The Seven Best Short Animated Films for the Language Classroom

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Animated films are ones in which individual drawings, paintings, or illustrations are photographed frame by frame. Traditionally animated films have been associated with children, however, nowadays they are designed to appeal to everyone. With the increased ease of creating animations, there has been a huge rise in the number of animated films being produced, and the vast majority of these are short animations. Many of these short animated films can be exploited in the language classroom as they are short enough to be used in a single session,  offer a complete narrative in a short space of time, have a unique capacity of grabbing and holding students’ attention, and deal with contemporary subjects and issues, such as bullying, racism, sexism, homelessness, and human rights, which are relevant to students’ lives.

Here are my seven favourite animated short films for the language classroom.

 

Paperman

Paperman is an Oscar-nominated short film by John Kahrs which went viral. It’s got a retro feel and tells a not-so-simple love story. It can be used to get students to predict a story and write their own narratives.

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

 

 

Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels is an Oscar-winning puppet animation directed by Timothy Reckart. It can be used as a prompt for students to practise using idiomatic expressions, and talking about love and relationships.

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

 

 

To Do List

To Do List is an inspiring short film by Yaniv Fridman about what we do in our everyday lives. The film can be used to encourage students to reflect on their own language learning and how they can improve it.

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

 

 

Educate the Heart

Educate the Heart is a beautiful animated film by Giant Ant inspired by a poem by Shane Koyczan. The film deals with the themes of education and compassion.

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

 

 

Kindness

Kindness is a poignant short film by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Thought Bubble.  The film introduces a lot of vocabulary related to personality and it is also an excellent prompt to get students talking about character and values.

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

 

 

The Alphabet of Illiteracy

The Alphabet of Illiteracy is a hard-hitting short film commissioned by Project Literacy. The film can be used to introduce vocabulary related to illiteracy and the consequences of illiteracy, and as a prompt for discussing global problems related to illiteracy.

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

 

 

Missing U

Missing U is a lovely, intelligent short animation and poem by Brooke Wagstaff. The film can be used as a prompt for students to practise and talk about pronunciation and write their own short poems.

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

 

 

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

10 comments on “The Seven Best Short Animated Films for the Language Classroom

  1. Excellent blog!

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      I’m glad you like it, Maria 🙂

  2. thanks I love it!

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Glad you like it, Jeane.

  3. Fantastic material! My students loved it. Thank you so much!

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Marina,
      Thanks for commenting. I’m happy your students enjoyed the lessons.
      All the best,
      Kieran

  4. I have always been a huge fan of your lessons. Thank you so much for your amazing contribution to our ESL/EFL world.

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Inara,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment and for your kind words which I really appreciate. It’s great to know that find the lessons so useful.
      All the best,
      Kieran

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