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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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

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.

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.

 

Ric Elias (TED.com), 3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed

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The Video

Ric Elias had a front-row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009. What went through his mind as the doomed plane went down? At TED, he tells his story publicly for the first time.

As you can imagine, the content of the video is quite weighty and the speaker asks some searching questions. If your class do not know each other too well then they may not want to share some of the more personal information that may arise in discussion of the topics raised.

Level and Language Focus

The language of the video is not too difficult and would be suitable for levels starting low intermediate to upper intermediate. If your student(s) have a good vocabulary base, the video could even be used with pre-intermediate if subtitles are used.

The worksheet below includes an activity involving hypothetical situations past and present, the main focus being the use of the verb wish and the associated grammar.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
TED Bucket List (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can watch the video on the TED.com website with the added benefit of subtitles (in an array of languages) and a full transcript.

You can also watch the video over at YouTube.

Room 101 (BBC, UK), Selected Clips

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The Videos

Room 101 is a BBC comedy series in which celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to put them in Room 101–the place where the world’s most foul evils are stored.

The four clips feature the popular UK comedians Ross Noble, Jason Manford, Phill Jupitus and Jack Whitehall. The show is clean, inoffensive and suitable for adult or teenage classes.

Level and Language Focus

The videos are a rewarding challenge for good upper intermediate groups, and are perfect for pre advanced and advanced classes.

The worksheet below looks at phrasal verbs using the particles “up” and “down” in relation to the video.

Worksheet

Find a worksheet connected to these videos here:

Phrasal Verbs Room 101 Worksheet (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

All the videos are available on YouTube: 1, 2, 3 & 4.

 

The Wright Stuff (Channel 5, UK) – Alternative Lifestyles

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The Clip

This is a UK morning debate programme in which “celebrity” guests, audience members and viewers discuss stories from the day’s news. This specific item concerns a city banker who gave up his London flat to live in the woods for a year. Starting with a short interview, the piece goes on to include opinions from the celebrity panel and viewers via the phone.

Level and Language Focus

The clip is good for learners as they have to listen to the studio interview, which is fairly easy to understand but then have the challenge of the phone callers, which is great practice for those who use the phone a lot in English.

With the vocabulary help provided by the worksheet below, the video could be used in an Upper Intermediate class, Pre-Advanced and Advanced level classes should also find the video stimulating with “part 2” proving particularly challenging.

Worksheet

A worksheet featuring some of the difficult vocabulary is available here: Alternative Lifestyles (Right click, Save Target As…)

A follow up activity to practice tenses is also available here: Alternative Lifestyle Role Card (Right click, Save Target As…)

Availability

The clip can be viewed on YouTube, part 1 and part 2.