Tag Archives: shaun the sheep

A Video Lesson Template

6 Jun

This is a lesson template that works with any age, level or video clip – as long as the clip doesn’t have any dialogue.  Short animated videos or clips are best, and there are plenty out there.  My personal favourites, especially for young learners, are Shaun the Sheep or Tom & Jerry as these not only have a musical soundtrack that reflects the action going on, but also a large range of sound effects to give clues to the action.


(1) Learners listen to the audio of the clip (or if it is a long clip, maybe the first minute or two) without seeing the visuals.  In pairs, they then predict what they think is happening.  Nominate some of the learners to describe their predictions.

(2) Learners watch the clip.  Do feedback on their predictions.

(3) Divide the class into two groups.  Group A has to write down all of the characters and objects they can remember.  Group B has to write down all of the actions they can remember.  Monitor and provide input and assistance as necessary.

(4) Watch the clip again so the groups can check their lists for accuracy and add any additional items they need to.

(5) Pair the learners with one from group A and one from group B and ask them to write a synopsis of the clip.  At this stage, I also highlight a number of tenses I expect the learners to use (for example narrative tenses).  Or if I am doing this as part of a revision & review lesson, some of the recent language points that we have worked on, and I ask the learners to make sure that at least one example of each is included in their summary.  Monitor and provide input and assistance as necessary.

(6) Feedback and error correction.

(7) An optional extension is for the learners to write some dialogue for part or all of the clip and to perform it with the clip running in the background.  Though this can get a bit unwieldy if you have a large class!


Kieran Donaghy, the man behind Film English, has just posted “The Seven Best Short Films for ELT Students“.  I’ve seen two of them that I think would work with this template – The Present and Soar – I haven’t seen all the others, so I couldn’t say.  But if you’d like to use something a bit more meaningful and thoughtful than Tom & Jerry, then these will almost certainly be worth a look.


Video Lesson Framework – short animations

12 Jun

It’s getting close to the end of the year, when it starts getting difficult for our students to maintain their motivation for English and when teachers are busier with testing and reports and the like.  My students have been clamouring for a video lesson for weeks now, but I always feel as though I would be short changing them with a feature length film – so my concession to their desperate desire is the cartoon.

I have in the past used this lesson framework with Tom & Jerry  cartoons – they tend to be around the ten minute mark and as there’s no dialogue they work well for lower level classes and especially well with young learner classes.  That said, some of the content is quite dated and is what you might call “a product of it’s time” – in short you might want to review them to make sure they fit your context before using them in class.

shaun-charactersMore recently I prefer using Shaun the Sheep episodes – it helps that I have a wide range of these DVDs at home!  But you can also find them on You Tube (as below).

The framework is quite simple and doesn’t involve much in the way of language input, the focus here is more on giving learners a springboard for language production instead – and engagement and fun!

(1) Show learners pictures of the principal characters and ask if they recognise them.  Give learners a copy of the images (or given them one character image per pair).  Learners write a brief biography of each character – either based on knowledge or imagination.  This could include where they live, what they like eating, what they like to do etc.  (@10 minutes)

(2) Play the first two (or three) minutes of the episode, but with SOUND ONLY.  Learners then write down what they think happened.  You can feed in additional language as required, and reformulate their ideas into a mind map / spidergram on the board. (@5 minutes)

(3)  Play the first two (or three) minutes again, this time with video and audio.  Ask for content feedback on what they saw, whose ideas (from stage 2) was it closest to?  Have they seen the episode before?  What do they think happens next?

Now clean the board and divide it into three sections – divide the class into three groups and allocate each group a section.  This can be done as two groups if you have a small class or four groups if you have a large one!  Each group has to come up with a list of actions they think will occur in the second half of the video.  With stronger groups, you can make the list longer (e.g. 10 items), with weaker groups it can be shorter.  (@10 minutes)

(4)  Watch the remainder of the video as a board race – whenever a group sees something they wrote on the board, they shout “STOP” and run up to the board to tick it off, sit down again and shout “PLAY!”  This does make this section very stop-start, so I’d recommend watching it again afterwards without interruption, which can also let the groups check for anything they missed.

Feedback on the ideas. (@15 minutes)

(5) Scripting.  Split the class into group A and group B.  Allocate group A to the first half of the episode and group B to the second half.  Tell the groups they’re going to write dialogue for the characters and they’ll act it out (i.e. do a voiceover).  Let them watch the episode again to take notes (these can be in their own language for lower levels).

The groups then script some dialogue for their half of the video.  Supply necessary language as appropriate.  (@20 minutes)

Play the animation again, but with the sound off – the groups perform their dialogues.  Feedback on performances.  (@10 minutes)

The timings are approximate, but I think this is probably between 60 and 75 minutes, depending on the level and size of the class.

Have fun!