English Language; Drama & Speech; Social Etiquette. Est. 1986, Hong Kong


01 April 2016

Inside Out – Teaching about Emotions

“Inside Out” is an animated movie set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl called Riley who moves to a new town. The movie tells us how various emotions affect her as she makes this move. What makes this story particularly vivid (memorable) is the emotions that she feels are depicted as human-like characters (this is called personification) that live in her mind to control how she feels. The movie also tells us how memories are made and stored in different parts of our brain. Seeing this movie would be a good starting point to teach about emotions – when certain emotions are appropriate to a situation, how to control them and so on. We describe our feelings using adjectives, so this would also be a good way to teach adjectives and how to put oneself “into another’s shoes” (this is an idiom about seeing something else from another’s perspective).

These are the emotions that Riley feels in the movie:

  • Joy
  • Disgust
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sadness

Why would she experience all these emotions?

After seeing the movie, you could ask the language learner, if they had to move to a new country where they knew no one, what emotion would they feel? Would they feel all the emotions listed above?

After listing adjectives relating to the emotions listed above (this could be done as a “timed exercise”, say 5 minutes to write down as many as they can), the language learner could then write a story about a new situation that they experienced and how it affected them. Another task would be to select an appropriate passage from a work of fiction and ask the language learner to highlight any “emotion” words they find.

Another related task would be to discuss experiences and how they become “memories” and whether we can adequately recall them a long time after the event. This could lead onto a story-writing exercise about the learner’s “best” or “worst” memory.