Friday 3 June 2011

The Terminal

Teacher's Note - Post updated 15/1/12 due to disappearing youtube clips.
The video comprehension is quite a long activity (20 minutes) and was designed to be used in a language lab / computer room while watching the DVD (worksheet below).  However Ex1 and Ex2 A-C can be done with the 2 youtube clips embedded here.

You are going to
  1. Discuss airports and flying
  2. Watch the beginning of the film "The Terminal" and do some comprehension activities.
  3. Do some online research on the man on whom the story of the film is based
  4. Do a pair-work speaking, listening, reading and writing activity from the TeachingEnglish website
  5. Write an IELTS task 2 question on refugees

The Terminal is a 2004 comedy-drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It is about a man trapped in a terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time cannot return to his native country, the fictitious Krakozhia, due to a revolution. The film is partially inspired by the story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri.

DVD on Amazon

1) You are going to watch part of a film about a man who lived in an airport.
 Before you watch. Discuss.
  • Do you like flying?
  • What things do you have to take if you fly to another country?
  • Do you like airports?
  • What must you do in an airport?
  • What mustn't you do?
  • Have you ever spent a long time delayed in an airport?
  • Would you like to live in an airport?
  • Where would you eat / sleep/ wash?

2) Watch the trailer. 
What do you find out about the main character?

Highlight below for answers 
  • His name is Viktor Navorski
  • He's just arrived in New York
  • There was a military coup in his country (Krakozhia) while he was flying
  • He must live in the airport terminal
  • He will find a job
  • He will make new friends, play matchmaker ( = someone who tries to arrange relationships or marriages between people), help a stranger and discover America

3) Watch the beginning of the film and do the 3 activities below
Watch the clip

A) Order the sentences.
You can drag and drop the sentences to the right number.

B - Answer. Highlight to see the answers.      
  1. What is Mr. Navorski doing in the United States?  Visiting
  2. Does he know anyone in New York?  No
  3. What does the guard take from Mr. Navorski?  Ticket and passport

C - Fill in the spaces with a suitable verb.     

Clips for Ex D and E not currently available on youtube.
D – The guard explains the rules. 
Put these modal verbs of permission, prohibition and obligation into the spaces. 
can, can, need, must, allowed, can’t, may

  1. Mr. Navorski is allowed to enter the International Transit Lounge.
  2. He may use food vouchers in the Food Court.
  3. He has a minute prepaid calling card. He can call home.
  4. He has pager in case they need to contact him
  5. He must keep it with him at all times.
  6. He can’t go out of the  International Transit Lounge
  7. There's only one thing he can do… Shop.

E - Put these sentences into the correct order (finishes 08:10 clip 2).
The first and last have been done for you.

  1. He tries to make a phone call
  2. He pulls the plugs on the lights and music
  3. He tries to sleep
  4. He sees the news= 1
  5. He breaks the girl's bag
  6. He shouts "Don't shoot!" = 9
  7. He loses his meal vouchers
  8. He makes an appointment with the cleaner for Tuesday
  9. He makes the chairs into a bed
All answers are in black and can be highlighted

Highlight the letters below to see the answers to ex E.




3) Reading and research

The film was partly based on the life of Mehran Karimi Nasseri . Go online, do a search for him and answer these questions.

  • What similarities and differences are there between Mehran and Viktor? 
  • Write some sentences. Use some language for comparing ( = both, also, as well...) and contrasting (= but, however, on the other hand, although...) 
eg Both Viktor and Mehran lived in a terminal.
     Viktor is from Krakozhia however Mehran is from...

  • How long did Mehran live in the terminal?
  • Where is he now?
  • Why do you think the film changes some details?  

4) Activities
From TeachingEnglish - An Interview with Sir Peter. A pair-work speaking, listening, reading and writing exercise for students who are at a good intermediate level or above. Time: at least an hour.

5) Discussion / Writing

  • Would you like to live or work in another country?
  • Why do many people emigrate (go to live and work in other countries)?
  • What problems do you think people have when they emigrate?
  • Why do people become refugees?
  • What problems do refugees have?
  • What can countries and governments do to solve these problems? 

Writing Topic
One of the major problems facing the world today is the growing number of refugees. The developed nations in the world should tackle this problem by taking in more refugees. To what extent do you agree with this opinion? (IELTS Task 2 Academic)

Video worksheet


  1. Hello David:)
    Perfectly prepared and interesting lesson. Also up-to-date, just have a look at this:
    This man became quite famous at Poland recently,


  2. Thanks Aleksandra! That's a really interesting link! Though I hope there aren't too many people in this situation.
    All the best

  3. Hi David,
    I really appreciate your work and also my Italian students. You are a great source of inspiration for me.

    1. Thanks for posting Giorgia, I'm glad it's of use to you and your students.
      All the best!