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.

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).

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.

The Late Late Show (CBS, USA) – Alanis Morissette Updates ‘Ironic’ Lyrics

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The Video

Chat show host James Corden invites Alanis Morissette to perform a 21st century version of her classic “Ironic” featuring references to racist Facebook friends, electronic cigarette breaks, having a house full of DVDs and getting Netflix and many more.

The lyrics include a few America-specific references, but with the help of the worksheet below the video is universal enough to appeal to audiences worldwide.

Level and Language Focus

The video could be used in intermediate, upper intermediate or pre advanced classes although it may prove a little easy for the latter.

One possible grammar extension is to use situations in the song to practice the third conditional as detailed in the worksheet below. This could then easily be extended to mixed conditionals if it is on your syllabus.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube.