Describing Videos with Present Continuous

present continuous video

In the past, I’ve found it difficult to find satisfactory ways of practising the present continuous in a real-time situation. I find miming activities don’t always suit adult classrooms, and describing what is happening in pictures produces only a limited range of language.

However, with the introduction of a large screen, there are a lot more possibilities to observe real events and comment upon them which is perfect for practising the present continuous.

It’s a bit of an ESL cliche, but I find Mr Bean videos work very well for this activity.

Put students in pairs and then play the first part of a video, ask students to comment on what is happening in the video. Now, pause the film and have one of each pair turn their back to the screen. Continue the video and the seeing partner should give a running commentary on what is happening to their blind partner. After a couple of minutes, pause the video again and have the pairs swap roles and continue the exercise.

At the end, you may want to rewatch the video and help students come up with ways of describing some of the more difficult or unusual events.

If you would like to suggest other videos that might work well with this activity, please leave them in the comments.

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