Seven Short Films to Introduce Values in the Language Classroom

Kieran Donaghy, Director of the School for Training, writes about using short films to foster values among English language students.

In an increasingly hyper-competitive and individualised world where isolation and loneliness are more and more prevalent, the role of universal values such as altruism, authenticity, community, compassion, creativity, determination, fairness, honesty, generosity, kindness, optimism, respect, responsibility, self-respect, tolerance, and wisdom in education is becoming increasingly important. Short films are a wonderful and engaging medium through which to introduce values into the classroom and to encourage students to reflect on values.


How to Become a Better Person

How to Become a Better Person created by Tracy Foster for The School of Life is a lovely animation which explores the values and virtues important in the modern world. The film is beautifully narrated by the popular philosopher and writer Alain de Botton.

You can watch the film below and see a lesson plan here.



Educate the Heart

Educate the Heart is a stunning animated poem narrated by the spoken word poet Shane Koyzcan which examines the role of compassion, kindness and fairness in our schools and educational systems.

You can watch the film below and see a lesson plan here.




Wisdom is a video trailer for the book of the same name, Wisdom by Andrew Zuckerman, which features a number of famous writers, actors, activists such as Judi Dench, Robert Redford, Desmond Tutu, and Roasamunde Picher explaining what wisdom means to them.

You can watch the film below.




Kindness is a short film by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Thought Bubble which illustrates in a moving way why kindness is the most important human quality.

You can watch the film below and see a lesson plan here.




Success a short film by Lara Lee forThe School of Life which explores the nature of success and proposes that success is not about being rich and famous but rather connected with more mundane and unheralded things such as listening to a child, filling your mind with interesting things, and knowing when to put your arm around someone.

You can watch the film below and see a lesson plan here.



The Notebook

The Notebook is a a beautiful short film by Greg Gray which tells the story of how a young boy “saves” time for his busy mother so she can go and see him perform in his school play. The film helps parents examine what is really important and valuable in their lives.

You can watch the film below and see a lesson plan here.


Saving Grace

Saving Grace is a short film by Toad’s Caravan commissioned by the charity Mary’s Meals which provides 860,000 free meals every school day to hungry children. Saving Grace tells the story of 10-year old orphan Grace, who lives in poverty in Malawi. Grace has to forage and beg for food for her and her siblings, and as a result, can’t go to school. The animated film explains how by providing a free meal at school, Mary’s Meals can enable more children to go to school, eat, learn, and break the poverty cycle for future generations.

You can watch the film below and see a lesson plan here.



I hope you enjoy the short films and lesson plans. Are there any short films related to values  that have worked well with your students? Let me know in the comments below!


If you’re interested in the use of film and video in language teaching, check out our Film and Video in Language Teaching course.


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