Sky News (YouTube Channel), “Inside The $5bn Industry Of Child Beauty Pageants”

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The Video

Sky News reports on the growing industry of childhood beauty pageants. The controversy surrounding this often bizarre world is explored and questions connected with future body issues are raised by an expert.

This issue is bound to provoke a reaction from your class, but be careful with cultural sensitivities. The child and mother featured in the film are a full realization of the Honey Boo Boo stereotype and provide the all the drama you’d imagine.

Language Focus and Level

As a news story, the voice over to this video is an easily-understood gateway for intermediate level and above. Shari, the mother in this feature, has a thick Texas accent which could provide a challenge for more advanced students.

There is a large second conditional grammar section in the worksheet (below), which is ideally aimed at upper intermediate but could be used for high intermediate. Zero and first conditional are briefly covered but essentially the main content surrounds hypothetical situations and the extension activity requires the use of this grammar. 

The worksheet also includes small sections on the grammar connected with the verbs of the senses (she looks good, she looks like an adult…etc.) and the vocabulary used in the video.

Worksheet

thumb   Download the worksheet here: Sky News

Availability

Find the video over at YouTube.

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Communication Activity: Phrasal Verbs Which Make Sense!

This is a grammar extension activity if you have introduced the idea of phrasal verbs to your class and they need some speaking practice, or if you want to build up confidence in this area.

The worksheet introduces 21 phrasal verbs which all make some kind of sense considering their constituent parts, e.g. “sit down” makes more sense than the more abstract “give up”. All the verbs are in common usage and the worksheet can therefore be used for pre-intermediate or intermediate level if a quick brush-up is needed.

The introduction of the verbs, grouped by particle, then leads into a speaking activity which requires the student to think about the correct phrasal verb from a context and then use it in free speech.

thumb Download the worksheet here: Phrasal Verbs Which Make Sense

Saturday Night Live (NBC, USA), Pitch Meeting

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The Video

The Saturday Night Live team takes us inside the advertising department at Cheetos where two teams are pitching for the Super Bowl half-time advert. One team are flatly rejected when they present ideas of kids hanging out having fun. The other team, however, find their pretentious projections of human struggle coupled with corn chips far more welcomed.

The video is a direct reference to the half-time ads of this year’s Super Bowl, but, as long as your students have access to a TV, they should recognize the current trend for the pseudo-philosophical nonsense used by companies to sell us their wares.

The video is designed for an adult audience but remains fairly clean. There are some parts which could potentially spark cultural sensitivity, so be sure to watch the video before showing it to your students!

If you teach any advertising executives, this video could provide some light relief yet still remain connected to their line of work.

Language Focus and Level

The narration in this video is fairly slow and the vocabulary is largely non-challenging meaning you could use this video with good intermediate, upper intermediate and if it’s a good fit (pre) advanced students.

You can use this video to talk about describing the plot of a movie or TV show. The worksheet below takes the student through all the necessary grammar to do this, including the difference between dynamic and stative verbs and the use of present tenses (present simple, present continuous and present perfect) when describing a story. This grammar leads on to a speaking activity in which students write their own “recap” style presentations of their favorite movies/TV shows, great if you are looking to do an extended speaking activity.

Worksheet

thumb  Find the main worksheet connected to the video here: SNL Pitch Worksheet

thumb-ii   There is also a separate handout about Stative Verbs available here: Stative Verbs Handout.

Availability

Find the video over at YouTube.

The other optional video detailed in the worksheet is here.

Tracey Ullman’s Show (BBC, UK), “Last Words”

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The Video

Tracey Ullman is a transatlantic comedy sensation, here, making a return to British TV for a prime time sketch show.

This scene takes place in a hospital where we meet a woman about to pass to the other side. The comedy arises as she starts reeling off a list of mundane regrets based around not having posted enough photos on social media.

If your students have access to social media then few will not connect with Ullman’s poignant comment on our obsession with sharing every minutia of our day with the world. Care should be taken due to the fact that the scene essentially depicts a dying person; if you have any doubts surrounding sensitivities that may arise from this subject matter, seriously consider the use of this video.

Level and Language Focus

The video is short and provides a succinct example of how the construction I wish I had… is used. The worksheet below would be a good starting point for a class about the third conditional as although this construction is not detailed, the construction I wish is explained fully and uses the same grammatical ideas (hypothetical past).

The shortness of the video opens it up to a range of different levels starting at intermediate and upwards.

The worksheet features a game but it might not be suitable if you teach students who do not have a good understanding of western “celebrity” culture.

Worksheet

thumb Find the worksheet here: Tracey Ullman Handout

Availability

You can watch the video over at YouTube.

Saturday Night Live (NBC, USA), “Trump Retweets”

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The Video

Part of a collection of popular Trump skits, Alec Baldwin nails a flamboyant Trump who is constantly retweeting during an important security briefing.

The video is designed for an adult audience with very mild cursing. A political piece which presents the president in a ridiculous light, some may be offended but the video will certainly open up a fiery discussion!

Level and Language Focus

The speed with which Trump speaks is relatively slow and could be used for a good intermediate, upper intermediate and, being quite short, could be used to open advanced classes.

The grammar focus of the worksheet is constructions using just to talk about actions which happened very recently: “I just retweeted a great tweet!”. The worksheet looks at the use of past simple and present perfect with just.

There is a pronunciation section to the worksheet which focuses on the following phonemes:

phonemes

There is vocabulary help available with the worksheet below and also the option of using subtitles via YouTube.

*The handout uses pronunciation based on Received Pronunciation, the accent of Standard English in the UK*

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet here: snl-trump-worksheet

Availability

Find the video on YouTube.

The Apprentice (BBC, UK), Series 4 Episode 3, “Themed Events”

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The Video

Another action-packed episode of one of the BBC’s flagship shows, equally peppered with moments of business acumen and cringe-worthy ignorance. This time the two teams are given the task of putting on a themed event in a London pub with one of the teams ending up facing the wrath of the UK’s very own Donald Trump: Sir Alan Sugar, who picks apart where it all went wrong.

There are plenty of moments in which organizing events, marketing strategies, profits and margins and general business are discussed which provides an entertaining alternative for your Business English classes.

Language Focus and Level

The video should not be used with any students with a level lower than upper intermediate. Even if using this video with B2 students, it should be used selectively: we would mostly recommend it for private business students who enjoy challenging/heavy material,  B2 classes with a good listening level who are used to processing a lot of information or classes/private students who are looking to study an academic certificate in the near future (e.g. CAE, IELTS)

With the vast amount of vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs detailed in the worksheet (below), the video would be ideal for pre-advanced and above. Due to the length of the episode and the amount of things that could be focused on, this episode’s accompanying worksheet is quite long and could potentially provide 2+ hours worth of work (depending on how in depth you want to get).

The main challenge to any student watching this episode would inevitably be the high level vocabulary and there is also a grammar section in the worksheet below featuring the third conditional, should have and functional language to talk about what went wrong/blaming others.

Worksheet

thumbA worksheet is available here: The Apprentice – Events

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube or purchase the episode via iTunes (£1.49, UK).

Amanda Palmer (TED.com), “The Art of Asking”

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The Video

This is a TED talk by alternative musician Amanda Palmer, most famous for her work with the band The Dresden Dolls. Palmer talks through the rise of her band and how they came to use crowd funding to release their music.

This video will obviously appeal most to music fans, but the crowd funding-model itself could provide an interesting discussion.

You could use this video in conjunction with New English File (Oxford), Upper Intermediate, Unit 9A, especially the Would You Pass the Bagel Test? article as the idea of honest contribution and “The Art of Asking”, is common to both.

Level and Language Focus

There is a lot of vocabulary in this video that students below upper intermediate level may find too much of a challenge, so this is definitely a video only suitable for upper intermediate students and above.

Inspired by the theme of asking, the worksheet below features a grammar section on the functional language of asking, specifically the use of the infinitive in constructions like “I would like you to do me a favor…”

Worksheet

thumb.JPG Find the free worksheet to accompany this video here: The Art of Asking.

Availability 

Watch the video on YouTube or directly from the TED website (subtitles available on both). A transcript is also available through the TED website.