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On Time

Posted on January 14, 2013 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson is designed around a short film called On Time by Ted Chung in which a travelling salesman sells the future. Students describe an image, predict a story, watch a short film, speaking about time and write a story.

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

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 60 minutes

Activity: Describing an image, predicting a story, watching short film, speaking and writing

Topic: Time

Language: Expressions with “time”, adjectives to desribe emotions and narrative tenses

Materials: Short film and discussion questions

Downloadable materials: on time lesson instructions     time expressions questions

Step 1

Show your students this image.


Put them in pairs and ask them to describe what they can see in the image.



Step 2

Tell your students that the image is taken from a short film called On Time. Put the students into small groups and ask them to discuss the following questions:

What do you think the short film is about?

What story does the short film tell?

What do you think you will see and hear in the short film?

How does the image relate to the short film?

Why is the short film called On Time?

Give each group 5 minutes to discuss the questions, and then get feedback from the whole class.


Step 3

Now tell your students they are going to watch the film, as they watch they should compare their answers in step 3 with what they see and hear in the film.


ON TIME from Bianca Bodmer on Vimeo.

Step 4

Get feedback from the whole class and ask the following questions:

Did you like the film?

How did it make you feel?

Does the film have a message?


Step 5

Tell your students they are going to watch the film again; this time they should concentrate on Arthur, the main character, and use adjectives to describe how he is feeling at different stages in the film:

  • at the start when he is looking at the photo
  • when the salesman shows him the case
  • when he talks to the woman
  • when he signs the contract
  • when he boards the plane


Step 6

Put your students in pairs and ask them to discuss the following questions:

Would you like to have this case?

How could the case be useful?

Could the case be used in a bad way?


Step 8

Put students into pairs and give them the questions with expressions which all use time. Get students to ask their partner the questions.


Ask students to write narrative that describes the story of the film which starts with the words:


Once upon a time there was a man in an airport …


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.



22 thoughts on “On Time

  1. Pingback: On Time – A Short Film by Bianca Bodmer | Chestnut ESL

  2. Thanks Kieran,

    I think that the message of the film is in life you do not always get what we want, but the paths are always leading in the right direction time.


  3. I just wanted you to know how incredibly useful I’ve found your lesson plans. My upper intermediate and advanced students really enjoy and benefit from these wonderfully creative lessons. Thank you so much for your contributions.

  4. Hi Kieran,
    I just want to say THANK YOU for this beautiful, inspirational webpage. I often use it with my Junior High School students in Poland – they love it. Great job!

  5. Thank you so much for such great lessons! I teach conversation classes and often use your ideas! I did this one with 4 different groups and it lead to really nice and interesting discussions! They all told me how much they LOVED it! Well done!

  6. Hi Kieran,

    I wanted to thank you for the invaluable help that your website gives me. I have used your lesson plans with students of different levels of proficiency and everyone enjoyed the work very much. I especially love your choice of films – this is one thing that certainly makes your project unique.

  7. Thanks for the wonderful website. You are really helping those who are in need of different kinds activities to use in the classroom.
    Very creative and interesting. Thanks a lot my friend!

  8. Hi Kieran,

    thanks for sharing such a beautiful short film and the activities you suggest. I used them with my student and they worked extremely well. After the speaking session, you learn so much from them!

    Thanks again,


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