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The Piano

Posted on December 17, 2012 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around a beautiful short animated film called The Piano directed by Aidan Gibbons with a piece of music by Yann Tierson called Comptine d’un Autre été: l’après midi in which an old man reminisces about his life.

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

Learner type: All ages

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching short film clip, using adjectives to describe emotions, speaking, and writing

Topic: Emotions

Language: Adjectives to describe emotions, future tenses and narrative tenses

Materials: Short film and video

Downloable materials: the piano lesson instructions

Step 1

Show students this Wordle with some common adjectives to describe emotions. Make sure the students understand all of the adjectives.  

Step 2

Tell students they are going to listen to a short piece of music, they should close their eyes as they listen and think of any emotions they feel or images which come to mind. Play the video with the projector turned off.



Step 3

After listening to the music students work in pairs and share the emotions they felt and the images that came to mind.  


Step 4

Tell the students that the music is used in a short film; ask them to imagine what type of scene the music goes with.


Step 5

Play the video with the sound and image on. Ask students the following questions:

How did the film make you feel?

What did you think of the film?

Who are the people in the story?

What story does it tell?

Was the film how you imagined it would be?


Stage 6

Ask the students what they think inspired the director Aiden Gibbons to make this film. Explain to them that he saw the film Amelie and heard the song and immediately knew he had to make a film using the piece of music, he was also inspired by his grandfather who was living alone at the time and who had fought in the Second World War and lost comrades.


Step 7

Show your students this montage of Amelie with the same music.



Ask them these questions:

How does the montage make you feel?

What story does this montage tell?

What can you tell about the character of Amelie?

What adjectives would you use to describe Amelie?



Ask the students to write the story of the film from the perspective of one of the people in the story: the old man, the young woman or the young boy.


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.


13 thoughts on “The Piano

  1. This is simply an amazing website. Thanks a lot for taking the time to post these materials. The ideas are lovely…I adore them and I’m sure my students will really appreciate them as well.

    Thanks a lot again!

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