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The Benefits of Learning Languages

Posted on October 15, 2012 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around a short film clip from Avalon directed by Barry Levinson and an infographic titled The Advantages of Learning Languages by Kaplan . The lesson encourages students to overcome the difficulties of learning English and to find strategies and tools which help them in their language learning. In addition, it helps learners reflect on the many advantages of learning languages.


Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Advanced (C1)

Learner type: All ages

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching short film clip, speaking reading and writing

Topic: Learning strategies and advantages of learning languages

Language: Confusing words, may and can,and vocabulary related to language learning

Materials: Short film clip, infographic and article

Downloable materials: the benefits of learning languages lesson instructions     the benefits of learning languages infographic     the benefits of learning languages article


Step 1

Write confusing words on the board, and ask your students if there are any words which they find confusing in English. Write their confusing words on the board and ask them to explain what the difference is . If your students don’t mention them write up the following words which are commonly confused:

there their they’re

bring take

its it’s

fewer less

lie lay

Ask students if they can explain the difference between the words and ask them to give sentences using the words.


Step 2

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film clip in which a young boy has problems with 2 verbs which are very commonly confused by native English speakers. As they watch the film they should identify the 2 confusing verbs and the rules for using them. Show the film.



Step 3

Get feedback from your students; they should be able to identify the 2 verbs as can and may. Ask them to tell you what the rules are for using can and may. If they’re not sure show the film again and pause when the teacher and principal say the rules.

“Can” is whether you’re capable of doing something.

“May” is asking for permission.

You may like to point out that “may” is often considered too formal now by many native speakers when asking for permission, and they tend to use the more informal “can”.


Step 4

Ask your students if they liked the clip and how it made them feel. Write the following quote from the film on the board:

“This English is very difficult. I never realised how difficult English is.”


Ask your students if they agree with the quote. If they agree, ask them in what ways they think English is difficult. Write what your students consider to be the main difficulties on the board. Next put them in small groups and ask them how they could overcome each difficulty. For example, if students say they find pronunciation difficult, ask them how they could improve their pronunciation. You may also like to suggest strategies such as watching films and TV series in English to help them improve their pronunication.

Try to get them to come up with ideas and strategies for overcoming the difficulties of English. Help them to see that there are a wealth of strategies and resources to help them in their English language learning.

You may like to suggest some strategies and tools for each diificulty which students mention. For example:


Strategies: watching films and TV series in English, and listening to podcasts

Tool: Elllo


Strategies: watching films and TV series in English, and checking the pronunciation in a dictionary

Tool: Howjsay


Strategy: Speak as much in possible in class, don’t be afraid of making mistakes

Tool: English Central


Step 5

Write The Advantages of Learning Languages on the board. Put your students in pairs and ask them to brainstorm as many advantages of learning languages (not just English) as they can in 5 mintues. Next get feedback from the whole class.


Step 6

Ask students if they know what an infographic is. If they don’t know tell them that an infographic (an abbreviation of information graphic) is a graphic visual representation of information data or knowledge. Tell them that they are going to look at an infographic titled The Advantages of Learning Languages.  Ask them to compare their answers in the previous step and to select the 5 facts which they find most interesting or surprising. When they’ve finished reading the infographic they should tell their partner their 5 intersting or surprising facts.


inspire language learningLearn English with Kaplan


Step 7

Tell your students they are going to read a short article in which the writer talks about the most important benefit of learning languages. Give them the text, ask them to read it and then answer the 5 comprehension questions.

The Benefits of Learning Languages Article



Tell your students you would like them to write a composition similar to the one they have just read titled:


The Advantages of Learning Languages

Has learning a foreign language helped to improve your:

  • Travelling experiences
  • Career
  • Love life
  • Brain power

Argue which is the most important benefit.


I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Film English is a labour of love, it takes hundreds of hours and thousands of euros a year to sustain and provide free English language lesson plans. Keeping it a free, clean, ad-free experience — which is important to me and, I hope, to you — means it’s subsidised by the generous support of readers like you through donations. So if you find any inspiration, joy and stimulation in these English language lessons or if they help you teaching English, please consider a modest donation — however much you can afford.


21 thoughts on “The Benefits of Learning Languages

  1. A strange clip to show to students as it gives the impression that “Can I go to the bathroom?” is incorrect, when in fact it’s in far more common usage than the overly formal / old-fashioned “May I…”

    • Hi Douglas,
      Thanks for commenting. I don’t think it’s a strange clip at all; it perfectly illustrates in a very humourous way that many native speakers confuse the 2 forms. The correct grammatical form is considered to be “may I go to the toilet” although most native speakers use “can I go to the toilet”. I think the film reflects this as all the kids want to use “can I go to the toilet?”, while the pedantic teacher insists on “May I go to the toilet?”

      • What a fantastic idea and lesson plan! I am definitely using it in the first lesson this year with my perennial upper-intermediate group. I’d also say that “May I go to the toilet?” is rather formal and “Can I go…” is more common today. But it’s not a reason not to use this great lesson plan! On the contrary, you can talk about how language is changing or perhaps it’s the norms of politeness that are changing.

        • Hi Leo,
          Thanks a lot for comenting. It’s great to know you enjoy the lesson, I hope your students like it too. I agree that “can I go” is much more common now, but I think that the film, which is set in the 1960s, reflects that this has been the case for a long time. All the kids in the class would use “Can I go to the teacher?”, but the pedantic teacher says this is wrong. I had the very same experience was I was a kid at school.
          All the best,

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  3. Hi Kieran, I really love the film clip and the lesson. I used it with a B1 one and it worked really well. The students really loved the video, they thought it was really funny. The infographic is great as well. Thanks alot for sharing these great lessons. Sally

  4. I really like your lessons and so do my students, We did the activity about bullying(new boy)and apart from being a bit shocking for them I got very interesting, reveiling results when they wrote an essay about bullying.
    Thanks a lot from this Spanish teacher of English.

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  6. Really enjoyed this lesson, my High School students did as well. I didn’t have time to do the entire lesson in one period, so we split it up into two. I did hear the inevitable, “Too hard teacher” a few times though for the last part! Haha.

    Keep making great stuff Kieran.

  7. I liked your site very much! Now my English and Portuguese classes will be better thanks to your ideas! I thank God for your life and work. Thank you very much! You’ve changed my classes!

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