Learn English: A Short ESL Video Lesson

Here’s a fun, no prep 15-minute activity that gets students writing and speaking simple past tense sentences. Use this lesson to help students learn English grammar and vocabulary or as a review to check accuracy. I’ve used this English lesson with great success with high beginner+ students, from elementary to university.

ESL Video Lesson

The purpose of this video lesson is to get students to produce simple past tense sentences that describe the actions in a video. There are two basic patterns: sentences with a negative form and a positive form.

Step 1 Review Basic Grammar

On the board, write a few word prompts. Ask students to produce orally two past tense sentences for each prompt. Here is one example:

  • John –  eat – apple
  • John didn’t eat an apple.
  • John ate an apple.

Step 2 Introduce Video

Provide a simple introduction. Students will see many different actions. After the video, they will describe what happened.

Don’t say much about the video title Unsatisfying; check comprehension after watching.

Step 3 Watch Video

It’s about 70 seconds long.


Step 4 Pair Work

Ask students to work in pairs and remember as many actions as possible; they write once sentence to describe each action.

Step 5 Stop and Start

Play video again and pause after each completed action. Ask students to shout out a descriptive sentence.

Step 6 Writing

Ask students to write one complete and accurate sentence for each action. They may need hints to remember the actions. Display or write this list on the board.

  1. teddy bear
  2. vending machine
  3. spoon
  4. basketball
  5. dart
  6. bread
  7. nail
  8. egg
  9. domino
  10. DVD
  11. golf ball
  12. download
  13. pinball machine
  14. gas pump
  15. rocket

Step 7 Stop and Start Again

Play video one last time. Stop and start for each separate action. Ask students to shout out full and proper descriptive sentences.

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