Cameron Russell, (TED, ted.com), “Looks Aren’t Everything”

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The Video

Model Cameron Russell delivers a frank take on her industry, dispelling myths that we would all be happier if only we were a little skinnier. Perhaps the best part of the talk is when Russell deconstructs the tricks of the glamour world, showing us personal photos taken on the same days as sleek, professional snaps.

The talk has racked up over 10 million views on YouTube, 16 million on TED and would prove interesting to both a male and female audience. There is a professional tilt to the talk and the worksheet below extrapolates the language of giving presentations. There is also an extension task were you can set your student(s) up to give their own presentations on their respective industries.

Language Focus and Level

The main bulk of the talk is delivered in a clear, easily understandable manner and would be suitable for upper intermediate and above. There is extra vocabulary help included in the worksheet (below) and you always have the option of subtitles either through ted.com or YouTube.

There is a section in the worksheet dedicated to conditionals and how they can be used in presentations.

Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: Cameron Russell

Availability

You can access the video either through ted.com or YouTube.

 

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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.

eurodestination (YouTube Channel), “Visit Denmark”

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The Video

This is a short promotional video for the Nordic utopia that is Denmark. There is plenty of swooping cinematography featuring the best a Danish vacation has to offer.

The video seeks to answer the question What is a good holiday about? and would provide a nice introduction to the theme of vacations/travel if you are about to study this topic.

Language Focus and Level

The narration on this video moves at a deliberately leisured pace which, combined with the vocabulary help in the worksheet, could be suitable for pre-intermediate or intermediate level students.

There is a grammar section in the worksheet which focuses on the use of the gerund in the video.

Worksheet

capture Find the accompanying worksheet here: denmark

Availability

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).

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.

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