GET OFF YOUR PHONE! A free video-based lesson plan

Using short video in ELT is fast becoming a must. People watch videos for fun: youtube, for example, is the most popular platform for teens, so it makes sense to harness the attraction of video in our teaching. Videos can be watched anywhere – in class, at home, or on the bus, so our students can use them flexibly. Videos provide visual clues that aid comprehension, give meaning to language and demonstrate paralinguistic features. Video can be used to contextualise grammar and vocabulary and provide a window on culture, but perhaps even more importantly, a well-chosen video can act as inspiration for student production.

In this post, I’d like to share with you a free video lesson plan on a topic relevant to teachers, students and just about everyone else!


Level: intermediate and above



1) Put students in groups of four. Each student chooses a question from the list below without telling their classmates what they’ve chosen. Allow students 30 seconds to think, then each student in turn answers their question to the group. The group decide which question is being answered.

  1. What are the disadvantages of mobile phones?
  2. How would your life be better if you didn’t have a mobile phone?
  3. Who are more phone-obsessed: teens or adults? Why?
  4. What annoys you about mobile phones?
  5. Tell me about a time someone using their mobile phone annoyed you
  6. Should schools ban mobile phones? Why?

2) Individually get students to brainstorm as many everyday situations when using a phone is a bad idea (eg having a shower) as they can. Then, they share their ideas with their partner, then two pairs share together, so the group of four have the same ideas.

3) Watch the video up to 0:47. In groups students discuss A) how many of their ideas  came up in exercise 2) and B) how many situations from the video they can remember.

4) Provide students with these screenshots taken from the video (using the snipping tool). Students label the protagonists in each screenshot. You can provide them with the answers afterwards, or just make this a match-up (see answers below)

5) Have students create a dialogue between two characters (imagine the shark, the shower, the toddler and the man on anesthetic on the operating table can speak). Max 8 lines (4 per character).

You can include: 

-How the situation is making you feel
-How phones are changing your relationship
-Apologies, threats

You might provide an example first:

A) Can you put the phone down please?
B) Wait, I just need to see if Real Madrid won.
A) Doctor, this is a triple heart bypass operation. Concentrate!
B) Just a tic, I need to see if my wife has done the shopping
A) Doctor, I feel faint!
B) Be patient my dear patient, I want to know if it’s going to be sunny tomorrow
A) Do……beep…..beep…..beep

6) Pupils act out their conversations in front of the class. Can their classmates guess which situation they’re acting out?

7) What is the video an advert for? Get ideas from the students then watch the rest of the video, from 0:47 onwards. Is the ad effective?

8) Productive task: In groups, students think of ways to get people off their phones. This can be done as a presentation, a poster, or even a video presentation, shared on a padletIf you want to give the students inspiration you could look here, here or here.

Why not give the lesson a try?

PS. Did you know?

Pearson have a range of coursebooks with high-quality video content from sources such as the BBC integrated into their methodology. For teens, have a look at Wider World. For teens preparing for Cambridge exams, check out Gold Experience second edition. For a general English adult course, Speakout is the answer.


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