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.

Bottom (BBC, UK), “Mr Gas Man!”

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The Video

Bottom was a mid-nineties slap-stick comedy with Rik Mayall featuring two professional losers and their catastrophic lifestyle. This form of comedy works well in the English Language classroom as clever wordplay is side-stepped in favor of  visual gags.

This clip features a visit from the gas man, however, Eddy and Ritchie are stealing their neighbor’s gas and aren’t so keen on letting him in. When he finally does enter, the comedy arises from their continued use of very formal constructions despite plans to hit him over the head.

Language Focus and Level

This video has been selected as a lot of the dialogue is intentionally slow, meaning students of levels intermediate and above should be able to pick up what is going on.

The worksheet below features vocabulary help and the grammatical focus is on making, accepting and refusing requests and offers.

Worksheet

gas.JPG   Download the worksheet here: Bottom

Availability

The video is available via YouTube.

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:

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Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: Dress Code Sexism Worksheet

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube.

Upworthy (YouTube Channel), “Careers and Gender Roles”

 

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The Video(s)

The main offering is a thought-provoking video from Upworthy, a YouTube channel whose mission statement is to “tell stories that bring people together”. It is short but definitely has the power to stir up conversation; just a quick glance at the comments section shows how opinions differ on the topic of gender.

Also included here and on the worksheet is an activity connected to the Beyoncé song If I were a boy…

Level and Language Focus

The optimum level for these activities is intermediate, although, together with the song, there is still plenty for upper intermediate students to get out of these videos. The video itself is not too complicated, so with some selectivity when you come to the worksheet, you could use the video with certain, enthusiastic pre-intermediate students.

The worksheet focuses on second conditional grammar and there is also a lot of vocabulary connected to jobs/work/professions in the mix.

Worksheet 

thumb Find the worksheet here : gender

Availability

ODN (YouTube Channel), “Taxi Hotel”

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The Video

ODN visits New York City and a plucky entrepreneur converting vans and taxi cabs into affordable accommodation for the tourist on a budget. It is a short and enjoyable news story that everyone will have an opinion about.

Language Focus and Level

The grammar used in this video is pretty simple with some more advanced vocabulary included. You can use the video with good pre-intermediate and intermediate level students.

There is no grammar focus with this video but the worksheet below could be used as a quick class introduction to the topics of tourism, hotels, holidays or travel.

Worksheet

thumb   Download the worksheet here: taxi-hotel

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube.

CBS News (USA),”The “Downton Abbey” Effect?”

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The Video

The demand for British butlers speaking the Queen’s English and looking austere is in high demand, CBS looks at why in this news story.

Level and Language Focus

With fairly basic language and delivery, this video is suitable for intermediate and upper-intermediate level students.

Use the video and the worksheet below to teach the passive voice including sections on passive reporting verbs (it is said that…), and the causative (I had my shoes polished…).

Worksheet

thumb Get the worksheet here: Downton Abbey Effect

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

A transcript of the video can be found here.

Embedding is disabled so you have to visit the link above to watch.

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.

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.

The One Ronnie (BBC, UK), “My Blackberry’s Not Working!”

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The Video

The late Ronnie Corbett delivers his  classic style of double-entendre-filled British comedy in this video. Simple yet hilarious, this video should appeal to adults and even teens everywhere, although it should be advised that the talk of Ronnie’s “dongle” problems could take some explaining!

Level and Language Focus

This video is great for higher level students to explore word-play, one of British comedy’s key features. Using the worksheet below, you can allow the students take to piece the tricky double meanings (juice=liquid from a fruit/battery power, orange=citrus fruit/mobile phone company etc.)  that can sometimes prevent learners of English fully appreciate this type of comedy.

You can then go on to look at the functional language of describing a problem and resolving a problem, essential for any language course and perfect for role-play.

We recommend this video for higher intermediate, upper intermediate and pre advanced levels. The word play is far too complicated for lower levels although the vocabulary is not too tricky.

Worksheet

You can find the worksheet here: The One Ronnie (Right Click, Save As).

Availability

Watch via YouTube.