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February 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 1

ISSN 1755-9715

Using Movies in Teaching Creative Writing to EFL Student

Zeineb Haider comes from Libya. She is a graduate student from UTSA and is currently a lecturer at College of  Education, English Department at Tripoli University teaching creative writing and teaching English to young leaners. Email:



As Wikipedia stated "Creative writing is the art of making things up, it depends on imagination to convey meaning through the use of imagery, narrative and drama" . There are various genres of writings where creative writing is used one of them is short stories. In this lesson plan we will shed light on using the different elements of a short story .

Every short story needs the following elements:

a Theme: the general idea of the story

b Setting: the place and time the story took place in

c Plot: how the characters and the events are woven together

d Characters: those who play a role in the events of the story

e Conflict : the climax of events in the story

f  Ending :the way the writer chooses to end the story



In this lesson plan I have chosen the movie (Life of Pi) which is originally a novel written by Yan Martel which was created into a movie. The six elements of a short story can be elicited from the story of the movie.

Watch the movie on youtube

Life of Pi’ movie trailer ‘


Class activity

Step 1: Divide your class into groups to watch the movie and assign a different task for each one

Step 2: While watching the movie students must take notes

Step 3: Each group will be assigned to write about a different element from the movie

for example: describe the different settings of the story in your own words.

Step 4: Students will work as a group to finish the task given to each them

Step 5: After all the groups are finished, the teacher collects the written material to arrange in a poster to make up the story.


Movie story analysis

Theme: Belief in God, the primacy of survival, the meaning of freedom

Plot: A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery while, cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Setting : Pondicherry zoo, a carnivorous island, Mexico where Pi is rescued. Canada the Pacific Ocean is the most important as it is where most of the story takes place.

Characters : Pi as the protagonist, Richard Parker as the antagonist, Pi's mother a static  character /a devoted mother, the cook /a flat minor character

Conflict: Pi with himself (stress, anxiety, fear, doubt, challenge, Pi with Richard Parker (human with animal)

Ending: the story ends in a way left to the reader to decide and wants to believe in

 the writer encourages you to use your imagination.



As a teacher I noticed that my students were happy and motivated while watching the movie and taking notes. Each group was focusing the element assigned to them to finish their task, collaborative language learning was happening to finish the given task. As stated collaborative language learning is when students work together in groups to finish an assigned task its very beneficial as students grow in the area of motivation and oral skills whey work collaboratively. From the work of Lev Vygotsky "collaborative language learning he  promotes that learning is a social task that is student centered instruction and collaborative learning' 

I have taught the elements of a short story via movies for three semesters and I believe

it’s a very successful and interesting strategy for teaching as it breaks students boredom from the traditional way of creative writing  (short stories elements)

I truly recommend it for those who are teaching creative writing (short story)

As a teacher you can be creative with the genres of movies you want to use I have used Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast (movie) they all worked like wonders as my students really enjoyed eliciting the elements of the story (movie)


Quote from ‘Life of Pi:



L.lin, (2015) Exploring Collaborative Learning, Springer Verlag Berlin


Please check the CLIL for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

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