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.

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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).

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, USA), “A Time-Share Time Machine”

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The Video

The Big Bang Theory is an internationally popular American sitcom based around five nerds sharing a flat. In this clip, Leonard gets exited about a sci-fi film prop he sees on an online auction site and places a bid without really considering the full implications of his actions. When he is the successful winning bidder and the item is shipped to the boys’ apartment, they get a big shock, with “big” being the operative word!

A fun and inoffensive comedy series, The Big Bang Theory is perfect for most teenage and adult classrooms.

Level and Language Focus

Any learner with a level lower than strong upper intermediate will certainly struggle with the video. Pre advanced and advanced learners will definitely get something out of the video too.

The worksheet below introduces the grammar of should have and third conditional; both connected to the regret the boys feel when the time machine eventually turns up.

Worksheet

thumb A free worksheet is available here: The Big Bang Theory turnitonenglish (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube.

 

The Late Late Show (CBS, USA) – Alanis Morissette Updates ‘Ironic’ Lyrics

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The Video

Chat show host James Corden invites Alanis Morissette to perform a 21st century version of her classic “Ironic” featuring references to racist Facebook friends, electronic cigarette breaks, having a house full of DVDs and getting Netflix and many more.

The lyrics include a few America-specific references, but with the help of the worksheet below the video is universal enough to appeal to audiences worldwide.

Level and Language Focus

The video could be used in intermediate, upper intermediate or pre advanced classes although it may prove a little easy for the latter.

One possible grammar extension is to use situations in the song to practice the third conditional as detailed in the worksheet below. This could then easily be extended to mixed conditionals if it is on your syllabus.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:

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.

Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) – Listen Alert

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The Clip

A short sketch (2:17) from the show Inside Amy Schumer. It features a spoof-advert for a telephone helpline set up for people who like to talk endlessly about their own lives. Unlike many of her sketches, this Amy Schumer snippet is 100% clean and inoffensive.

Level and Language Focus

There is plenty of language to be studied from the clip mainly centred around telling and listening to problems.

Some grammar ideas to come from this include should have and third conditionals (see worksheet below).

Worksheet

A specially designed worksheet featuring grammar and vocabulary activities based on the video is available here:

Inside Amy Schumer (Right click, Save Target As…)

Availability

The official Comedy Central clip can be viewed on YouTube.