Pandemics in Movies

Theresa Dash - author of the lesson   Theresa I December 21, 2021
General English, Speaking Lessons
Health, Television
B2 Upper-Intermediate
Second Conditional, Third Conditional
Grammar, Speaking, Vocabulary, Listening
Lesson ID
Lesson Time
45 minutes
Students engaged in an online English as a second language class discussing health regarding outbreaks, diseases, and pandemics while practicing the second and third conditional.

Lesson Overview

Have you ever been as sick as a dog? In this lesson, students will discuss health regarding outbreaks, diseases, and global pandemics. This lesson features a video of a specialist from the CDC who breaks down clips from movies and TV about pandemics. Students will learn and practice the second and third conditional and vocabulary relating to this topic. The lesson includes plenty of engaging discussion activities and worksheets that have been developed for adult and teenage learners.

Lesson Objectives

  • Grammar: Learners will explore the use of the second and third conditionals to discuss hypothetical situations related to health and pandemics. They will practice forming sentences using these conditionals to express possible outcomes and speculate about different scenarios in both past and hypothetical contexts.

  • Listening: Students will listen to a video of a CDC specialist analyzing pandemic portrayals in movies. They will focus on understanding how language is used to describe theoretical and real situations in public health. This exercise aims to improve their comprehension of technical language and complex sentence structures.

  • Speaking: Students will engage in discussions and debates about the realism of pandemic portrayals in movies. They will use second and third conditionals to articulate opinions and hypothesize about what might happen in different health crisis scenarios.

  • Vocabulary: The lesson will introduce vocabulary related to pandemics and public health responses, such as "outbreak," "eradication," "smallpox," and "PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)." Students will learn these terms in the context of discussing movie accuracy and public health policies.

  • Homework: Students will complete sentences using second and third conditionals, focusing on hypothetical situations about pandemics and personal health decisions. This will include exercises where they correct or complete sentences to practice the grammatical structures taught in the lesson.


Have you ever wondered what an expert thinks about movies like Outbreak or Contagion? Is it true and realistic or all for show? Watch this video to hear from an ecologist from the CDC who specializes in infectious diseases.

Video Transcript

Vocabulary and Pronunciation

infectious [adjective]: (of a disease or disease-causing organism) likely to be transmitted to people, organisms, etc. through the environment
PPE [noun]: short for personal protective equipment; special clothing worn to protect oneself in certain jobs
hazmat suit [noun]: hazardous materials suit; a piece of clothing that covers the entire body and other clothing, worn to protect against dangerous substances such as infectious viruses
outbreak [noun]: a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease
isolation ward [noun]: an area in a hospital set aside for patients with contagious or infectious diseases
smallpox [noun]: an acute contagious viral disease with fever and blisters usually leaving permanent scars
a tad [adverb]: to a small extent; somewhat
eradicate [verb]: to destroy completely; put an end to
far-fetched [adjective]: unlikely and unconvincing; improbable
precaution [noun]: a measure taken in advance to prevent something dangerous, unpleasant, or inconvenient from happening
contagion [noun]: the communication of disease from one person to another by close contact
breach [noun]: an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct
replication [noun]: the action of copying or reproducing something
sequencing [noun]: arranging in a particular order
genome [noun]: the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism
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