Good Morning Britain (ITV, UK), “Dress Code Sexism”

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The Video

Since Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, his Celebrity Apprentice chum Piers Morgan has been stirring up controversy on Good Morning Britain, a breakfast magazine show in the UK.

Almost in perfect timing with Trump’s Dress Like a Woman  debacle, here Piers talks to Nicola Thorp, a woman who lost her job in a dispute over having to wear heels at work.

Language Focus and Level

Being a heated debate, this video is challenging on account of speed and the fact that the speakers sometimes talk over each other. The vocabulary used, however, is not that advanced and you could try this video with upper intermediate students and above.

The video is full of conditionals; zero conditional and second conditional are particularly prevalent and are highlighted in the worksheet below.

Also detailed in the worksheet, we have a section on the functional language of debates; agreeing/disagreeing, making a point etc. and a section on the pronunciation of the following phonemes:

phoneme

Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: Dress Code Sexism Worksheet

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube.

Cameron Russell, (TED, ted.com), “Looks Aren’t Everything”

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The Video

Model Cameron Russell delivers a frank take on her industry, dispelling myths that we would all be happier if only we were a little skinnier. Perhaps the best part of the talk is when Russell deconstructs the tricks of the glamour world, showing us personal photos taken on the same days as sleek, professional snaps.

The talk has racked up over 10 million views on YouTube, 16 million on TED and would prove interesting to both a male and female audience. There is a professional tilt to the talk and the worksheet below extrapolates the language of giving presentations. There is also an extension task were you can set your student(s) up to give their own presentations on their respective industries.

Language Focus and Level

The main bulk of the talk is delivered in a clear, easily understandable manner and would be suitable for upper intermediate and above. There is extra vocabulary help included in the worksheet (below) and you always have the option of subtitles either through ted.com or YouTube.

There is a section in the worksheet dedicated to conditionals and how they can be used in presentations.

Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: Cameron Russell

Availability

You can access the video either through ted.com or 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.

GQ’s Most Expensivest S*** (YouTube Channel), “What Does a $295 Burger Taste Like?”

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The Video

A rather different offering this time in GQ’s multi-million viewed series, the dubiously titled “Most Expensivest S***”. Far from formal, we join extravagant rapper 2 Chainz in learning about Le Burger Extravagant; a $295 offering from a fancy New York restaurant.

A rare glimpse into how the other half live, this video is bound to provoke a reaction in class. Designed for an exclusively adult audience, the video features numerous expletives.

Level and Language Focus

If your student(s) are after challenging accents then 2 Chainz is certainly coming up with the goods. The video is a good way to explore difficult accents in that a lot of what he says is either repeating or repeated by the chef who is relatively easier to understand (to a non-native speaker, at least)!  Given this challenging aspect to the diction, we recommend you only use this video with upper intermediate students who are want a challenge, up to advanced.

The worksheet below also features an activity to explore the colloquial language/slang used in the video.

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet here: most-expensive-burger

Availability 

Watch the video over on 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.

ODN (YouTube Channel), “How the UK Public Really Felt About Brexit”

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The Video

This video captures the reactions of the British public in the wake of the decision to leave the EU. With a mix of elation and despair, the video shows the full spectrum of emotion in the air in the UK at the moment. Still in a state of shock and uncertainty, the only definite thing we can be sure of at the moment is that the United Kingdom is far from being “united”.

Level and Language Focus

The video features many different speakers; some easy to understand, some difficult. They are all however native speakers and the video wouldn’t be recommendable to any levels lower than upper intermediate.

Many of the adjectives used to describe how people are feeling; disappointed, worried etc. use the -ed ending, and the difference between -ed/-ing adjective endings is explained in the worksheet below with activities.

The worksheet also features role cards so you can hold your own class debate on the subject. 

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet here: Brexit Handout (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

Miranda (BBC, UK), “Before I Die” (S02E02)

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The Video

Miranda is one of the BBC’s most popular comedy series. It follows the life of clumsy 30-something Miranda, as she looks for love and fulfilment in a world where she never really fits in. A feel-good comedy for adult classes, Miranda mixes slapstick, visual comedy with cleverly constructed awkward social situations.

There is nothing especially offensive but the episode does have the slightest reference to sex, cervixes and uses one mildly offensive word.

There is one scene where Miranda visits a funeral and although injected straight through with comedy, could be a sensitive moment if you are aware of a recent death close to any of your students.

Level and Language Focus

As a TV series goes, Miranda is good for the ESL classroom due to a lot of her comedy deriving from the visual and not complicated word-play. However, we must still remember any TV series is going to be hard for an English learner.

We would recommend this video and accompanying worksheet for levels upper-intermediate and above. Under very controlled circumstances could you use this video with intermediate students, but it is always recommended that you watch the video with your students in mind before taking it into class.

The focus of the worksheet below is constructions with “get” of which there are numerous examples in the episode. The activity takes apart the different concepts that “get” can convey in English including phrasal verbs and passive “get”, then follows this up with a speaking exercise.

Worksheet

thumb Download the free worksheet here (Right Click, Save As…): Miranda Series 2

Availability

The best version of this episode is available via Daily Motion and there are also a few lower quality versions available through YouTube.

If you have access to Netflix, you may also find this episode is available through the service in certain countries.

 

The IT Crowd (Channel 4, UK), Series 1, Episode 1

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The Video

The IT Crowd is a British-Irish sitcom centred around the IT department of a big business. The comedy is a perfect bridge between old-style classic British comedy and modern tastes. Despite the odd reference to sex and mild cursing it would be suitable for teens and adults with the official age-rating being 15. A feel-good geeky comedy for a general audience, this video contains little material that could be seen as offensive.

In this episode, new employee Jen is sent to manage the IT department after writing on her CV that she has expertise in the area. It transpires that the extent to said expertise really goes no further than “sending emails…receiving emails…I could go on…” and the boys in the IT department are none too pleased at her arrival.

Level and Language Focus

The worksheet below concentrates on the Phrasal Verbs littered around the script ranging from the most common in usage (come in, shut up, get out) to more juicy examples for the vocabulary experts (size him up). If you are planning to use the worksheet, make sure you plan for enough time; it could take up an entire 90 minute lesson or two hour-long lessons. You may consider setting some parts for homework so you can watch the episode without pausing for too long.

The language used would definitely suit upper intermediate to advanced learners. You may consider using the video with especially eager intermediate students or those that work in the IT industry.

Worksheet

thumb A worksheet featuring vocabulary and phrasal verbs is available here (right click, save as…) The IT Crowd

Availability

Watch the episode on Vimeo. You can also watch the video via the Channel 4 website but you will need to complete a short registration process (free) and be navigating from the UK. If you access the video through Channel 4 you have the added bonus of subtitles.