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The Beauty of a Second

Posted on July 8, 2013 by kierandonaghy

the beauty of a second

This EFL lesson plan is designed around Seconds of Beauty a short film competition sponsored by Montblanc and the theme of moments. Students watch a short film, describe moments, speak about beautiful moments and create their own one-second videos.

Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper Intermediate (B2)

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 60 minutes

Activity: Watching a short film, describing moments, speaking about beautiful moments and making a one second-time video

Topic: Time and moments

Language: Present continuous

Materials: Short film and video

Downloadable materials: the beauty of a second lesson instructions

Step 1

Ask students what can happen in a second. Brainstorm ideas from the whole class.

Step 2

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film in which there are 60 clips each lasting one second. Ask them to watch the film and try to identify as many of the moments as they can using the present continuous tense; for example, somebody is playing a piano, a child is running etc.



Step 3

Get feedback and then show the film a second time and ask students to identify more moments.


Step 4

Now show the film again, but this time pause at each moment and elicit what is happening.


Step 5

Ask students to choose 5 of the moments which they think are beautiful. Pair the students and ask them to explain to their partner what they find beautiful about the moments they have chosen.


Step 6

Hold a plenary discussion:

What did you find beautiful in the moments?

What things do you find beautiful in your everyday life?

How did the film make you feel?



Show students this short film by director Wim Wenders.


Tell students that they should follow Wim Wenders instructions and for homework record a second of something beautiful, important or moving for them. They can use any digital format: a digital camera,  a mobile phone, a tablet or a camcorder. They should bring their moment on a digital device to the following class .  Put the students into small groups and ask them to show and then explain why they chose this moment to the other students.


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 “The Beauty of a Second

  1. Fantastic HD film! And of course the typical great Film English lesson plan to go with it.
    Where do you find all your amazing films, Kieron? :)


  3. As usual good ideas to start with and all lesson steps well built up. congratulations. i’m becoming a very enthusiastic fan. Can i add a link to your site from my blog?

  4. Pingback: Three Great Videos To Start The Day…. | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

  5. I love this sort of thing and reminds me of Holub’s so little known essay – Dimensions of the present moment – where he talks about how we define an image/scene. (a Czech poet/physician that should be more appreciated).

    I love the aspect of how students can make their own playlist and share their creations. I think creating a content, a “thing” one of the strongest material aspects with teaching. So little promoted, even in PBL (believe it or not).

    Thanks Kiernan for letting others know about this – reminds me of RadioLabs famous video “Moments” that I’ve done lots of lesson things with.


    • Hi David,
      Thanks a lot for commenting and for your lovely feedback. I don’t know the Holub essay, but I’m going to check it out, sounds really interesting.
      All the best,

  6. Hi Kieran, I used this lesson with a group of second-year Italian university students (class size about 70), incorporating the homework angle into the lesson so at the break – the lesson is 3 hours – they went off and made their own films (or took a photo) and then the last hour was devoted to what they’d come up with. As these are students following a literature-based course I changed the slant of your excellent lesson slightly by getting them to speculate on “the story behind the image” ie. how did the man end up with a load of multi-coloured balls in his car? Response was very enthusiastic and, importantly, productive in terms of language use. I’m always looking for lessons I can deliver to a large group of people and this website of yours seems to fit the bill pretty well. Thanks, keep it up!

    • I also made the Wim Wenders video into a listening comprehension, the students listened to see if their ideas of what can happen in a second corresponded with Wenders’ thoughts and then I gave them gap-fills of some of the audioscript.

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