Saturday Night Live (NBC, USA), Pitch Meeting

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The Video

The Saturday Night Live team takes us inside the advertising department at Cheetos where two teams are pitching for the Super Bowl half-time advert. One team are flatly rejected when they present ideas of kids hanging out having fun. The other team, however, find their pretentious projections of human struggle coupled with corn chips far more welcomed.

The video is a direct reference to the half-time ads of this year’s Super Bowl, but, as long as your students have access to a TV, they should recognize the current trend for the pseudo-philosophical nonsense used by companies to sell us their wares.

The video is designed for an adult audience but remains fairly clean. There are some parts which could potentially spark cultural sensitivity, so be sure to watch the video before showing it to your students!

If you teach any advertising executives, this video could provide some light relief yet still remain connected to their line of work.

Language Focus and Level

The narration in this video is fairly slow and the vocabulary is largely non-challenging meaning you could use this video with good intermediate, upper intermediate and if it’s a good fit (pre) advanced students.

You can use this video to talk about describing the plot of a movie or TV show. The worksheet below takes the student through all the necessary grammar to do this, including the difference between dynamic and stative verbs and the use of present tenses (present simple, present continuous and present perfect) when describing a story. This grammar leads on to a speaking activity in which students write their own “recap” style presentations of their favorite movies/TV shows, great if you are looking to do an extended speaking activity.

Worksheet

thumb  Find the main worksheet connected to the video here: SNL Pitch Worksheet

thumb-ii   There is also a separate handout about Stative Verbs available here: Stative Verbs Handout.

Availability

Find the video over at YouTube.

The other optional video detailed in the worksheet is here.

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.

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.

Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central, USA), “Size 12”

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The Video

Now on it’s fourth season, Inside Amy Schumer is an adult sketch series tackling the issues of the day. In this clip Amy visits a trendy clothing shop hoping to buy a t-shirt. What seems like a simple task suddenly goes from bad to worse as the store struggles to deal with any customers requiring a size larger than a toddler 3 and Amy visits the abyss to find something a little bigger, bumping into Lena Dunham in the process.

If you have a class which is primarily men, the experience in the video could be a little lost, however, there should be no reason why you couldn’t use this clip in any general adult class. There are a few cultural references specific to the USA, so if your objectives do not reach as far as cultural awareness, a different clip may be more suitable

Although there is only one bleeped expletive in the clip, one section of the accompanying worksheet does feature extracts from the comments section from YouTube using expletives. If you feel that this sort of language is unsuitable for your class you could perform your own censorship on the offending words with a marker pen.

Level and Language Focus

You can use this video with a good intermediate or upper intermediate class. There is some difficult vocabulary and cultural points but these are explained in the worksheet below.

Instead of a grammar focus, the accompanying worksheet sets up a debate on the topic introduced in the video.

Worksheet

thumb    Download the worksheet here: Inside Amy Schumer Size 12 (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can watch the video on YouTube.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Would You Rather…? (BBC America, USA) “Death Row Dinner”

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The Video

Would You Rather…? is an American panel show featuring four guest comedians who answer a series of dilemmas ranging from the serious to the plain preposterous. In this clip, the guys weigh up whether they’d prefer to have dinner with all of their exes at once or with five guys eating their last meal on death row.

The show is designed for an adult audience, there is however nothing too offensive in this particular clip so could be used with an older teenage class (always watch the video and read the worksheet before taking it into class!).

Level and Language Focus

The guests on the show speak fairly slowly and there is not a lot of complicated vocabulary  making it suitable for intermediate or upper intermediate students. Being fairly short, this video makes a perfect starter activity or could be used as an introduction to a lesson on second conditionals.

The worksheet below deals with the construction “I’d rather…”, an important and widely-used construction often ignored by the textbooks despite it’s suitability as a perfect conversation starter.

Worksheet

thumb.JPG  Download the free worksheet here (Right Click, Save As..) Death Row Dinner

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.