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ESL forum > Games, activities and teaching ideas > Film about American History    

Film about American History


Film about American History
Hi everybody,
I need some help from you. I would like to show my students a film about American History. They are twelve years old and know nothing about it. Could you recommend me some of them?
Thanks in advance!

17 Mar 2011      

United Kingdom

Well, how many 12 year-old American kids know anything about Spanish history? I shouldn ´t worry too much on that score. 

Hollywood ´s obviously a great source for the popular American perception of its own history - usually highly entertaining but also abysmally inaccurate historically. I ´m sure your kids already love this type of movie : ) There ´s a lovely wee corrective on 3 classic ´Hollywood ´ movies about the (American) War of Independence from the BBC ´s History Magazine here, if you ´re interested. It also brings into focus the question of  ´whose American History?´ (Native Americans, African Americans, Anglos, Scotch-Irish, Irish, Italians, Latinos etc etc)

(for those who can ´t be bothered to check the above link, the three films are Drums along the Mohawk (1939), Revolution (1985) and The Patriot (2000))

17 Mar 2011     


I would go with The Patriot, since I feel students that age are going to get easily distracted while watching a documentary-like film.


17 Mar 2011     

United States

It kind of also depends on what you want.  Is it really about seeing a bit of history or entertainment.  Those films that were listed are historical fiction.  That means even though they are based on some historical events the main portion is fiction.  Why not some short films about certain topics that can be found on the History Channel?
Pick some things the student ´s like or special events and watch those.  There is also a section called America eats and talks about the history of certain foods and short overviews of holidays.
There was also an ABC Saturday morning cartoon that are usually only about 3 to 5 minutes long that gives brief history and how the American government works.  It used to be on but don ´t think it is anymore.   You can still find some on Youtube.  Sorry don ´t have any links, my proxy is not working again and Youtube doesn ´t work where I am.

18 Mar 2011     


Forrest Gump has a lot of History (Kennedy, Vietnam, Apple ...)

18 Mar 2011     


Dear Alamaz,


If it makes you feel any better, our Spanish teacher did try to teach us a bit about Spanish history.  But, if it makes you feel worse, all I learned were two vague facts from countless lessons:


1. There is a sound difference from Spain and Mexico that is a result of one of the Spanish kings speaking with a lisp and everyone imitating it.. True or false? I will never know.  Who was this King? I am sure she said it but I forgot it.


2. There was a lot of inbreeding going on in the royal families and there was one sadistic emperor who could not figure out how to procreate.. but enjoyed torturing people by his or her  genitals.. True or False? Again, I will never know. Which king? I have no idea!


Probably didn’t help you’re feelings out on it.. but she did try to teach us something! =)

Thank you,


18 Mar 2011     

alien boy

nice suggestions there Roneydirt - very age appropriate & short enough to use in lessons with a complete viewing!
I ´ll have a look at those ideas myself!

18 Mar 2011     

United States

If its just for fun-- Nicolas Cage ´s National Treasure movies are not bad for explaining many parts of US history (mainly in the area of designing the new government)

18 Mar 2011     


Thanks a lot for your repllies. I had thought the history about the conquest of the far west or something about the native Americans.  I am a bit lost.
I ´ll look all of your proposals and try to get the best option.
Once again thank you very much for your help!!

18 Mar 2011