Movie Genres for English Learners

Audience enjoying movie at the cinema
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Movies (or films) have become an important part of almost everybody's life. Hollywood, Bollywood and many other film centers make a wide variety of films to keep us entertained. This lesson focuses on encouraging students to discuss some of their favorite films by asking students to discuss examples of different films they like. Next, students write short plot summaries to share with each other. 

Aim: Conversation about films to practice and learn new vocabulary related to movies / films

Activity: Initial conversation followed by group work for writing practice

Level: Intermediate


  • Start the lesson by asking students which type of films there are. Make a few suggestions of recent films using some of the film types to get students started. 
  • Provide a sheet with quick definitions of different film types. 
  • Have students get into small groups and try to come up with at least one film for each type of film.
  • Introduce the idea of a plot. As a class, choose a movie with which everyone is familiar. Write a quick plot summary together on the board.
  • Each student then chooses a film and writes a short plot summary for the film.
  • Have students get into pairs. 
  • Students describe their chosen films to each other. Students should take notes on each other's films.
  • Students switch partners and describe the plot of their first partner's film to another student.

Speaking About Movies / Films

Exercise 1: Movie Types 

Try to come up with one example for each type of film.

Exercise 2: Plot Summary 

You can describe movies by speaking about their plot. Think of a movie you've enjoyed and write up a plot summary. 


The plot is the general story of the movie. For example, Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl doesn't love boy back. Boy finally convinces girl that he's the right guy. 

Types of Films

Provide students with these brief descriptions of the following common film genres.


Horror films feature lots of monsters such as Frankenstein, or Dracula. The object of horror films is to make you scream and be afraid, very afraid!


Action films are films in which the heroes have lots of battles, do incredible stunts and drive fast. 

Martial arts

Martial arts films feature martial arts such as Judo, Karate, Taekwondo and so on. Bruce Lee made very famous martial arts films.


Adventure films are like action films, but they take place in exotic places. Adventure films include films about pirates, historical adventures such as sailing around the world and space exploration. 


There are many different types of comedy films. In general, comedies make you laugh - a lot!


Romance films are love stories made to melt our hearts with stories of people finding each other and falling in love. Many romances are romantic comedies.

Romantic comedy

Romantic comedies are sweet films that include romance, but also lots of funny moments as well. 


A mockumentary is a type of joke documentary. In other words, the film is like a documentary, but about something that doesn't really exist. Mockumentaries are often comedies, such as "Borat."


A documentary is a film that investigates some real-life story that is very interesting for a number of reasons. Many documentaries look at the causes of world problems or new types of scientific discoveries. 


Animation films are sometimes cartoons such as Disney films. However, with computer animation, many cartoons are now animation films. Animation films use computer graphics to make elaborate stories of adventure, comedies, and more. 


Biographical films focus on someone's life story. These films are usually about very famous people. Biographical films are also often documentaries. 


Disaster films are a type of adventure film. Unfortunately, disaster films focus on horrible things happening to us like the end of the world films of 2012.


Superhero films are also a type of adventure film. These films feature superheroes from comic books such as Superman, Batman, and Spiderman.


Science-fiction films are set in the future and might be about other planets, or just about the future of our planet Earth. Science-fiction films often feature many elements of adventure films such as chases and battles.


Drama films are often sad stories about difficult situations in life such as fighting cancer or difficult love stories. 

Historical drama

Historical dramas are based on real events that happened in the past that are historically important.


Thrillers are spy or espionage stories that are similar to adventure films, but often feature international spy rings, or countries trying to find out secrets about each other. 

Detective story

Detective stories focus on solving crimes. Usually, there is a detective who must find out who committed a crime before the criminal commits other horrible crimes. 

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Movie Genres for English Learners." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Beare, Kenneth. (2021, September 8). Movie Genres for English Learners. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "Movie Genres for English Learners." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).