Think in English with Adah

A TEFL blog: You have to train yourself to think in English

Lesson Plan on the Movie Inception

I’d like to share with you a lesson plan that I created for the movie sessions that we did 2 weeks ago. This wasn’t the first time for me to design a lesson plan based on a movie. So far I’ve gained enough experience in designing English training worksheets on family-friendly movies such as Kung Fu Panda, Romona and Beezus, and this time, the ultimate intellectual heist movie – Inception.  Call me an avid movie fan of Christopher Nolan!

Worksheet on the Movie Inception – Created by Adah Huang 

1.      Warm-up discussion

(1)   What do you like about the movie Inception? You may talk about the plot, action, visual effects,  emotions and music,  etc.

(2)   Which scene is your favorite? Describe what happens before, during and after. Explain why it is your favorite scene.

2.     Characters and roles match-up

 Draw lines between the characters and their corresponding roles in the heist dream: 

Question: Who is your favorite character? Why? Describe this person by mentioning their physical appearance, personality and how they remind you of someone in your real life.

3.      Analysis of the various layers of the heist dream 

The following graph is designed by me based on the director Christopher Nolan’s graph detailing the team’s path through the various layers of the heist dream.  

Please fill in the blanks in the graph marked by a question mark “?”by recalling what you have seen in the movie and getting information from your partner(s). I have filled in some suggested answers that are highlighted in blue.  

4.      Hypothetical questions “If I were/ could …, I would…”

(1)     If you were Cobb who is capable of entering the dream of a target person, whose dream would you go into? What information would you extract from that person’s subconscious mind?

(2)     If you were Cobb, would you shoot Mal who is just a projection in the hospital? 

(3)     If you could design a totem for yourself, what would it be?

(4)     If you could build your own world in your dreams, would you refuse to wake up to the real world and choose to live in your dreams? How long would you live in your dreams?

 Vocabulary list:

1.       heist [haist] n. the act of stealing or robbery

2.       point man: a soldier who goes in front of the others to look for danger

3.       to take point: to take the first and most dangerous position in a military team; to lead the challenge

4.      forger n. a person who makes illegal copies of money, documents, etc. in order to deceive people

5.      projection n. a form or structure for inner thoughts and feelings

6.      to sabotage /ˈsæbətɑːʒ/ v. to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something)

7.      architect  n. a person who is responsible for planning or creating a building, an idea or a situation

8.      labyrinth /ˈlæbərɪnθ/ n. a maze; a complicated series of paths, which it is difficult to find your way through

9.      to con: to trick somebody, especially in order to get money from them or persuade them to do something for you

10.   sedative /ˈsedətɪv/ n. a drug that makes somebody go to sleep or makes them feel calm and relaxed

11.   kick n. the sensation of falling, hitting water or a sudden rough movement that can wake the sleeper up

12.   corporate hotel (phrase) a hotel that belongs to a company

13.   avalanche /ˈævəlɑːnʃ/ n. a mass of snow, ice and rock that falls down the side of a mountain

14.   limbo n. a deep subconscious level where they may lose their grip on reality and be trapped indefinitely

15.   totem n. a personalized small object whose behavior is unpredictable to anyone except its owner to determine whether they are in another person’s dream


Metaphors in the Movie UP

A metaphor is the use of a word or phrase to refer to something that it isn’t. There is an obvious similarity between the word or phrase used and the thing described. In English, you don’t need to use the words “like” or “as” in a metaphor. See the following metaphors and you will understand the similarities between the two objects that are compared to each other immediately:  

Her eyes are diamonds. (Both her eyes and diamonds are dazzling, fascinating and attract your attention all the time.) 

Love is a rose that never withers. (Love is as beautiful as a rose and it also never dries up.) 

However, poorly-made metaphors fail to imply the direct similarity between the word or phrase used and the thing described. For example: 

Her eyes are mountains.

Love is a schoolbag.  

As UP is a stylized animation movie, every character and object (such as its physical appearance, shape and color) in the movie was designed by the animators and movie makers out of some reasons. There are metaphors everywhere in the movie.  

Now please do in-depth thinking on the metaphorical meaning behind the following elements from the movie. The first one has been done for you as an example.

1.      balloons => balloons are lighter than air; balloons can fly and soar; balloons means freedom and adventure; balloons explodes eventually so they imply risk and danger and it would be a quite sad ending for old Carl in his floating house; balloons can’t last forever; they are temporary just like Carl’s time ticking away towards the end of his life; the thousands of balloons that lifts up Carl’s house are like a thousand of unfettered thoughts from Carl’s square head; the bouquet of balloons is glorious and colorful, which reminds me of childhood and all the fun I had…

2.      savings in the bottle that Carl and Ellie put  

3.     Carl’s rectangular head  

4.      Russell’s Humpty Dumpty roundness 

5.      Charles Muntz’s triangular face and long pointed nose 

6.      Paradise Falls 

7.      Carl’s isolated house in the construction site 

8.      the real estate developer wearing a black suit and black sunglasses  

9.      Carl’s floating house 

10.    Russell’s badges 

11. Ellie’s scrapbook 

12. Carl dragging the floating house to Paradise Falls 

13. the flightless bird Kevin 

14. the talking dog Dug 

15. Charles Muntz’s dogs 

16. the furniture that Carl pushes off his house 

17. the 2 sofas that Carl and Ellie usually sit in 

18. the lightened house that soars again 

19. the falling house  

20.  Carl’s house landing on Paradise Falls eventually on its own


You may mention your interpretation of any of the elements by adding a comment to this article. Remember to use complete sentences! 

Paradise Falls in the movie UP is based off Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall in Venezuela. The production staff toured this area of Venezuela prior to the making of the film.

Angel Falls is the world’s highest waterfall, with a height of 979m (3,212ft) and a clear drop of 807m (2,647ft). It is located in the Canaima National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Canaima), in the Gran Sabana region of Bolivar State, Venezuela.The height of the falls is so great that before getting anywhere near the ground, the water is atomized by the strong winds and turned into mist. The mist can be felt a mile away. The base of the falls feeds into the Kerep River (alternatively known as the Rio Gauya) which flows into the Churun River, a tributary of the Carrao River.

Posted by adah at 01:56pm | Movie English | 9 comments