Amanda Palmer (, “The Art of Asking”


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…”


thumb.JPG Find the free worksheet to accompany this video here: The Art of Asking.


Watch the video on YouTube or directly from the TED website (subtitles available on both). A transcript is also available through the TED website.

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


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.

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



You can view the videos on YouTube 1 & 2.