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Educate the Heart

Posted on January 8, 2013 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around a short film called Educate the Heart and the themes of education and compassion. Students talk about education and compassion, categorise vocabulary, watch a short film and write a composition.



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

Learner type:Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching short film, speaking, watching an interview and writing a composition

Topic: Education and compassion

Language: Vocabulary related to education and compassion

Materials: Short video, interview, 2 wordles, and video and interview  transcripts

Downloadable materials: educate the heart lesson instructions     educate the heart transcript     shane koyczan interview


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Step 1

Show students this wordle and tell them that it was created from the words of a quotation by Aristotle. Tell them that “educating” and “the” are larger than the other words because they are repeated in the sentence. Put them in pairs and ask them to create a sentence from it. If they find this difficult tell them the sentence starts with the word “educating”.



Step 2

Get students to read out their sentences and then show them the correct quotation.


Step 3

Put the students into small groups and ask them to discuss the quotation. You may like to help them by giving them some questions such as:

How do we educate the mind?

Can you give examples of educating the mind?

How can we educate the heart?

Can you give examples of educating the heart?

Do we educate the mind and the heart in our educational system?


Step 4

Show students this wordle which was created using words from the transcript of a video they are going to watch later.



Put students into pairs and tell them that you want them to use a dictionary to look up words they don’t know and then to put the words into categories, however, you do not give them the categories they have to decide the categories themselves. The categories could be based on the type of word (verbs, nouns, and adjectives), short words, long words, stress patterns, positive words, negative words etc. The important thing is that students decide on the categories themselves as this will help them remember them.


Step 5

Get feedback from the whole class and write the categories on the board.


Step 6

Tell your students they are going to watch a short video about educating the heart in which the words from the wordle appear. Ask them what they think they will see and hear in the video.


Step 7

Tell the learners they are going to watch but not hear the film. As they watch they should imagine what the script to the video is.


Step 8

Play the film with no sound.


Step 9

Pair the learners and ask them to write the script of the voiceover for the film using the vocabulary in the wordle. Set a time limit of ten minutes.


Step 10

Tell the learners that you are going to show the video again with no sound. Each pair should take turns coming to the front of the class and read their voice-over as they watch the film. Comment on each pair’s voiceover.

Step 11

Show the film again for each pair who add their voiceover. Comment on each pair’s voiceover.

Step 12

Show the students the video until 01:40 and ask them to compare their voiceover with the original.

Dalai Lama Centre // Educate the Heart from Giant Ant on Vimeo.


Step 13

Give students the transcript of the video and let them read it for 5 minutes and then show the video again.

Ask students the following questions:

Did you like the video?

How did the video make you feel?

Do you agree with message of the video?


Step 14

The video is beautifully narrated by author and poet Shane Koyczan. Tell your students they are going to watch an interview with him in which he answers the following questions:

1. What does “educating the heart” mean to you?

2. How can we “educate the heart”?

3. Who educated your heart?

Before they watch to the interview, put them into pairs and get them to ask their partner the 3 questions.


Step 15

Now show the interview and ask students to answer the 3 questions.

Get students to compare their answers.


Step 16

Give students the transcript of the interview and go through any vocabulary they don’t understand. Now show the interview a second time.

Ask students the following questions:

Do you agree with Shane?

How would you describe Shane as a person?



Ask students to write a composition titled:

It is just as important to educate the heart as the mind.

Encourage them to use the vocabulary they have learned in the lesson.

Alternatively ask them to read the script, practise saying it aloud several times and then record themselves reading it aloud using a webcam or a mobile device. They should send you the video file. You watch it and giv ethem feedback on their pronunciation.

I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains 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

29 thoughts on “Educate the Heart

  1. I really love your classes!! It saves me so much time and effort looking on the internet for interesting things to show! A very big thank you to you!!!!!!!!!

  2. This class material ” Educate the heart” is so beautiful! I just loved it. I’m eager to use it with my English students as soon as we get back from vacation. Thanks indeed!

  3. Hi Kieran! Thanks for sharing this wonderfull plan, I just loved it.
    I´ve got some students of ESL studying to be teachers so it´s just perfect!
    Thanks again.

    • Hi John,
      Thanks a lot for commenting, I’m really happy that you like the lesson so much. I hope your students enjoy it too.
      All the best,

  4. I am a fan always! Such an inspiring website and lessons. Will never thank you enough! 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for this lovely resource…it really struck a chord with me and my students. Beautiful.

    • Hi Pearl,
      It’s a pleasure. Thanks a lot for your kind comments. I’m really happy that the lesson struck a cord with you and your students.
      All the best,

  6. Super Great Wonderfull and Inspired. I would love to know how to download the lesson material, for use in a class without internet connection? My best regards, Matthew.

  7. Thank you for this inspiring and motivating lesson! Your web is a great resource. This year I haven’t used any of your wonderful ideas so far; I’ve been too obsessed with programs and lacking energy… However, I’m planning to do something different when we go back to class after exams break, next week. Your web is not only a great resource of motivation for my teaching, for my students’ learning, but also for me as a human being. THANK YOU. I really appreciate all your work! HUGE HUG!

    • Hi Mar,
      It’s a pleasure. I’m just happy you find the site useful, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. I hope you get to use the lesson in the new term.
      un abrazo,

  8. i have to write a long essay, topic is “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” but now i don’t have idea, how can i write it, can you give me some reasons why do we need educate the heart

  9. Completely surprised! Your lessons are the best I have ever seen! You are on my favourites now! Can’t wait for the next lessons! Kisses from Argentina

    • Hi Gise,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. It’s great to know the site is now one of your favourites 🙂
      All the best,

  10. Hi Kieran,

    I was truly happy to come across the video! The words are magical, they make not only students, but mature people as well reflect… Also, the lesson itself is fantastic, still, I’ve changed it a bit, having added dictation of the words from the word bank and changed the essay to “The things which are not taught at school” to broaden the topic and provide student with more freedom of self-expression… All in all, you’re doing a great job, thanks a lot!

    All the best,


  11. There is no way for me to love your lessons more!!Thank you so much, Kieran!

  12. A friend told me about film english today, so right after class this evening i though to give it a surf!

    Well,I am so glad i tried it today and have not left it for tomorrow!! I m overwhelmed by the perfect combinations of videos and relative themes!
    Hilarious, caustic, effective and generating feelings, thoughts, concerns……….critical thinking! Or mere thinking!

    Thank you soooooo much for sharing such treasures! Educating our hearts it is!
    A donation will soon be on its way, from my school,Ulearn, from our hearts!

  13. Thanks for this lesson. I tried it with a weak intermediate class. They really enjoyed the topic and found it engaging (a welcome break from the usual ‘education’ material in the coursebook). With my students, I found that by step 11 we didn’t have much more to say – I could have usefully shortened or altered the questions in 2/3 to avoid repetition.

    Suggestions for others:

    1. Perhaps talk about positive or negative learning experiences before the video – and whether the positive experiences had been about ‘heart’ or ‘mind’ eg. learning to ride a bike, learning your mother tongue, studying for an exam etc.

    2. After the video, discuss how we can bring ‘heart’ into language teaching – eg. would students like more say on the curriculum? could they each choose a topic for each lesson? or present on a personal topic?

    Hope this is helpful.

  14. Your classes are all moving… But this one is the best! Not only I loved it, but all my students did it as well… I teach english in a chinese school and I really hope they could learn something more than english from this class! Thanks…

  15. I really enjoy the topic!!! I think this is an important issue to teach. All the videos are really meaningful:)

  16. Wow thank you so much!! Your lessons are fantastic and full of wonderful activities to inspire our students!! I’m so glad I came across your website it’s saved in my favorites!!