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KS3/4 English: Oliver Twist 2 (1948)

Writing a descriptive piece from Oliver Twist's perspective

Main image of KS3/4 English: Oliver Twist 2 (1948)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicOliver Twist
Key WordsDickens, Victorian, Lean, pathetic fallacy, atmosphere, adaptation, senses, describe
Show full lesson spec

An extract in which London is seen from a country child's perspective

A useful extract for linking the coursework text to key writing skills (i.e., developing the students' writing through 'reading' a media text/text).

This lesson idea uses the film to enable the students to appreciate Victorian London, and to appreciate it from the perspective of a young, country-bred child. Students gain an understanding of how the senses (including emotions) re involved in any description, and uses visual stimuli to support their descriptive writing. Students revise note-taking skills and key writing skills (e.g. structuring a piece of writing and using language and punctuation for effect.

Lesson Objective

  • To understand how a writer and director use dialogue and sound to built the reader's/audience's awareness of a place and to learn how to apply these in writing to imagine.


Show the students several adjectives (from a word bank) and ask them to choose a location to which each adjective might apply (e.g. a busy city, a country town, a farm, a tropical island etc.)

Ask the students to divide up all the adjectives between the places suggested, or other places of their own choosing, and to be prepared to explain their reasoning behind linking these places.

Students feedback to one another, with their reasons. This would be a useful starter for explaining to the students that alternative interpretations in English are an excellent way of demonstrating the depth of a student's skills in critical analysis.


Main Attraction

Explain to the students (or recap) what is required of them in a piece of writing to describe. What should the reader's experience be when reading such a piece of work? What does the piece of writing need to include in order to achieve this?

Explain to the students that the senses play a major part in writing to describe, (including, among these the feelings and thoughts of the person describing).

Ask the students to prepare to take notes about Oliver's sensory experience of London, when he arrives there for the first time. This might be organised by asking students to draw a senses chart (example in appendix one) as a fast and simple way of organising their ideas. (Extension: ask brighter students to think up similes that might effectively describe Oliver's experience of London.)

Show students the film extract of Oliver's arrival in London, and ask students to complete their notes/senses chart.

Ask students to feedback in pairs about the adjectives/nouns they recorded to represent Oliver's experience of London in their opinion (for about 1-2 minutes). Then ask students to choose their best idea and to feed back to another pair. (2 -3 minutes to allow all four to speak)

Now ask students to write a piece of descriptive writing, from Oliver's perspective, about his first experience of London, by writing a letter to another child in the workhouse he left. The students should focus on trying to capture Oliver's experience (i.e. they should consider the scene from a child's point of view, while not expressing surprise at the typically Victorian features!)


End Credits

The students should swap books and underline or tick each instance of writing in their partner's book, where one of the senses was used by their partner. Students should record below their partner's work the senses that the partner used.

If time allows show the students the film extract one more time, and ask the students if there's anything that they felt they adapted from the film particularly effectively, and why. Was there anything they felt they could have improved upon, after seeing the clip a second time?


External Links

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Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Oliver Twist (1948)Oliver Twist (1948)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of Lean, David (1908-1991)Lean, David (1908-1991)

Director, Writer, Editor

Thumbnail image of Dickens on FilmDickens on Film

The 19th Century literary giant has long been a favourite of filmmakers