BBC Stories (BBC, UK), “The Invention That Helped Me Write Again”

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The Video

Graphic designer Emma Lawton was 29 when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The condition started a terrible tremor effecting her hands which caused her serious problems with drawing and writing.

In the video, we meet Haiyan Zhang who is developing an extraordinarily groundbreaking device that counteracts the tremors to amazing results.

This is a short, feel-good video about the power of technology in our lives for the good with a touching human story at its core. It is surely impossible that any student wouldn’t be moved by this incredible story.

Language Focus and Level

The language used in the video is not overly easy, but considering the help provided by the worksheet and in the video itself, you can use this video with intermediate and upper intermediate classes.

Following the story from its initial stages right through to its outcomes, we get a wide range of tenses used in context. Using the worksheet below, you can use the video to give a full review of tenses/verb forms, which include: present simple, present continuous, past simple, present perfect, going to, will…

The activity at the end of the worksheet also concentrates on a verb tense review.

Worksheet

thumb  Find the worksheet to accompany this video here: bbc-stories

Availability

Watch the video via BBC News or YouTube.

The Apprentice (BBC, UK), Series 1 Episode 11, “The Interviews”

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The Video

The Apprentice launches its UK version with Sir Alan Sugar in place of Donald Trump and the BBC’s slick cinematography using London’s “The City” a beautiful backdrop. Sugar plays his role especially well mixing the super successful businessman with his tell-it-straight, East End beginnings.

In this episode, the remaining contestants, after weeks of grueling tasks, face the ultimate challenge in the form of a series of cutthroat job interviews with a selection of the UK’s top business moguls.

The programme is suitable for adult Business English and general English classes and contains some bad language. Pay attention to the times given on the worksheet and you can skip a lot of the filler and concentrate on the important parts of the episode.

Level and Language Focus

The episode is 45+mins long and designed for native speakers so it is certainly not recommended for learners below an upper intermediate level. If you are going to use the video with upper intermediate students they should be aware of the challenge ahead of them and be open to material of which some of the content they won’t understand. What the episode does offer to these students is a good mix of different speech: there is the clear speech of the voice-overs, more informal moments with some colloquial language and the business tone of the actual interviews.

The video is obviously perfect for Business English students and any students who have a job interview in English on the horizon. Using the worksheet below, the video can be played in a group or one-to-one class.

The worksheet below focuses mainly on the vocabulary used in the episode.

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet that accompanies this video here: Interviews

Availability

Catch the episode over on YouTube.

National Geographic (YouTube Channel), “Steel Drums”

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The Video

National Geographic takes on an educational trip to Trinidad and Tobago to learn about arguably their most famous export, the steel drum. The video is short but sweet and would be a good introduction to a class centred on music, culture or travel.

Level and Language Focus

With slow, clear narration, you can use this video with pre intermediate or intermediate levels. There is some difficult vocabulary which can be cleared up by using the worksheet below.

This video is a nice introduction to set up class presentations. You could use the National Geographic YouTube channel and have your students find a video to summarise in the form of a presentation.

Worksheet

thumb ws.JPG Find the accompanying worksheet here: Steel Drums National Geographic (right click, save as…)

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

I Didn’t Know That (National Geographic, YouTube Channel), “Making an Artificial Eye”

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The Video

The I Didn’t Know That team visit a medical laboratory to see how artificial eyeballs are made. Every single eye is made by hand and precisely tailored to its wearer. This short video is an interesting introduction to this strange world but maybe not one for the squeamish!

Level and Language Focus

The narration is fairly slow but the vocabulary is very technical in places. Vocabulary like varnish, acrylic, mould and fibres are on the technical side but not completely useless in general life. With the downloadable transcript (below) you could use this video with levels intermediate and upper intermediate.

The video is full of examples of the passive voice (passive tense) and is ideal if you are teaching this grammar point.

The video could be especially interesting for young learners due to the content but it is equally engaging for adults too.

Worksheet

handout thumb  You can download the worksheet here: Artificial Eye Handout (right click, save as…)

Transcript thumb The transcript is available here: National Geographic (right click, save as…)

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube or on the National Geographic website.

 

 

Jamie’s Dream School (Channel 4, UK), “Cherie Blair’s Guide to Prison”

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The Video

This clip is taken from the documentary series, Jamie’s Dream School, in which celebrity chef Jamie Oliver enrols a group of struggling teenagers into a school in which all the lessons are taught by celebrity “specialists”, all of which are leaders in their field. Jamie has selected Human Rights lawyer and wife of ex-PM Tony Blair, Cherie, to open a debate on whether prisoners in the UK should have the right to vote.

Level and Language Focus

The video provides a range of different comprehension challenges. Cherie Blair, a professional speaker, is easy to understand, the pupils however prove a little more difficult. The worksheet below provides quite a good deal of transcript which could make the video more accessible to a good intermediate class. The video can also be used with upper intermediate and pre advanced classes.

The video is great for setting up a class debate. You could take the subject in the video or choose a different one. The grammar focus of the worksheet below is zero and first conditional in debates.

Since this debate is conducted in a high school with a group of teenagers, the video would work especially well in a young-learners class, but not exclusively.

Worksheet

worksheet thumb.JPG Download the free worksheet: Cherie Blair Human Rights Worksheet (right click, save as…)

Availability

You can watch the video on YouTube.

 

BBC News (UK), “Arsenal coaches children fleeing war in Iraq”

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The Video

The BBC news team joins Arsenal Ladies and England star Alex Scott as she travels to Iraq to see the work being done by Arsenal Academy together with Save The Children helping children affected by war through football.

This is a feel-good news story but some content could prove difficult for those who have been affected by war or violence and is therefore not recommended if you do not know your class too well.

Level and Language Focus

The narration is generally slow and clear, but with a few more difficult conversational sections and some non-English speech which has been subtitled.

The video is perfect if you have to cover a unit on sport in your course book/syllabus but you have a section of your class who are less than enthused about the subject. The worksheet highlights all the relevant football vocabulary as well as some general vocabulary.

Worksheet

A work sheet can be found at the link below (right click, save as…)

thumb ws.JPGBBC News, Arsenal coaches children fleeing war in Iraq

Availability

You can watch the video via YouTube.

Top Gear (BBC, UK), The Smallest Car in the World

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The Video

Jeremy Clarkson drives the Peel P50, the world’s smallest production car to work at the BBC, discovering some of the advantages and drawbacks of such a tiny vehicle.

Top Gear was the most widely watched factual television programme in the world and this clip has enough laughs to make it enjoyable for any general audience.

Level and Language Focus

The video is perfect for intermediate and upper intermediate levels with fairly simple language and clear narration.

The obvious topic for discussion is cars and transport. You can use the worksheet below to teach the grammar topic of comparatives and superlatives.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
Top Gear Handout (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

On Demand News (YouTube Channel), Nelson Mandela Tribute

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The Video

This is a six-minute tribute to Nelson Mandela from online news source ODN.

The clip gives a short narration of Mandela’s long journey from his first TV interview in 1961, his incarceration and through to his success as South African President. Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Annie Lennox and Will Smith all provide fitting tributes.

Level and Language Focus

The narration in the video is fairly slow and easy to follow, the vocabulary a little more challenging. It would work well in an intermediate or upper intermediate class, and you could consider it for a good pre-intermediate class with a little more support.

The main language focus of the video is past simple and could provide a good introduction if you are reviewing past tenses. Using the worksheet below, you can practise vocabulary associated with characteristics and adjectives to describe personality.

A good follow on activity would be to have students prepare their own tribute to someone who has inspired them in order to give presentations in a future class.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
Nelson Mandela handout (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube.

Breaking Bad Season 5, “Nothing Stops This Train”

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The Clip

This clip documents the filming of the famous train heist scene in the fifth season of Breaking Bad. Join the crew and actors on set as they film this highly complicated sequence featuring a huge train which breaks down mid-filming. The video is also interspersed with clips from the final take so warn your class of spoilers before you play it to them!

Level and Language Focus

The video should be used with levels Upper-Intermediate and above.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
Breaking Bad Worksheet (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube.

 

Banged Up Abroad (National Geographic UK), “Nepal”

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The Episode

City boy Piers retells the story of how he went from successful London banker to being incarcerated in a Nepalese prison after being found guilty of smuggling gold. A dramatic story which is easy to follow, the episode should inject some excitement into teen and adult classes.

Level and Language Focus

The video is good to play in class as it features direct-to-camera interviews and  reconstructions providing two different ways of listening to English. The narration is relatively slow and should be suitable for upper-intermediate level and above. The episode also features a selection of different English-native and non-native accents.

A grammar point related to the video would be second and third conditionals (see worksheet for more).

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube.