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.

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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.

I Didn’t Know That (National Geographic, YouTube Channel), “Making an Artificial Eye”

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The Video

The I Didn’t Know That team visit a medical laboratory to see how artificial eyeballs are made. Every single eye is made by hand and precisely tailored to its wearer. This short video is an interesting introduction to this strange world but maybe not one for the squeamish!

Level and Language Focus

The narration is fairly slow but the vocabulary is very technical in places. Vocabulary like varnish, acrylic, mould and fibres are on the technical side but not completely useless in general life. With the downloadable transcript (below) you could use this video with levels intermediate and upper intermediate.

The video is full of examples of the passive voice (passive tense) and is ideal if you are teaching this grammar point.

The video could be especially interesting for young learners due to the content but it is equally engaging for adults too.

Worksheet

handout thumb  You can download the worksheet here: Artificial Eye Handout (right click, save as…)

Transcript thumb The transcript is available here: National Geographic (right click, save as…)

Availability

Watch the video on YouTube or on the National Geographic website.