CBS News (USA),”The “Downton Abbey” Effect?”


The Video

The demand for British butlers speaking the Queen’s English and looking austere is in high demand, CBS looks at why in this news story.

Level and Language Focus

With fairly basic language and delivery, this video is suitable for intermediate and upper-intermediate level students.

Use the video and the worksheet below to teach the passive voice including sections on passive reporting verbs (it is said that…), and the causative (I had my shoes polished…).


thumb Get the worksheet here: Downton Abbey Effect


Watch the video on YouTube.

A transcript of the video can be found here.

Embedding is disabled so you have to visit the link above to watch.

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


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.


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


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.


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

eye top.JPG

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.


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…)


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



Miranda (BBC) – Teacher (Series 1, Episode 2)


The Series

Miranda is a British sitcom by BBC which centres around the life of the title character, a 30-something unlucky in life and in love. Its main themes are relationships, friendships and embarrassing social situations. The age-rating for the series is 15 and although fairly inoffensive, it is suitable for more mature audiences due to it preoccupation with sex and frequent use of sexual innuendo. In my experience the series works well in the ESL classroom as it draws heavily on slapstick comedy rather than complicated word-play.

The Episode

In this episode Miranda and her sidekick decide to attend a French class in order to improve their romantic prospects. The French teacher ends up being one of Miranda’s old school teachers so she joins a salsa dancing class instead. Miranda’s friend then starts a relationship with the teacher and Miranda must confront head-on her hang ups about sex and her former teacher.

Students respond well to the episode as it centres around the idea of attending a language class. The episode also features many different national stereotypes which can be developed into a class discussion which works especially well in a mixed nationality class.

Level and Language Focus

I would recommend this episode, depending on its presentation, for  high-intermediate to advanced classes.

The themes in the episode lead quite nicely into a discussion about national stereotypes.

Passive constructions (It is said that…, X are said to be…) can be used very effectively to discuss stereotypes. These type of constructions are usually introduced at level B2 (Upper Intermediate) although a good intermediate class should have no problems with their construction.


You can download a free worksheet related to this episode featuring vocabulary and grammar activities here.

Miranda Worksheet (Right click, Save As…)


You can find the episode most easily on Netflix (UK). It is also usually available on sites such as Vimeo, Daily Motion and YouTube.

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