You appear to be using a browser that is no longer supported. You may find that you are unable to use all features on the site. We recommend upgrading or changing your browser, if possible.
Skip to main content
Search... Open this section

S1/S2 Resource for the multilingual film 'On a Train'


Film Title: 'On a Train'

Genre: Live-action, comic drama

Synopsis: Two young men are travelling by train. They can’t seem to communicate.

Suggested age group for this film activity: S1/S2 upwards

Place of this activity sheet within Modern Languages Curriculum:

Train travel and distances from point A to point B; European countries, nationalities and cities; Language of introductions

Cross curricular and inter disciplinary areas (subjects):

German; Geography; P.S.E. (taking responsibility; planning a journey; communicating with others (verbal/non-verbal)

Curriculum for Excellence Outcomes

MLAN 3-06a; MLAN3-06b; MLAN 3-07a; MLAN3-08a; MLAN3-13a; MLAN3-13b; MLAN 3-14a; MNU 3-09b; MNU-4-09a; MNU 3-10a

Resources required (technical, paper, books, etc.)

Computer and projector to view the film as a class. Maps of Europe; internet (for train timetables, distances, prices, etc.) paper; calculator

Prior Learning

Pre-viewing or Warm-up Activities (optional):

Research the names and locations of the main European countries and cities, teaching relevant vocabulary in the modern language (German or French)



Watch the film without the visuals (audio only) up to the point where the two characters have establish each others' nationalities. Pose questions such as:

  • Where do you think they are?
  • What age are the characters?
  • What might the setting be?
  • What is the conversation about?
  • Which of the two characters do you feel more empathy with?
  • What does the music add to the atmosphere of the film?

Watch the entire film.

Main Activities

Carry out an MIE grid analysis on the film in class (Similarities, Surprises, Patterns and Puzzles).

Extension Activities

Vocabulary, phrases and grammar lists appropriate to the film

Provide a sheet with key phrases from the film and go over meaning, i.e.

Ellen: ”Das ist kein Problem für mich.”; Holger: “Ich habe keine Lust mehr…” etc.

a. Emergency Phrasebook

In groups, pupils decide on what phrases they would consider most essential if in a similar situation to the characters in the film. They should note down the key phrases in English and German and/or French. The emergency phrasebook should have illustrations and could be laminated.

b. European Trip

Your group has a budget of a set amount of Euros. Plan an Interrail trip round Europe, deciding upon your preferred route, the costs involved and the distances to be covered each day. Present your route in the form of a powerpoint presentation (in German) to the rest of the class. E.g. "Am ersten Tag fahren wir von... nach... ist 70 km von... entfernt. Wir fahren mit dem... Zug...".

A short description of each town to be visited can be included.

c. Communication Problems

Issue on person in each group with a card on which is written a specific problem which they have to try to communicate to the others in the group, albeit the others in the group all speak a different language (e.g. German). You have at your disposal a small dictionary. Examples of problems could be:

i) you suffer from asthma and have run out of inhaler

ii) your gold ring has fallen down the train toilet

iii) you have found out that you are on the wrong train

No English is allowed.

Moving Image Education

Consider the questions:

What are the comic elements in the film?

What type of music and how does it contribute to the atmosphere of the film?

Watch the camera movements. Where is most of the action shot?

What do you think is trying to be conveyed about the relationship between the two characters, e.g. When the one character is filmed running along the platform?

Is there a lot of colour in the film?

Assessment Possibilities

a. Giving a presentation in German talking about travel, using numbers and distance

b. Skills in map-reading

c. Skills in numerical calculations involving time and distance

d. Listening for information

e. Communication in groups

f. Decision-making

Compiled by Anke Hilt & Jacqueline Mackenzie (2010)