Engaging Video Clips

Level: B1+

Age: Young Learners to Adults

Theme: Friends, Adjectives, Picture description, Present simple, Present continuous

Tell students that they’re going to watch a video about Harvey and his best friend.

Why do you think they are good friends?
Who do you think Harvey and Rabbit are?

Further questions to ask before watching the clip:

Why do we need friends?
Why are your friends important?
What do you do together?

Watch the video, do you do these things with your friends?

Watch the video again, write as accurately as possible all the things Harvey and Rabbit do.

  • They play on a see-saw together.
  • They have their photos taken in fancy dress in a photo booth.
  •  Harvey buries Rabbit in the sand and makes him into a mermaid. 
  • Harvey rescues Rabbit from a burning house and resuscitates him by licking him. 
  • They steal sausages from the butcher’s and Rabbit drives the getaway car.
  • Harvey makes a compilation tape for Rabbit and dances to it on his hind legs while Rabbit listens on headphones.
  • They lie down on their backs in the grass watching cloud shapes.

I sometimes stop the video at different parts and get students to tell their partner what is happening / has happened / is going to happen.  This was particular helpful for Cambridge exam preparation such as PET and First where candidates have to describe pictures.

I put the following images in a power point slide:

(FRIENDS! a-la-la-poo-poo-la-la-laaaaaa..)


Brain Games: In Living Colour

Level: B1+

Age: Young Learners, Teens, Adults

Theme: Colours, The Brain, Perception

Brain Games is another great National Geographic TV show my students suggested and it really does introduce some thought-provoking concepts to the lessons.  There are loads of really interesting episodes which can be used to engage students and stimulate colourful(!) classroom discussions.

This particular clip is from Season 3 Episode 1 and has some great brain games related to colour. The games involving the beach and castle really surprised me.

Here’s the full episode:

Questions Forms – Monty Python – The Bridge Keeper

Level: Intermediate B1+

Age: Teens, Adults

Language aim: Question formation

Themes: Comedy

Monty Python are one of the most famous (if not the most famous!) English comedy collectives ever and rank among my top comedians.  I try and use comedy clips whenever I can as British humour is an extremely important part of British national identity.

I have used the following video clip with teenage classes and many students found it amusing.  The surrealist nature of Monty Python jokes can be tricky and sometimes requires a bit of explaining which may reduce the comedy value.  I used this clip when reviewing question forms and specifically in lessons where I’ve wanted the students to prepare their own quiz questions.

If students are willing they can act out their own Monty Python Bridge of Death scene with questions of their own choice.


Do or Die? Raging Bull

Level: B1+

Age: Teens to Adults

Theme: Animals, Conditionals, Life or Death situations

Do or Die is a great TV series from the National Geographic Channel and so guarantees lots of informative engaging content that can be used in class.

Here are some warm-up questions that I set (copy and past onto preferred presentation program:

  1. What are the most popular sports in the USA/Middle East/Europe/Asia?
  1. Do you know about any strange sports that are unique to particular countries?

Gaelic football / Bull fighting / Basque pelota / Highland games

Watch the start of the video clip, did your group mention these sports?

Answer this question:

  1. How many people a year typically attend the major sports stadiums in North America? 277 million

Stop the video clip

Next section:

  1. What are the bulls selectively bread to possess?

Enhanced aggression, strength and stamina

  1. What speed can a bull reach when charging?

40 mph

  1. What is being hit by bull like?

An 1,100 pound battering ram

What would you do?

Stop video and ask question in pairs / groups

Then show the three options on the clip.

What does flank / bleacher mean?

Which option would you choose?

Here’s what you should consider.

Q1.  What do loud noises do to the bull? Raise its hearbeat.

Q2.  How far can a large fighting bull toss a full grown man?

More than 30 feet / 10 feet higher than a single story house.

Q3.  How big is a bull’s fight zone? 100 feet

Make your final choice: A, B or C.

Stop clip, students pick final choice and write on mini whiteboards.

Which choice is correct / wrong? Why?

A – Move towards the bull’s flanks: Lateral positioning of eyes, 330 degree panoramic vision, blind-spot behind, bucking bull not appropriate.

B – Wave a Light-Coloured Cloth: matador waves red cape, white has opposite effect? No.  Bulls are colour blind.

C – Run down the bleachers: forelegs shorter than hind legs. Poor depth perception shadows/downwards slopes.

Who survived!?