Bottom (BBC, UK), “Mr Gas Man!”

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The Video

Bottom was a mid-nineties slap-stick comedy with Rik Mayall featuring two professional losers and their catastrophic lifestyle. This form of comedy works well in the English Language classroom as clever wordplay is side-stepped in favor of  visual gags.

This clip features a visit from the gas man, however, Eddy and Ritchie are stealing their neighbor’s gas and aren’t so keen on letting him in. When he finally does enter, the comedy arises from their continued use of very formal constructions despite plans to hit him over the head.

Language Focus and Level

This video has been selected as a lot of the dialogue is intentionally slow, meaning students of levels intermediate and above should be able to pick up what is going on.

The worksheet below features vocabulary help and the grammatical focus is on making, accepting and refusing requests and offers.

Worksheet

gas.JPG   Download the worksheet here: Bottom

Availability

The video is available via YouTube.

Communication Activity: Relative Clauses

This is a grammar extension activity if you have taught relative clauses and feel your class needs speaking practice in this area.

Firstly, as for the main activity your class may need to use the alphabet quite heavily to complete the activity, it may be of value to recap the pronunciation of individual letters using the following worksheet (depending on how confident your students are with the alphabet).

thumb alaphabet  Find the worksheet here: Dictating and The NATO Phonetic Alphabet

Next we have the main activity which explained fully in the teachers notes at the end of the document. Crosswords are a fun way of practicing relative clauses as long as you ensure students use them in their clues: “3 Down is a city where The Beatles were born”.

This exercise features two corresponding crosswords and is a communication activity in which students for their own clues for the items from UK and USA culture listed on the worksheet.

The activity is suitable for intermediate and above, and also requires that students have at least a basic knowledge of UK and USA culture.

thumb Find the communication activity here : UK and USA Culture

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.

Good Morning Britain (ITV, UK), “Dress Code Sexism”

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The Video

Since Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, his Celebrity Apprentice chum Piers Morgan has been stirring up controversy on Good Morning Britain, a breakfast magazine show in the UK.

Almost in perfect timing with Trump’s Dress Like a Woman  debacle, here Piers talks to Nicola Thorp, a woman who lost her job in a dispute over having to wear heels at work.

Language Focus and Level

Being a heated debate, this video is challenging on account of speed and the fact that the speakers sometimes talk over each other. The vocabulary used, however, is not that advanced and you could try this video with upper intermediate students and above.

The video is full of conditionals; zero conditional and second conditional are particularly prevalent and are highlighted in the worksheet below.

Also detailed in the worksheet, we have a section on the functional language of debates; agreeing/disagreeing, making a point etc. and a section on the pronunciation of the following phonemes:

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Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: Dress Code Sexism Worksheet

Availability

Watch the video over at YouTube.

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).

The Last Leg (Channel 4, UK), “How I Learnt To Shoot A Bow With No Arms”

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The Video

USA Paralympian, Matt Stutzman, explains how he honed his incredible archery skills despite being born without arms. An amazing story, this video is both funny and inspirational.

Language Focus and Level

This video is suitable for intermediate and upper intermediate level students. The grammar focus in the worksheet below is the future of the past, often covered within reported speech.

Worksheet

thumb  Download the worksheet here: how-i-learnt-to-shoot-a-bow

Availability

Find the video on YouTube.

Communication Bonus: USA Number Quiz & UK Number Quiz

Here are two more variations on our current run of quizzes, this time we have number quizzes based around fun facts about the USA and the UK.

With some vocabulary help, these resources can be used with intermediate and above level students and would be perfect for USA-based or UK-based summer schools and teaching English to migrants and refugees in the USA or the UK.

Download the quizzes here: USA in Numbers and UK in Numbers

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