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.

BBC Stories (BBC, UK), “The Invention That Helped Me Write Again”

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The Video

Graphic designer Emma Lawton was 29 when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The condition started a terrible tremor effecting her hands which caused her serious problems with drawing and writing.

In the video, we meet Haiyan Zhang who is developing an extraordinarily groundbreaking device that counteracts the tremors to amazing results.

This is a short, feel-good video about the power of technology in our lives for the good with a touching human story at its core. It is surely impossible that any student wouldn’t be moved by this incredible story.

Language Focus and Level

The language used in the video is not overly easy, but considering the help provided by the worksheet and in the video itself, you can use this video with intermediate and upper intermediate classes.

Following the story from its initial stages right through to its outcomes, we get a wide range of tenses used in context. Using the worksheet below, you can use the video to give a full review of tenses/verb forms, which include: present simple, present continuous, past simple, present perfect, going to, will…

The activity at the end of the worksheet also concentrates on a verb tense review.

Worksheet

thumb  Find the worksheet to accompany this video here: bbc-stories

Availability

Watch the video via BBC News or 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).

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.

 

TRT World (YouTube Channel), “Leicester’s Football Fairytale”

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The Video

It’s been called “the biggest upset in football’s history”, and few could not be moved by the fairytale story of Leicester City’s fantasy season. 5,000-1 rank outsiders back at the start of the season, this news story follows the unbelievable feat the club has achieved despite all odds.

Level and Language Focus

There are lots of different elements to this video each with differing levels of difficulty making the video perfect for general classes. The general level of the video is intermediate and it would also be suitable at upper intermediate.

The worksheet below focuses on the grammar connected to comparatives and superlatives used in the video and features a speaking exercise to practice those complicated rules associated with this grammar!

Worksheet

worksheet thumb.JPG You can find a worksheet connected to this video here (Right Click, Save As…) LCFC Success.

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

Self-Study

Try the online quiz.

BBC News and 5 News (UK), English Sparkling Wine Stories

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The Video

Not many people associate great wine production with England, but due to rising temperatures and the same chalky soil running from France, under the channel to Southern England, English sparkling wine production is experiencing a boom that looks to continue long into the future.

Level and Language Focus

The two videos are the clear narration you would expect from TV news channels. The vocabulary used in the videos is not too technical and should be accessible to learners with intermediate and upper intermediate levels.

The focus of the worksheet below is the Business English vocabulary used in the video. You could also use the video as an introduction to talking about the environment and climate change since this is the focus of the news story.

Worksheet

tumb Find a free worksheet here (Right Click, Save As…): Sparkling Wine

Availability

You can watch the 5 News story on YouTube.

The BBC video is available by following the link below. Unfortunately we cannot embed the video on this page but you should be able to watch it freely on the BBC website.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-29936464

Jamie’s Dream School (Channel 4, UK), “Cherie Blair’s Guide to Prison”

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The Video

This clip is taken from the documentary series, Jamie’s Dream School, in which celebrity chef Jamie Oliver enrols a group of struggling teenagers into a school in which all the lessons are taught by celebrity “specialists”, all of which are leaders in their field. Jamie has selected Human Rights lawyer and wife of ex-PM Tony Blair, Cherie, to open a debate on whether prisoners in the UK should have the right to vote.

Level and Language Focus

The video provides a range of different comprehension challenges. Cherie Blair, a professional speaker, is easy to understand, the pupils however prove a little more difficult. The worksheet below provides quite a good deal of transcript which could make the video more accessible to a good intermediate class. The video can also be used with upper intermediate and pre advanced classes.

The video is great for setting up a class debate. You could take the subject in the video or choose a different one. The grammar focus of the worksheet below is zero and first conditional in debates.

Since this debate is conducted in a high school with a group of teenagers, the video would work especially well in a young-learners class, but not exclusively.

Worksheet

worksheet thumb.JPG Download the free worksheet: Cherie Blair Human Rights Worksheet (right click, save as…)

Availability

You can watch the video on YouTube.