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The Black Button

Posted on November 4, 2012 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around a short film called The Black Button by Dark Heart Productions and the themes of moral dilemmas. Students practise reading, reading and listening.


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

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching a short film clip, speaking, reading, listening and writing

Topic: Moral dilemmas

Language: Second conditional

Materials: Short film clip, video, moral dilemma worksheets and video transcript

Downloable materials: black button lesson instructions     moral dilemmas     what if money was no object


Step 1
Write Moral Dilemma on the board. Ask your students if they know what a moral dilemma is, ask them for examples.


Step 2
Tell me that you would like to talk about two moral dilemmas in small groups. Pre-teach any difficult vocabulary in the  first moral dilemma, then give them the worksheet and let them read it for five minutes. Tell them they should decide what they would do in the situation. Put them into small groups and give them ten minutes to discuss the situation and their decisions.


Moral Dilemmas


Step 3
After 10 minutes get feedback from each group.


Step 4
Repeat steps 2 and 3 with moral dilemma 2.


Step 5
Tell your students they are going to watch the first part of a short film based on a moral dilemma. As they watch the film they should answer the question:

What is the moral dilemma?

Show the film until 4:56.



Step 6
Discuss the moral dilemma and ask the following questions:

What would you do in this situation?
What do you think the man will do?


Step 7
Show the film until the man presses the button, pause at 5:26.
Discuss the man’s decision.
Ask the following question:
What do you think the other man is going to tell him.


Step 8
Show the rest of the film. Ask your students what they think the message of the film is.


Step 9
Tell your students one interpretation is that the man has sold his soul for money. Ask them if they agree. Write the following proverb on the board:


Money is the root of all evil.

Ask them if they agree.


Step 10
Write the following question on the board:

What would you do with your life if money was no object?

Put students in pairs and ask them to discuss the question.


Step 11
Tell your students they are going to watch a short video based on part of a lecture by Alan Watts which asks the question “What would you do if money was no object?”

Show the film and ask students if they agree with Alan Watts.


Step 12
Give students the transcript of the lecture and ask them to read it for 5 minutes then show the video a second time.

What if Money Was No Object


Ask your students to write a composition titled.

What I would do if money was no object?


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.



18 thoughts on “The Black Button

  1. Wow! This really inspired me and got me thinking myself!
    Your website was recommended to me by a friend and I’m really glad I stumbled across your lesson on here :-)Can’t wait to use this idea on Monday … it will surely promote a very interesting discussion. Thank you!

  2. Absolutely brilliant… our life is full of moral dilemmas and sometimes we’re tempted to sell our souls to the devil. This reminds us how good it is to keep faithful to dignity and integrity.
    thanks so much Kieran

  3. Rarely do I find a lesson that 1) I can use without changing anything (!) and 2) is actually meaningful and thought provoking. Thank you and I look forward to using more of your work.

  4. Kieran,thankyou for this lesson. I used it for FCE and advanced. The classes participated really well but the best (and most surprising) was from the class with behaviourial problem. They loved it and can’t wait for the next one. Behaviour has improved so much.Excellent resource. I’ve reccommended this site to all my friends. Mary (from Ireland) living the life in Valencia :-)

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