The Seven Best Short Films for ELT Students




I’ve been writing lesson plans designed around short films for my website Film English for six years. Teachers often ask me how I find the short films I use in my lesson plans. The answer is quite simple: I’ve watched literally thousands of short films and developed an instinct for the type of engaging and simple short films which will work in the ELT classroom. In this article I’d like to share what for me are the seven best short films for the language classroom.


The  Mirror

The Mirror is a short film by Ramon and Pedro which tells the story of a boy’s journey from childhood to old age. It works very well for getting students  speaking, writing and using vocabulary related to age, face, body, mood and actions. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.




The Notebook

The notebook is a moving short film by Greg Gray and is wonderful for introducing the theme of empathy. It can be used to get students to learn and practise vocabulary related to household chores. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.


Dial Direct “The Notebook” directed by Greg Gray from Velocity on Vimeo.


The Present

The Present is a gripping short film with a wonderful twist by Jacob Frey which deals with the themes of empathy, teenagers and disablity. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.


The Present from Jacob Frey on Vimeo.



Soar is a delightful short film by Alyce Tzue which can be used to get students to predict and write a narrative. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.


SOAR: An Animated Short from Alyce Tzue on Vimeo.


I Forgot My Phone

I Forgot My Phone is a thought-provoking short film by Miles Crawford which is a great prompt for discussion and refexion on addiction to mobile phones. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.


I Forgot My Phone from Miles Crawford on Vimeo.



iDiots is a short film by special effects company BLR_VFX and deals with the themes of technology, mass consumption and instant gratification. It’s a great prompt to get students thinking and speaking about mobile phones and technology. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.


IDIOTS from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.


Fear of Flying

Fear of Flying is a beautiful short film by Conor Finnegan which is an effective way to introduce and discuss the theme of fears and how to overcome them. You can watch the film below and find a full lesson plan here.


FEAR OF FLYING from conorfinnegan on Vimeo.


I hope you like the short films and find the lesson plans useful. Are there any short films you’ve used in the classroom that you’d like to share?

Photo credit Grant McCurdy

27 comments on “The Seven Best Short Films for ELT Students

  1. Thought you made a mistake putting the same vidoe to all of the entrances…

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Edward,
      I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what you mean? Are you seeing the same films? If so, I’d suggest refreshing your browser.

      1. Sr, as I see, all the videos are the same. Review them and tell me. But do the review and you´ll see that everyone is the same, about the same littel boy.

        1. Kieran Donaghy says:

          Hi Edward,
          I’ve just checked the article in Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari and they all show seven completely different short films. I can only suggest that you refresh your browser or change to another browswer I hope this helps.

          1. It could be to do with the country you’re viewing the page from – I see the little boy too and the video turns out to be an advert for dialdirect insurance.

            However, when I click the link to Vimeo below the video I can watch the clips.

            I’m using Chrome on a Mac in Russia

          2. Kieran Donaghy says:

            Thanks for the heads up, and glad you could solve the problem.

          3. After posting the comment I refreshed the page and all the original videos appeared – apparently it was necessary to watch an advert through to the end to make them appear.

          4. Kieran Donaghy says:

            Hi Ben,
            I’m happy you could sort out the issue.

    2. Hi Kieran.

      He’s right, I had the same experience. After I watched “The Mirror” on my Android phone the same still shot of that film was somehow placed as the image of all seven movie descriptions. This creates the impression that you had linked the same film to all descriptions. It’s some kind of browser, blog template, or Vimeo quirk. A refresh fixes it. Cheers from NY. -Sonny

      1. Kieran Donaghy says:

        Thanks for letting me know S.R.

  2. Vanita chopra says:

    Superb collection ….can you send me more such short films

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Vanita,
      I’m happy you like the selection. You can over 150 short films and lesson plans designed around them at my website Film English

  3. Great set of short films, when I get round to watching them all I will let u know how I got on, thanks.

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Barry,
      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you like the selection. Please let me know how you get on with the films.
      All the best,

  4. Hi Kieran,
    I have used iDiots and The Present many times in my classes. Thank you for the lesson plans. I think it would be nice to add Serial Taxi to this list. It is a great lesson plan too.

    I’d like to share some short films I use in my classes, hope you like them.

    One Man’s Loss;

    Back to Solitude;

    9 Meter ;

    Around the corner;

    The man at the counter (I haven’t used this one yet, but I really love the story.)

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Ridvin,
      Thanks very much for commenting and for the kind words. I’ll check out the short films you recommmended.
      All the best,

  5. Hi Kieran,
    Thank you for sharing your short films and the lesson plans. I have downloaded four of them and will in due course, sit quietly and watch them. I was wondering, do you have any short films for elementary students I could show?

    Many thanks.

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Joyce,
      Thanks a lot for commenting. I hope your students enjoy the lesson. Look find lessons for specific levels or themes use either the search function or the category menu.
      All the best,

  6. Ayhan Yavuz says:

    Hi Kieran,
    It has really been a wonderful contribution for ELT teachers especiallay in terms of entertaining the students with beatifully designed lesson plans. Thans a lot.
    Ayhan Yavuz.

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Ayhan,
      Thanks very much for commenting and for the kind words. I’m happy you’ve got so much from the lessons.
      All the best,

  7. Hi Kieran,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your lessons.

    Like so many other EFL teachers I’m sure, I use your website very frequently.
    Seeing this list just reminded me of a few of my favourites.
    I particularly enjoyed Fear of Flying and The Notebook, both so sweet!

    I bought your book recently and have found it really useful for creating my own video based lessons, I’m sure I will be referring back to it for years to come.

    Thanks again for the brilliant work that you do and for sharing so generously.


    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks very much for commenting and for your kind words. I’m very happy you find the lessons so useful. Thank you for buying my book; it’s great to know you’re finding it useful. If you have time, would you mind writing a short review of it on Amazon? Positive reviews, help sales 🙂

      All the best,


      1. English teacher says:

        Great videos. I will definitely use them in my classes!

  8. Kieran thanks a lot for short films, I’m writting form Chile and I’m working in a very little school and I need to know if thereis a possibility to download them because we don´t have internet connection in classrooms but I’d love to teach them with som of this films!


    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Macarena,
      If there’s a download button on the video in Vimeo then it’s fine to download. If not, it’s not legal to download videos without the permission of the director or producer.
      All the best,

  9. WOW…thanks for the seven short film, it is very useful in my speaking class…please submit any lesson plan and short film more….

    1. Kieran Donaghy says:

      Hi Girik,
      Thanks for commenting. I’m happy you find the films useful. You can find almost 200 similar lesson plans at my resource website Film English . Enjoy!

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