Posted 9/11/07
In this video activity, the teacher’s voice is brought into the picture. The basic idea is for the teacher to tell students about a dream that he/she has had before asking for a dream analysis. But there is aspect of dishonesty going on here – the dream in question is actually a description of a music video. This might seem a bit a bit deceitful. But at least students get the opportunity to see the dream for themselves at the end of the activity. And of course, their teacher doesn’t have to reveal any deep or incriminating aspects of his/her personality that should really stay out of the classroom!
  • Language level: Elementary; Pre-intermediate (A2)
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teenagers; Adults
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Activity: Listening; Speaking; Reading
  • Topic: Dreams; School
  • Language: Prepositions
  • Materials: Video; Worksheet
Dream sequence pdf [downloaded 4311 times]

Lesson plan outline

The key to the success of this activity is to select a video clip and prepare a description/narration of it that engages your students. The above video for Mad World is perfect. In the following clip from my classroom, I use an alternative video by Mary’s Dream called Je Pars.

Some tips for the preparation:

  • Watch the video a number of times and pay close attention to details
  • Consider questions that you can ask your students
  • Consider potentially problematic or unknown vocabulary and consider ways to teach it as you go along
  • Make notes or prepare some sort of schematic representation of what you are going to say (click on notebook image)

Some tips for classroom delivery:

  • Try not to use your notes. Try to recite the dream sequence from memory
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Write new words and language on the board
  • Encourage student interaction by asking questions
  • Elicit words and ideas from students whenever possible
  • Repeat sections of the description whenever necessary
  • Drill any useful grammar structures / sentences
  • Use gesture and body position to strengthen learners’ comprehension
  • You may digress because of student interaction. Come back to the dream sequence with the question: Anyway, where were we?

Example script and questions:

I want to tell you about this funny dream that I’ve been having recently. Now when I say ‘funny’ I don’t mean it makes me want to laugh. I mean funny in the other sense of the word.Did you know that funny had two meanings? Yes, it also means ‘strange’.

In the dream, I’m standing on top of a building looking directly down at the street below. I hear a bell ring and then I hear children’s voices.

What sort of building do you think it is?

Anyway, as I said, I’m looking down at the street below.
A crowd of people walk out of the main entrance and
then I hear a piano melody. It’s quite beautiful but at
the same time, quite sad. Unfortunately, I can’t recall
the melody now.

Does that ever happen to you – a catchy tune comes into your head while you are dreaming. Sometimes you wake up and think you should record it somehow so that you will remember it in the morning. But you never do.

So this is where things get a little bit strange. On the pavement below, there is a face looking up at me. But it’s not a realistic face – it looks more like a child’s drawing and it’s moving. It seems to be speaking to me but I have no idea what it is saying. Its hair is blowing in the wind.

Now I can hear a man singing.

The face turns into an animated matchstick man. Do you know what that is? Well this is a matchstick (or a match for short). And this is a matchstick man.

Now the matchstick man turns into a house, or perhaps I should say, a child’s drawing of a house. You can imagine what it looks like.

Anyway, very slowly, I turn to my left. I look along the street and then across the roof of the building that I am standing on.

Can you guess what I see?

I see the man who is singing. He is also looking down at the street – just like me. He is wearing a peaked cap and a dark blue jacket. He ignores me and keeps singing his slow song. The sky above us is autumn blue. In the distance I can see skyscrapers.

I look back down at the street and there is a new picture. This time it’s a sailing boat on the sea. Then it turns into a car. Its wheels are going round. The car turns into a bird which turns into some sort of animal – its difficult to say what exactly what is. It might be a deer.

Now, slowly, I turn to my right and look across the right-hand side of the building.

Can you guess who I see this time?

This time I see the piano player. He is sitting at his piano on the roof of the building. He is sitting with his back to me.

Do you believe that dreams have meanings?

Lesson plan steps

  1. Ask students if they believe that dreams have meanings
  2. Tell students that you want to tell them about a dream you’ve had recently. Describe the video from beginning to end, pretending that it is your dream. Allow for interaction whenever possible.
  3. Put students into pairs or small groups. Tell them that they are going to analyze your dream. Ask them to make a theory about what it means. Encourage them to make notes.
  4. Invite different pairs/groups to share their ideas.
  5. Give out copies of the Mad World lyrics (included in the PDF download). Tell students that there is a connection between the text and the dream. (Note that students do not know that these are song lyrics at this stage.) Ask them if they can guess what it is.
  6. Play the music video
  7. Tell students that the song is open to interpretation. Ask them to apply their ideas from steps 3 and 4 (above) to a more holistic interpretation of the song. This could be done as a written assignment.


You may not want to mislead your students by telling them that the dream is your own. In this case, start by saying that you are going to describe someone else’s dream. This will be confusing at first but students should eventually go with it. Later, part of the task can be to guess whose dream it is.

Follow ups

  1. Following the dream description, draw students’ attention to the prepositions and prepositional phrases in your spoken text by dictating the sentences below. Note that the verb look is particularly dominant here.
    • I’m standing on top of a building looking directly down at the street below.
    • A crowd of people walk out of the main entrance.
    • I see a face looking up at me.
    • I turn to my left. I look along the street and then across the roof of the building that I am standing on.
    • The sky above us is autumn blue.
    • I look back down at the street.
    • The sailing boat on the sea turns into a car. Its wheels are going round.
    • I turn to my right and look across the right-hand side of the building.
    • This time I see the piano player. He is sitting at his piano on the roof of the building. He is sitting with his back to me.
  2. For homework, ask students to investigate the song further by looking for discussions on sites such
  3. Ask students to prepare spoken descriptions of their own recurring dreams. Alternatively, ask them to use a dream sequence from a film. There are many of these on YouTube (type Dream Sequence into the search window). Here is an example dream sequence taken from the film The science of sleep, which was directed by Michel Gondry who also directed the Mad World video used in this activity.
Posted 9/11/07

11 Responses to Dream sequence

  1. Ellie Spicer says:

    Hi Jamie
    So – I’m going to use this one on a TD course I’m currently running in Brighton. Ever since I saw you demonstrating it (with ‘Je Pars’) in Latvia (?) I’ve wanted to do it. Well, tomorrow is the day.
    Congratulations on I hope you are making a bloody fortune! You deserve to be.
    Would be good to hear from you.
    Ellie x

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Ellie
    Lovely to hear from you! Good luck with the activity. It’s fun when it comes together.
    A bloody fortune? Not really. But I do pass a hat around after giving classes and workshops these days.
    Hope to see you soon
    Jamie x

  3. Ellie Spicer says:

    Using it again tomorrow with a group of Finnish teachers at Pilgrims. Went down a storm in B’ton. Brought them to tears (me too!)
    Ellie x

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Oh no – I don’t want to be responsible for making anyone cry! Hope you are having fun in Canterbury. Lots of rain in Norwich. x

  5. Ellie Spicer says:

    Why not ? A bit of ‘cathartic’ is OK in my book. And anyway, it’s not YOU who is responsible for making anyone cry. It’s what you DO. x

  6. Purva says:

    I just love this activity! I’m doing this with my pre-intermediate students tomorrow, the lesson is on dreams and it fits just perfectly. I work in a school of languages in the north of Spain. I will tell my colleagues about your website, I just love your original ideas. Congrats!

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Hello Purva
      Glad you like it. Hope it goes well. Good luck
      Please do pass on the site. Thank you!
      Jamie :-)

  7. Nicki Salter says:

    Hi Jamie

    I am a recently qualified teacher, Ellie was one of our tutors here at Sussex Coast College, and she put us onto your wonderful website. I have used this lesson idea several times in my 1:1 lessons and it has always been amazing! In fact, I have used quite a few of them and they always work really well.

    Thank you so much for your ideas, I will be back for more.

  8. Jamie Keddie says:

    Great to hear it Nicky
    Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
    Jamie :)

  9. Diane says:

    Hi Jamie, I was introduced to your website on my CELTA course and I love it. The YL I am teaching in a rural village in South Africa have had great fun the lessons I have used. Thank you so much of all your wonderful ideas and for sharing them. It is much appreciated. Ciao Diane

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Diane
    This is great to hear. Hope you are enjoying the teaching.
    Thanks for letting me know.
    Jamie :)