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.

New York Times (YouTube Channel), “Why It’s Hard to Keep the Pounds Off”

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The Video

New York Times joins two previous winners of the reality series The Biggest Loser in their struggle to keep the extraordinary weight loss they achieved on the show up. The story is not all positive with experts offering support in the form of scientific theories why it is especially difficult to keep the pounds off.

Language Focus and Level

This video provides an easy to understand voice-over with more challenging, interview-style dialogue making it good for classes in which levels may vary. The video could be used with strong intermediate and upper intermediate classes.

In talking about their experience since the show, the couple use the present perfect simple and continuous and you can find activities connected to this in the worksheet below.

Worksheet

thumb A worksheet with accompanying activities is available here: The Biggest Loser

Availability

Watch the video via YouTube.

What Would You Do? (ABC News, USA), “Too Young to Shoot Guns?”

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The Video

What Would You Do? is an American feature in which actors stage socially delicate situations to see the reaction of the public. With a generally liberal outlook the series is a feel-good pat on the back for Americans which at times seems to suggest that problems such as racism, sexism and homophobia no longer stand. Having said this, the series is pretty good for looking at hypothetical situations in class.

The video connected to the worksheet below looks at attitudes to kids using guns at a gun shop in Texas. The video shows just how much support for guns exists (albeit in a gun shop!) and may provide a good insight into the American psyche as the adage “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is throw into the debate again and again.

The video does feature the sale and use of guns which could be a sensitive subject to some. If you have a class of people who used to live in warzones please consider the use of this video carefully.

Use the worksheet below to include more videos from this series either in the lesson or as homework.

Level and Language Focus

A lot of the interaction in this video is subtitled, aiding understanding but also providing listening practice. The main listening practice however comes from the helpful narration over the top of the action which is clear and simple making the video accessible and useful for intermediate and upper intermediate levels. If you have a particularly adventurous class, even a strong pre-intermediate class could follow the action, but we would only recommend this if you have a good knowledge of your class.

The video is great to teach the second conditional.

Worksheet

thumb Download the worksheet: What Would You Do (Right Click, Save As…)

Availability

You can watch the video via YouTube.

Dragons’ Den Next Gen Den (CBC, Canada), Culinary Pitches

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The Videos

Dragons’ Den is the Canadian version of the American series Shark Tank, a business based reality show in which budding entrepreneurs bid for the investment of a panel of successful venture capitalists.

These three clips feature food-based business propositions: Junked Food, a gourmet take on of your favourite snacks, DineCasa, an interesting proposition in which you pay to dine in a stranger’s home and Picnix, an al fresco catering service for those wanting to avoid the hassle of preparing their own cucumber sandwiches.

Level and Language Focus

The programme is perfect for business English classes, especially if have to prepare presentations or pitch similar to the videos as the worksheet highlights the specific vocabulary for business presentations.

With this being a fast-paced reality TV show, the language is not easy for English learners and we would only recommend these videos for strong upper-intermediate and above.

Worksheet

ws thumb.JPG Download the free worksheet: Dragons’ Den Canada WS (right click, save as…)

Availability

All the videos are available on YouTube: Junked Food pitch, DineCasa pitch and Picnix pitch.

 

The Apprentice (BBC, UK) Series 1, Episode 6, “Advertising Executives”

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The Episode

The UK version of this global hit replaces Donald Trump with Sir Alan Sugar producing a far classier, business-focussed affair. In this week’s task, the teams become advertising executives producing a TV and press ad campaign for the mass-market.

Level and Language Focus

The video is perfect for adding a little more fun to business and professional English classes, it also has mass appeal for any adult class. There is a good variety of speaking styles: interviews direct to camera, presenting to a panel, arguing and discussing and the commentary via voice-over. The action does become rather heated and there are plenty of expletives, so the episode isn’t suitable for sensitive audiences.

There is plenty of business English vocabulary to study (see worksheet below) and a possible language extension would be to introduce the third conditional for blame, “If you had spent more time on the press ad, it wouldn’t have looked so terrible”.

Worksheet

A worksheet about the task-part of the show is available here:

The Apprentice – s01e06 Worksheet (right click, save as…)

I would recommend using the worksheet in class and instructing the students to watch the rest of the video at home for homework.

Availability

You can view the video on YouTube.

 

Self-Study

Here is a Riddle Quiz that students can complete away from class. It concerns the same material as the worksheet but, depending on the students, it could be useful for them to watch at home before watching in class.