Lesson idea: introducing inventions

Lessons that involve designing a new invention or product have cropped up at 5 of the 6 summer schools I’ve worked at. I came across this video the other day that gives me a new lead-in to the topic…

After 44 seconds the video starts to reveal a series of interesting inventions to help with routine/household tasks. The inventions include a plate smashing machine, an automatic thumbs up/down hand, and a bed separator! (more…)

Lesson idea: introducing dreams and ambitions

You really must check out these two sites: All at C and Vocabulary in Chunks. I’ve started to use a lot more videos in class and these have some great resources on them!

Sometimes I come across resources, especially videos, that make me think ‘this would be really useful for introducing a lesson on [INSERT TOPIC HERE]’. I often forget about them if the topic doesn’t come up in the textbook soon. I’m going to start storing these videos in my ‘lesson ideas’ section, so I can come back to them when needed! I hope you find some of them useful too! When I get enough videos I’ll put them all into one post.

First up, here’s one I found yesterday. It’s about a radio-controlled car who creates their own little adventure:


Lesson idea: activities for short videos

I use a lot of videos in class these days. There’s no shortage of inspiration for film lessons online, and a bit in print too. We received a funnybonescopy of Film in Action last June, which Martin Sketchley reviewed here. This book (plus the accompanying website, Film English) has great resources and ideas for using videos in class. There are some other brilliant sites to bookmark – notably and Vocabulary in Chunks, which choose some great clips to build lessons around! The best resource I’ve ever come across for using movies in class was Shrek in the ESL Classroom by Brian Boyd (of Grammarman fame). When I create my own video resources I often find myself delving into this booklet.

Anyway, here’s something I made recently. It’s based on a classic kids cartoon called Funnybones (which were great books too). I used it with my 10 year olds during Halloween and it went down well.

This post is less about the actual video, and more about showing some example activities to use with short film clips. I hope it gives you some ideas for making your own lessons using videos, especially with YLs.

Here’s the clip:


Lesson idea: Introducing travel

The old ones are the best! Here’s a video of a guy travelling around the world and dancing. You’ve probably seen it. I’ve used it quite a few times to generate interest in the topic of travel/geography. Actually, I think it was the first ever video I used in class. There’s the clip along with some observation questions! There are plenty of other tasks you could do with this – I’ve also got students to write down as many places as they can remember seeing, then organise these by continent. Also, I’ve given students a list of travel related vocabulary before (monument, desert, town, village, beach, etc) and got them to add a tally mark to each word every time they see it. As always, share any interesting activities you try out in the comments, I’m always looking for new ideas. Enjoy!


Lesson idea: James Bond observation challenge

I don’t know about you, but I was quite disappointed with the latest Bond movie. I’m a big Bond fan, but I wish we could go back to the pun-filled days of Connery/Moore.

Anyway, here’s a fun observation challenge based on a clip from Tomorrow Never Dies. You could let the students watch the video first, then give them the questions and see what they remember. A nice end of the week activity. Enjoy!


Lesson idea: The planets

Check out this great video – I came across it during the summer school at British Council HCMC. We did an activity where students described what was happening on each of the 12 planets. Then they created a 13th planet themselves, displayed their drawings and descriptions around the room and we voted for the best one. It would be a nice follow-up activity if you’re doing a lesson related to space or the solar system.

Video by Andy Martin

A big thanks to Neil Reith for finding the resource and planning a great lesson, it was my favourite activity of the summer.

Lesson idea: quick conditionals review

Here’s a quick idea for revising some conditionals. I used this the other day and it worked well:

Ask students the following:

What would you do if you were the last person on earth?

Encourage creativity:

If I were the last man on earth, I’d fly a jumbo jet/drink every bar in the world dry/clone myself/etc

Get the students to continue their sentences as a ‘conditionals chain’, e.g. (more…)

Lesson idea: using sports commentaries in class

Have you ever heard of the ‘instantaneous present simple’? I hadn’t until a recent diploma module. Apparently it’s used to describe events or occurrences with some level of immediacy. You find it in newspaper headlines (like ‘Brad marries Angelina’), verbs of communication (‘your mother tells me that…’), and references to the future (‘the bus leaves at 6’). I didn’t really get what it was to be honest, until I considered the example of sports commentaries: (more…)

Lesson idea: exploring the characters in a short movie

Here’s a great video to shape your own lesson around. In a previous blog I mentioned a few websites where you can find one minute long videos, which are great for a lesson starter. Here’s my favourite:


I think this is a great video to introduce a whole range of topics – the senses, morals, emotions, etc. I had 45 minutes to spare and wanted a creative activity to get students sharing their emotional responses to the film.

Here’s what I did. There wasn’t a particular language focus (the video itself has no dialogue), just a chance to get students expressing themselves. If you’ve any ideas on how to relate this to a particular language point please comment!


Video resource: a one minute guide to planet earth

Here’s a fluency based activity to challenge those adult advanced classes. I am always on the hunt for activities that will stretch my strongest students, and get them talking about rather alien topics. After all, if you’ve mastered a language you should be able to discuss pretty much anything, right?

I stumbled across this great video whilst searching for short films to use as intros. Incidentally, these three links have some awesome videos if you want to do the same:

I’ve based a few activities around this video from A One Minute Guide to Planet Earth. The narrator speaks very fast but the concept is great. You’ll find the transcript attached below

Aims: Students will produce a one minute summary of a chosen/designated topic

Students will discuss personal responses to a text describing life on planet earth