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To Do List

Posted on February 26, 2012 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around an inspiring short film called To Do List about what we do in our everyday lives. The lesson also encourages students to reflect on their own language learning and how they can improve it.



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Language level: Pre-intermediate (A2) – Intermediate(B1)

Learner type: All ages

Time: 45 minutes

Activity: Watching a short film, discussion, writing a to do list

Topic: To do lists, reflecting on learning a language

Language: comparatives more and less

Materials: Short film

Downloadable materials: to do list instructions

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Step 1

Write to do list on the board. Ask the students if they know what one is. Tell them it is a list a person makes to help them to remember to do things or to start to do something important. Ask them if they ever make to do lists. Ask them what kind of things they put on these lists.

Step 2

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film called To Do List. Ask them to note down what things the lists says to do more and less of.

Show the film.

Step 3

Get feedback. Here’s the complete list:

Read more

Browse less

Meet more

Chat less

Play more

Work less

Bike more

Drive less

Travel more

Plan less

Give more

Keep less

Write a script

Take a class

Make a mess

And if it doesn’t work out, start over

Step 4

Put your students into pairs and ask them to discuss the advice in the film, and to say if they could do the same things in their own life.

Step 5

Tell your students you would like them to write a to do list to help them improve their English. Put them in small groups and tell them to come up with a to do list of 10 things to do more of related to learning English inside and outside the classroom.

Give them some examples: take more risks, listen to more music in English, speak more in class. Give students 5 minutes to come up with their lists. After 5 minutes get feedback from all the groups.


Ask your students to create their own to do list to help them improve their English for homework.

In the following class give them feedback on their lists and encourage them to actually do the things on their lists.

I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains ad-free and takes many hours a month to research and write, and hundreds of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy or value in it, please consider supporting Film English with a monthly subscription, or by contributing a one-off payment.

Monthly subscription

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28 thoughts on “To Do List

  1. Really good lesson plan for my busy student teachers, most of whom juggle studies, teaching and household responsibilities. Thank you for sharing. Ruth

      • Hi Kieran,

        I did the lesson last night. The sts loved it and the lesson went really well. I changed the lesson a little.
        I started with a live listening, which involved me telling the sts a story about all the things I had forgotten to do over the weekend and all the hassle it had caused me. After I had finished they had to brainstorm ways to help me solve this problem of forgetting things. Diaries, alarms, post-it notes, eating fish (omega 3) to help improve my memory all came up. I boarded ‘to do list’ and broke it down into list and then ‘to do’ and the sts got the idea. I explained that a ‘to do list’ was not just for day to day things. This lead into the video nicely.
        The first time watching the video, I asked the sts not to write anything down, but to tell which two words were repeated throughout the film. (more and less). For the second time, I split the class in half and made one side the more group and the other the less group. They had to write down the phrases that included these words. After, we boarded all the words and concept checked some of the more difficult ideas, such as keep less and give more etc.
        The next part involved the sts writing there own lists, but based around the more or less idea. Writing 5 things for each. They then compared with their partner and explained why they had put these things. I did my own on the board to provide a model and give some ideas. Because some of the same ideas came up between the sts, such as speak more/study more English, it lead into a collaborative to do list for ways the class could improve their English outside the classroom. In groups they brainstormed first, then came together to write the final list.

        Thanks for the lesson idea. Keep up the good work.


        • Hi Adam,
          The way you’ve used the materials sounds great, the students seem to have been really engaged. Thanks for letting me know how it went.
          All the best,

    • Hi Marta,
      Unfortunately, it’s only in English. Maybe you could do the other stages, but without the film and lead students into writing their to-do lists about how they could improve their Spanish.
      All the ebst,

  2. I used this lesson with 18,19 year olds, they found the questions regarding LOVE hard to answer. However I do think it got them thinking about the questions so I left it at that, however they enjoyed the the rest and guessing who would win the contest was fun-

    Thank you

    • Hi Jacqueline,
      Thanks a lot for getting in touch. The questions about love are probably a bit difficult for teens to talk about, but I’m glad they enjoyed the film and the rest of the class.
      All the best,

  3. Hello from Greece!
    I used your video and instructions in class today and the students loved it!!
    First time ever. I got great feedback and will certainly try it again!
    Really inspiring! Thank you.

    • Hi Diana, Thanks a lot for your lovely comments, Diana. I really appreciate it. I’m really happy you like the lessons. All the best, Kierna

  4. Hi Kieran, I’m from Colombia and I found your page like 1 month ago. I’ve been using different lessons with my students – such as amar, the mirror, human rights – and I must say that they LOVE THEM. I’m going to use this one tomorrow. Thanks a lot for sharing these wonderful videos and ideas for conversational English classes.


  5. I used this lesson for my beginning/intermediate mixed level adult class. The students loved it. I tweaked it a little to make the focus on verbs and vocabulary development. I added a couple of steps where students had to match the verbs to pictures (for example drive less matched with a picture of a man driving a car). Then I used the pictures as clues in a crossword puzzle that used only the verbs. My students all got into it and really enjoyed the lesson. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hi! That’s a lovely idea! I was tinking of using it as a Get-to-know-you /ice breaking activity with a new group of advanced students. I’d like to show them the video and ask the what their TO DO LIST to learn (or improve their) English would be. So I can also discover their needs… what do you think about it?
    Thanks for sharing this! Lovely!

    • Hi Luisa,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment. Yes, using the video to discover their language learning needs sounds like a great idea; i think it’d work really well. Let me know how it goes, please.
      All the best,

  7. Hi Kieran,

    I used To Do List for my very last lesson of my TESOL practicum today, here in Australia. It went very well with a class of adult students from a number of countries (a small class of nine). The students were engaged throughout and it generated much animated discussion. I thought it was particularly good the way you created a group work activity encouraging students to write a To Do List for how to improve their English. There was a lot of great discussion amongst students and a real motivation from them to actually do some of the things on their lists. Once again, thank you for your inspiring lessons and for sharing them. I look forward to seeing the new material you post on your site. Debra