Advanced English Lesson
Eyewitness Accounts

This advanced English lesson involves listening and conversation based on a Ted talk by Scott Fraser. The speaker is a forensic neuro-physiologist and he uses a real court case to analyse the reliablity of our memories, and therefore eyewitness testimonies. The lesson includes discussion points, vocabulary and a 20 minutes listening with comprehension activities.


Get the students to discuss the following questions:

  1. What could negatively influence eyewitness testimony?
  2. What’s the judicial system like in your country?
  3. Have you ever considered being a lawyer?
  4. If you were a lawyer, would you represent someone you think might be guilty?

Pre-teach Vocabulary

Write the following words onto flashcards and spread them on the table. Get the students to give definitions for the words they know, and then explain to them the words they don’t know.

  1. horsing around
  2. culprit
  3. mug shot
  4. adamant(ly)
  5. exonerated
  6. abhor
  7. inference
  8. nudge
  9. audacious
  10. stoic
  11. emboldened
  12. counsel
  13. malleable
  14. volatile
  15. vivid

Listening and Comprehension

Get the students to watch the video ‘Why eyewitnesses get it wrong’, by Scott Fraser, on, and then answer the following questions (the answers are in the downloadable teacher's notes at the bottom of this page). To make the listening more difficult you can also ask the students to listen out for the vocabulary and then tell you afterwards what the words were referring to.

  1. In how many cases was a wrong verdict passed and then overturned later? 
  2. What is the speaker’s job?
  3. What techniques were used to undermine the eye-witness accounts?
  4. In what way was the speaker audacious?
  5. How many of the eye witnesses identified the same person?
  6. According to the speaker how accurate are our memories and why?

Follow-on Activity

In the listening the speaker refers to 250-280 crimes where the alleged criminals were later exonerated. Get the students to investigate how the FBI were found to be giving false and exaggerated evidence in court over the last few decades.

Revise Vocabulary

Once you have finished the lesson, don't forget to go through the vocabulary once more with the students. You could get the students to pick up the flashcards one at a time and make up a story. Or get them to draw the plan of a house on a piece of paper, and then allocate each word to a different room of the house based on what associations they may have or can come up with. When they have done this, they need to explain the positioning of their words to the others in the classroom e.g. horsing around could be in the living room because that's where you play games, culprit could be in the kitchen because that's where you steal chocolate etc etc

Free Downloadable Lesson Plan
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