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Tick Tock

Posted on October 2, 2012 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around an inspiring short film by Ien Chi and the theme of life. Students practise speaking, writing and reading, and use the second and third conditionals.


Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Advanced (C1)

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching a short film, writing a narrative, speaking and reading a short article

Topic: Life and death

Language: Second and third conditionals, and abstract nouns

Materials: Short film and newspaper article

Downloable materials: tick tock lesson instructions     second conditional questions     five regrets of the dying article



Step 1

Show students the questions in the document below. Ask them what all the questions have in common, they should be able to tell you that all of them are hypothetical questions using the second conditional. Put them into pairs and ask them to choose 4 questions which they would like to discuss. Once they have chosen their 4 questions get them to answer the qustions using the second conditional. After get feedback from the whole class.

Second Conditional Questions


Step 2

Write the following question on the board:

What would you do if you had 5 minutes to live?

Get your students to change partners and ask them to talk about what they would do. Next get feedback from the whole class. Tell them what you would do if you had 5 minutes to live.


Step 3

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film in which a man has 5 minutes to live.As they watch the film they should say what he does. At this stage don’t tell them that the film is not in chronological order. Show the film.



Tick Tock – short film by Ien Chi from Ien Chi on Vimeo.


Step 4

Get feedback from your students; they may well be a little surprised and confused as the film starts at the end of the 5 minutes. Ask them what they can remember. Put them in small groups and tell them they are going to watch the film again and this time they should prepare to tell the film in chronological order using narrative tenses. Show the film again and then give them 10 minutes to write their narratives.


Step 5

Get a student from each group to read out their narrative.


Step 6

Tell students that tehy are now going to watch the film in chronological order, as they watch they should check their narratives.



Step 7

Ask your students what they think of the film and how it makes them feel. Do they think the film has a message?


Step 8

Ask your students what words they saw in the film. Elicit the words and write them on the board:

cowardice, reputation, greed, indifference, laziness

Ask what type of word they are. If they don’ know explain that they are all abstract nouns. Ask them how the words relate to the story.


Step 9

Show the screenshot below from the  film or pause at 04:36. Ask them to discuss the quote from Steve Jobs. Ask them what they know about Steve Jobs. Do they agree with the quote?


Step 10

Ask students the following question:


What are the main regrets of dying people?

Give them time to think, put them in small groups and then ask them to discuss the question. After 5 minutes get feedback from the whole class.


Step 11

Tell your students they are going to read a short article entitled:

The 5 regrets of Dying People

Ask them to read the text and compare their answers in step 10 with the 5 regrets in the article.


Five Regrets of the Dying Article




Ask your students to write a short paragraph titled:

What I would do if I had 5 minutes to live.


I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Film English is a labour of love, it takes hundreds of hours and thousands of euros a year to sustain and provide free English language lesson plans. Keeping it a free, clean, ad-free experience — which is important to me and, I hope, to you — means it’s subsidised by the generous support of readers like you through donations. So if you find any inspiration, joy and stimulation in these English language lessons or if they help you teaching English, please consider a modest donation — however much you can afford.


18 thoughts on “Tick Tock

  1. Hi Kieran, I really love this lesson and the film. It’s so inspiring and beautiful, thanks a lot for sharing it. Sally

  2. Thanks for this film, Kieran. It’s the perfect way to review the conditionals while engaging students in truly meaningful dialogue.

  3. I find your site to be so inspiring. Your approach to using film in the classroom always has a very artistic and philosophical aspect to it.I have experimented with a few of your lessons and this one seems like another winner. I’m using it this week with my C1 class. Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  4. This looks like such an interesting and fun lesson! Thanks for all your work and creativity… can’t wait to use it in class tonight!

  5. Hi Kieran! I’ve discovered your site and let me tell you it’s a treasure!! The lessons are outstanding. I’ve used TICK TOCK. My students (17 year-olds) loved it. Thanks for sharing your precious work, which we all know takes precious hours!
    I guess it’s one of the most interesting resources I’ve come across lately…thanks again!!!

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