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.

 

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

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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.

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

 

Availability

You can view the videos on YouTube 1 & 2.

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

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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.

Worksheet

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

Miranda Worksheet (Right click, Save As…)

Availability

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.