should note five pieces of information about stephen which they find interesting.

 

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

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8 thoughts on “Stephen Wiltshire

  1. What a beautiful lesson, Kieran. Stephen is so inspiring and the film is lovely. I can’t wait to show it to my students. Thanks afor sharing it. Sally

  2. Great idea to use these videos. What i found worked really well was to get the students thinking about how accurate the drawings are and how the artist could have got this right – my students thought they were drawn by architects etc so this made the video have an even greater impact on the students. I also found it also encouraged good discussion for the class to discuss whether we could describe Stephen as being “creative” or not. Students also enjoyed just sharing their personal responses to the video, one student said it “touched his heart”. As a follow on, picking up on his “I am obsessed with my women” in the 2nd video, i had the students write one thing they used to be obsessed with when they were younger on a slip of paper, i collected them in, dictated them and had the students guess who wrote each sentence and then stand up and go and find out if they were right a la “Find Someone Who”. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for the great materials! I have the habit to use your films when I need to stir up my students or when I want to teach them not English only, but to broaden their outlook and to teach them something else, maybe even more important than English – tolerance, kindness, respect, love. All the lessons are so meaningful. And this one particularily touched my students and me personally a lot.

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