Skip main navigation

Images and settings

‘Setting’ in film is the concept that covers all the dimensions of place, space, and time. How much can we glean from a film image?

In this step we will focus on one aspect of the image – Setting – one of the Cs and Ss that we introduced in Step 1.5.

We will ask you to watch the opening sequence of the film from which we extracted a still in the previous step, and show you how to build language and cultural learning around aspects of setting.

‘Setting’ in film is the concept that covers all the dimensions of place, space, and time. The extent to which we are able to ‘decode’ the visual information we’re given about a place will depend on our own context – where we’re from, where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. It will also depend on what other films, photographs, and stories we are familiar with.


Watch the sequence from the film in this step, and comment on what you think it is showing you about place and setting. Where is it? What can you see? Are there signs for a particular country? Or atmosphere? What do the props and objects in the space show us? The car? The bottles? The food and drink? And what can we infer about the place from the characters? From their body language, gestures, and facial expressions? Can you guess what the storyline might be? Is any of this information culturally or socially specific do you think? Is it different from the cultures or behaviours you might be more familiar with? Post your thoughts in the comments section. Or if you prefer, annotate the ‘Tell Me’ grid and add it to padlet.

Extension Activity

It is very interesting to make a distinction between what we can confidently say we know about the content of an image, and what we only infer, through implied suggestion. How much can you confidently say you know about the content of these images? If you (or your learners) are annotating the ‘Tell Me’ grid, maybe put an ‘I’ next to information your are inferring and a ‘K’ next to information you are certain about.

This article is from the free online

Short Film in Language Teaching

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education