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).

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The Apprentice (BBC, UK), Series 1 Episode 11, “The Interviews”

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The Video

The Apprentice launches its UK version with Sir Alan Sugar in place of Donald Trump and the BBC’s slick cinematography using London’s “The City” a beautiful backdrop. Sugar plays his role especially well mixing the super successful businessman with his tell-it-straight, East End beginnings.

In this episode, the remaining contestants, after weeks of grueling tasks, face the ultimate challenge in the form of a series of cutthroat job interviews with a selection of the UK’s top business moguls.

The programme is suitable for adult Business English and general English classes and contains some bad language. Pay attention to the times given on the worksheet and you can skip a lot of the filler and concentrate on the important parts of the episode.

Level and Language Focus

The episode is 45+mins long and designed for native speakers so it is certainly not recommended for learners below an upper intermediate level. If you are going to use the video with upper intermediate students they should be aware of the challenge ahead of them and be open to material of which some of the content they won’t understand. What the episode does offer to these students is a good mix of different speech: there is the clear speech of the voice-overs, more informal moments with some colloquial language and the business tone of the actual interviews.

The video is obviously perfect for Business English students and any students who have a job interview in English on the horizon. Using the worksheet below, the video can be played in a group or one-to-one class.

The worksheet below focuses mainly on the vocabulary used in the episode.

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet that accompanies this video here: Interviews

Availability

Catch the episode over on YouTube.

Miranda (BBC, UK), “Before I Die” (S02E02)

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The Video

Miranda is one of the BBC’s most popular comedy series. It follows the life of clumsy 30-something Miranda, as she looks for love and fulfilment in a world where she never really fits in. A feel-good comedy for adult classes, Miranda mixes slapstick, visual comedy with cleverly constructed awkward social situations.

There is nothing especially offensive but the episode does have the slightest reference to sex, cervixes and uses one mildly offensive word.

There is one scene where Miranda visits a funeral and although injected straight through with comedy, could be a sensitive moment if you are aware of a recent death close to any of your students.

Level and Language Focus

As a TV series goes, Miranda is good for the ESL classroom due to a lot of her comedy deriving from the visual and not complicated word-play. However, we must still remember any TV series is going to be hard for an English learner.

We would recommend this video and accompanying worksheet for levels upper-intermediate and above. Under very controlled circumstances could you use this video with intermediate students, but it is always recommended that you watch the video with your students in mind before taking it into class.

The focus of the worksheet below is constructions with “get” of which there are numerous examples in the episode. The activity takes apart the different concepts that “get” can convey in English including phrasal verbs and passive “get”, then follows this up with a speaking exercise.

Worksheet

thumb Download the free worksheet here (Right Click, Save As…): Miranda Series 2

Availability

The best version of this episode is available via Daily Motion and there are also a few lower quality versions available through YouTube.

If you have access to Netflix, you may also find this episode is available through the service in certain countries.

 

The IT Crowd (Channel 4, UK), Series 1, Episode 1

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The Video

The IT Crowd is a British-Irish sitcom centred around the IT department of a big business. The comedy is a perfect bridge between old-style classic British comedy and modern tastes. Despite the odd reference to sex and mild cursing it would be suitable for teens and adults with the official age-rating being 15. A feel-good geeky comedy for a general audience, this video contains little material that could be seen as offensive.

In this episode, new employee Jen is sent to manage the IT department after writing on her CV that she has expertise in the area. It transpires that the extent to said expertise really goes no further than “sending emails…receiving emails…I could go on…” and the boys in the IT department are none too pleased at her arrival.

Level and Language Focus

The worksheet below concentrates on the Phrasal Verbs littered around the script ranging from the most common in usage (come in, shut up, get out) to more juicy examples for the vocabulary experts (size him up). If you are planning to use the worksheet, make sure you plan for enough time; it could take up an entire 90 minute lesson or two hour-long lessons. You may consider setting some parts for homework so you can watch the episode without pausing for too long.

The language used would definitely suit upper intermediate to advanced learners. You may consider using the video with especially eager intermediate students or those that work in the IT industry.

Worksheet

thumb A worksheet featuring vocabulary and phrasal verbs is available here (right click, save as…) The IT Crowd

Availability

Watch the episode on Vimeo. You can also watch the video via the Channel 4 website but you will need to complete a short registration process (free) and be navigating from the UK. If you access the video through Channel 4 you have the added bonus of subtitles.

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.

Top Gear (BBC, UK), The Smallest Car in the World

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The Video

Jeremy Clarkson drives the Peel P50, the world’s smallest production car to work at the BBC, discovering some of the advantages and drawbacks of such a tiny vehicle.

Top Gear was the most widely watched factual television programme in the world and this clip has enough laughs to make it enjoyable for any general audience.

Level and Language Focus

The video is perfect for intermediate and upper intermediate levels with fairly simple language and clear narration.

The obvious topic for discussion is cars and transport. You can use the worksheet below to teach the grammar topic of comparatives and superlatives.

Worksheet
A worksheet can be found here:
Top Gear Handout (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube.