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.

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What Would You Do? (ABC News, USA), “Too Young to Shoot Guns?”

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The Video

What Would You Do? is an American feature in which actors stage socially delicate situations to see the reaction of the public. With a generally liberal outlook the series is a feel-good pat on the back for Americans which at times seems to suggest that problems such as racism, sexism and homophobia no longer stand. Having said this, the series is pretty good for looking at hypothetical situations in class.

The video connected to the worksheet below looks at attitudes to kids using guns at a gun shop in Texas. The video shows just how much support for guns exists (albeit in a gun shop!) and may provide a good insight into the American psyche as the adage “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is throw into the debate again and again.

The video does feature the sale and use of guns which could be a sensitive subject to some. If you have a class of people who used to live in warzones please consider the use of this video carefully.

Use the worksheet below to include more videos from this series either in the lesson or as homework.

Level and Language Focus

A lot of the interaction in this video is subtitled, aiding understanding but also providing listening practice. The main listening practice however comes from the helpful narration over the top of the action which is clear and simple making the video accessible and useful for intermediate and upper intermediate levels. If you have a particularly adventurous class, even a strong pre-intermediate class could follow the action, but we would only recommend this if you have a good knowledge of your class.

The video is great to teach the second conditional.

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet: What Would You Do (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can watch the video via 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.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show, “The Technology of Yesterday”

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The Video

Talk show favourite Ellen shows a flabbergasted group of youngster some of yesterdays most hip gadgets: a chunky 80s cell phone, a typewriter and an answer phone. Cheeky Ellen starts pulling the kids’ legs for a light-hearted bit of comedy.

Level and Language Focus

The language of the clip is not too complicated so it is recommendable for either intermediate or upper intermediate levels.

Ellen talks about both new and old gadgets so this video could be a good introduction to class about technology or computers.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:

Ellen Worksheet (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube, or on her official website, both with the bonus of option subtitles.

Graham Hill, “Less Stuff, More Happiness” (TED.com)

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The Video

In this short TED talk (05:49), Graham Hill tells us to strip back our lives if we want to be happy. He talks about the huge personal storage industry which continues to grow as we keep on accumulating more and more stuff.

Level and Language Focus

With subtitles and a transcript available, the video can be used differently for a variety of levels but we recommend using the video in classes of intermediate, upper intermediate or pre advanced level.

There are a lot of numbers used in the video and this is something you could expand on using the worksheet below. The video could be used alongside the teaching of quantifiers for which there is a conversation activity below.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
An extension conversation activity to teach quantifiers (pre-intermediate or intermediate) is available here:

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube, or via the TED website. YouTube offers subtitles and TED has subtitles plus a transcript too.

Home Study
Test your comprehension using this riddle quiz:

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.

 

Inside Amy Schumer, “Calling The Cable Company”

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The Clip

Amy’s internet connection is playing up so she takes a deep breath and picks up the phone to the cable company helpline. Full of funny moments, the situation she finds herself in during the call is one everybody can relate to.

Level and Language Focus

The service language used in the clip is not too difficult to understand and could be used for a strong pre-intermediate class upwards. An obvious extension would be an activity on telephone English, or the clip could provide a good introduction to the topic.

Worksheet

A worksheet is available here:

Inside Amy Schumer (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube.