Roald Dahl’s The Witches

Posted by Speakeasy News > Thursday 05 November 2020 > Ready to Use

Roald Dahl’s The Witches was published in 1983, a typically twisted tale of witches who look like normal women and want to eliminate children by turning them into mice. A second film version, this time  by American director Robert Zemeckis, was scheduled for a November release. Like everything else, it's on hold for lockdown, but why not get your pupils ready to watch it with this spooky resource?

The film stars Anne Hathaway as the witches’ leader while Octavia Spencer, who was previously known for her parts in The Help and Hidden Figures, plays the good grandmother.

This A2 document is to be used together with the very beginning of the audio book extract read by Miranda Richardson.

NB: For the many of you who know the story, in the film, the narrator is turned back into a little boy at the end, unlike Dahl’s ending, where he lives out the rest of his life happily as a mouse, with his grandmother.

Vocabulary and grammar.

  • Physical description (common witch’s equipment and looks, verbs: wear, dress in, look like...)
  • Real witch’s characteristics (wig, claws, gloves, nostrils, toes...)
  • Verbs: pretend, attract, catch, transform into...
  • Present simple, past simple.


  • Pronunciation of <i> or <y>:
  • /ı/: witch, wig, film, broomstick, silly, think, kill... /aı/: fly, mice, recognise...
  • Pronunciation of <o>:
  • /ʌ/: gloves.../ɒ/: jobs.../u/: woman.../ı/: women.../əu/: clothes...

We suggest a follow-up activity with the film trailer: