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.

Paths Less Pedaled (YouTube Channel), “What is Bicycle Travel?”

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The Video

This is a short promotional video to try and get more people into the joys of cycling.

Level and Language Focus

The language in the video alone is suitable for use in intermediate and upper intermediate classes. Using the worksheet below you could extend the video and supporting activities to good pre intermediate classes.

The main grammar focus of the video is the use of gerunds after prepositions.

Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: Cycling.

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

watchwellcast (YouTube Channel), “How to Be More Confident”

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The Video

“You can’t always get what you want…but you can try!” watchwellcast tells us. This short but informative video gives a few helpful tips on making ourselves heard and our needs recognised. A light-hearted animation and humorous content makes the subject easily accessible and stimulating to all, especially those who need an injection of  confidence in their speaking.

Level and Language Focus

The speed and level of vocabulary make this video good for intermediate and upper intermediate levels. There are some tricky words but these are covered in the worksheet below.

A possible grammar extension you can teach using the worksheet is to look at constructions which use the infinitive, for example I want you to…, I need you to…, I would like you to… to form assertive statements and then conduct role-plays.

Worksheet

thumb Get your free worksheet here (Right Click, Save As…): watchwell worksheet.

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.

The Co-operative Bank (TV Ad, UK), “Everyday Rewards”

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The Videos

The videos provide inspirational stories of individuals who have made a difference in their communities. We have Richard who is a guerrilla gardener, turning grey, urban spaces into flourishing beauties. Joshua is a hairdresser who takes to the streets to give the homeless a quick trim and a much needed chat. The project “Read 2 Dogs” helps kids who need a little extra help with their literacy by providing them with a captive, four-legged audience and Lauren is a yarn-stormer on a mission!

Level and Language Focus

The videos are great for intermediate and upper intermediate levels. Of the four videos to are easier and two more difficult. This provides a good challenge if you have a range of levels in your class.

You can use the worksheet below to review the use of the gerund as the grammar focus to your class.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
Everyday Rewards (Right Click, Save As…)

 

Availability

Watch the videos on YouTube: Richard’s Story, Joshua’s Story, Read 2 Dogs and Lauren’s Story.

The Office (BBC, UK) “Nightmare Co-Workers”

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The Clips

Two clips from BBC’s The Office (UK). In the first clip, Gareth annoys Tim by taking personal calls during work hours, they then argue about their job titles and who is more important. The second clip again features Tim and Gareth and this time their boss, David (played by Ricky Gervais). Tim plays a petty practical joke on Gareth who is not impressed.

Level and Language Focus

The clips are short (1:44 and 2:36) so there isn’t a lot of difficult language to teach. The clips could be used with classes of level intermediate and above. As all the action takes place in an office the class could provide a humorous introduction to a business English class, or simply a class discussing work.

As detailed in the downloadable worksheet in the section below, a language extension to these clips could be using infinitive structures to negotiate e.g. I want you to stop taking personal calls at work.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
The Office (Right Click, Save As…)

 

Availability

You can view the videos on YouTube 1 & 2.