Here's a video I used with my EM Normandie students as part of a lesson about entrepreneurs. You'll find a LearnClick gap-fill quiz below (but wait until you've watched the video before looking at the quiz, otherwise it's too easy!)
Here's an amusing cartoon from Itchy Feet, the travel and language comic by Malachi Ray Rempen that nicely illustrates different nationalities attitudes towards punctuality. Can you identify the various countries shown (the flags should help!)? You'll find the answer below.
ANSWER In order of arrival: Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom, France, and last but not least, Greece, Italy, and Spain, who all arrive (very late) together.
LESSON IDEA This cartoon would make a great discussion starter about cultural differences, especially if you have a mixed nationality group of students.
Of all this year's Christmas-themed ads, I think this one for Polish auction site Allegro is my favourite. It's touching, funny, and has some excellent ideas for learning English on your own. See below for lesson ideas and background articles.
LESSON IDEAS 1.Stop the video at 16s. Ask students what they think the ad is going to be about. 2. Stop the video at 22s. Ask students what they think he's doing on the computer. 3. Stop the ad at 23s. Ask students what country they think this all takes place in. 4. Stop the video at 30s and ask students what they think is in the box. 5. Stop at 47s. Ask students why they think the old man wants to learn English. 6. Stop ad at 55s. Ask students what advice they would give the old man about learning English on your own. 7. Discuss the various techniques the old man uses to learn English (all of which are excellent!) 8. Stop ad at 1m50. Ask students what they think is in the second box. 9. Stop ad at 1m59. Ask students who they think the woman is. (It's almost certainly a neighbour, who is going to look after his dog. I think we can assume he's a widower, i.e., his wife has died. That fits the narrative better than him being divorced or separated.) 10. Stop ad at 2m04s. Ask students where they think the man is going. 11. Stop ad at 2m16s. Ask students where they think the man is now (vocabulary = escalator). 12. Stop ad at 2m29 and ask who they think he's going to see. 13. Stop ad at 2m37. Ask students who they think the young man and the woman are (his son and his wife, I presume) 14. Ask students how they think the ad is going to end. 15. Show the rest of the ad. Cue handkerchiefs. 16. Q. Who is the little girl? A. His granddaughter. 17. We still don't know what the ad is for, so that can be the final question.
There's also lots of scope for vocabulary practice: lonely, widower, delivery van, parcel, kettle, boil, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, etc.
You might want to show the ad once again without stopping to get the full effect.
NOTES 1. Did you notice he mixes up the words for 'knife' and fork'? I'm assuming that's not a deliberate mistake. 2. He also pronounces 'pyjamas' wrongly. See here for correct pronunciation. 3. Britain has a big Polish community (nearly a million) which is wondering if they will be able to stay in the UK following the Brexit vote.
COMMENT It's just as well he doesn't say 'I gonna fuckin' kill you!' to his granddaughter!
This lovely short film for H&M directed by Wes Anderson has got to be my favourite Christmas ad so far this year. See below for ideas on using it in class and some background articles.
LESSON IDEAS 1. Stop the ad at 3m20s and get students to speculate about what happens next. 2. Put students in groups and get them to make a list of all the characters in the ad. Describe their appearance. Who are they? What's their 'story'? For example, why is the young boy travelling alone? 3. Get students to talk about their plans for Christmas. Are they going anywhere? Will they be travelling by train?
Here's an ad for the new MacBook Pro that would be great to use in class.
DESCRIPTION An ambitious new ad bridges humans' discovery of fire with space travel and smartphones using a classic symbol for the power of imagination—the light bulb. A string of hundreds of the round glass lanterns, set up in the middle of a city's empty streets, explode in sequence to the sound of Rossini's William Tell Overture, tying together a montage of inventions spanning from the Stone Age to the Information Age. There is the invention of the wheel, and writing, and the plow, and the bicycle, and the locomotive, and the flying machine, and the motorcycle, and eyeglasses, and binoculars, and the rotary phone, and the typewriter—and perhaps most important, toilet paper. There's also the microwave, the camera, the record player, the television, the jetpack, the freezer, the paper clip, the Tamagotchi, the video camera, the computer mouse, the zipper, the wind farm, the jet plane, the microscope, the robotic hand, the robotic dog, the rocket ship, the iPhone, the drone, the satellite, the robotic man—and back, somewhere deep in the cave, a brand new laptop from Apple. [Source: Adweek]
LESSON IDEAS 1. Tell the students they are going to watch an ad that shows many inventions and that they must try to remember as many as possible. 2. Play the ad up to 1m28s. Stop and ask the class what they think the ad is for. Then show the end. 3. Put the students into groups and get them to list as many of the inventions as possible. This is a kind of video version of Kim's game. You could even have a prize for the best team. 4. Go through the ad again, pausing to focus on the inventions and discussing vocabulary points (you have to be quick with the pause button!) 5. Now get the groups to choose their top five inventions and rank them in order of importance or usefulness. Alternatively, you could just get them to choose the Number One invention of all time. 6. You also have a look at TIME's 25 Best Inventions of 2016, which provides a lot of material for discussion. 7. Get students to come up with their own inventions and present to the class.
NOTES 1. I'm sure there's a nod to (a young) Steve Jobs at 25s. 2. Strictly speaking, gravity is not an invention but a discovery.
The Christmas ads are coming thick and fast now. This one is for the Sainsbury's supermarket chain. It tells the story of Dave, a hard-working and devoted Dad, who realises that the greatest gift he can give people this Christmas is his time. Click on CC at the bottom to switch the subtitles on or off. You can read more about the ad here and download the lyrics as a Word file here.
LESSON IDEAS The lyrics contain useful examples of grammatical constructions (making wishes, conditionals, superlatives) and vocabulary/idoms, so would be worth studying in more detail. You could also use them to create a gap fill activity. Or get students to sing along ...
LYRICS Another year over Where do they go to? It's a mystery. Now it's December So much to remember Before Christmas Eve. I'm already late And my train is delayed Disruptions on the line. I race into work And the place is berserk Yes, it's Christmas time. I want to find the greatest gift I can give my family, But right now I don't have time to breathe. The streets are chaotic, The shops idiotic, There's a queue for the queue. A granny's taking her time at the front of the line "Ninety-one, ninety-two". There's a party at work And the manager's twerkin' inappropriately. To top off the day Another train is delayed, It's a catastrophe. "Christmas time is here". I'd like to spend the time With the ones I love so dear. I'm trying to find the greatest gift I can give my family. I don't have time, There's only one of me. Tell me how do people do it all, I'll never get it done. If only there was a way to be In two places at once. "Wait, that gives me an idea!" If I wasn't alone, What if I had a clone, I could do so much more. It would all be a breeze, With a couple more mes I'd have time galore. I want to find the greatest gift I can give my family. The greatest gift I can give is me. Now I can meet with the boss And empty out my inbox all simultaneously, Leaving me time to spend With my family and friends, Where I wanna be. I want to find the greatest gift I can give my family. The greatest gift that I can give is me. Repeat chorus
I've already posted some resources about Movember in previous years (see here), but only recently came across this great interview with a Movember spokesperson. For a lesson on Movember with my EM Normandie students, I produced a version of the transcript featuring a number of grammatical errors (see below). I first showed them the video, and then gave them a copy of the 'wrong' transcript, and got them to work in pairs to find the mistakes and try to correct them. You can find a Word file with the solution here.
Identify the 14 mistakes in this transcript and correct them.
Interviewer: For the uninitiated, explain what is Movember.
Tom Whiteside, Movember Spokesperson: So we are the leader global organization dedicated to change the face of mens' health. We do this by challenging men to grow a moustache, and only a moustache for the thirty days of Movember.
Interviewer: So which are the rules of Movember?
Tom: You start clean shaven on November one and you grow just the moustache for the thirty days, and of course you register your moustache to Movember.com.
Interviewer: And how much money have you risen to support men’s health and cancer researches?
Tom: The first year, 2004, they have raised $45,000. Since then we’ve raised over half a billion of dollars.
Interviewer: So how ladies can get involved with Movember?
Katelynn Whitaker, Movember Spokesperson: So, Mo Sistas are the female participants to Movember. You can start a team. You encourage all the men in your life growing a moustache for Movember. You can go to the store on Movember.com. We have a lot of awful partners. 7 For All Mankind has done a really fun boyfriend Movember jean, so you can rock a little moustache on your jeans.
It's still only November 1st but the Christmas ads have already started to appear. This one is for Temptations cat treats. You can find some interesting information about how they made the ad on Adweek. And see below for some ideas on using the ad in class.
LESSON IDEAS 1. Pause the ad after two seconds and ask the class what they think is under the sheet. 2. Pause the ad again at 37 seconds and ask the class to note down all the Christmas-related things they saw (they could do this in groups). 3. Pause the ad at 56 seconds, and ask the class how they think the ad will end. 4. Pause the ad one final time at 1m 09s (with the 'Keep them busy ...' slogan on the screen), and ask the class what they think the ad is for. 5. Play the ad once through without stopping to get the full effect.
DISCUSSION • Why does it say 'Keep them busy this holiday season' and not 'Keep them busy this Christmas' (a much catchier and alliterative slogan). • Ask students to rate the ad (one to five stars) and justify their rating.
If you have any other ideas, don't hesitate to comment below!
LESSON IDEA Print out hard copies of the four most interesting slides (in colour if possible) and put your students into groups of four. Get each student to prepare and deliver a mini presentation of the their slide for the others in the group. You could also get selected students to come to the front of the class and present their slide to the whole class using the videoprojector.
With over 16,000 free worksheets and nearly 2,000 articles, BusyTeacher has become one of the top online resource sites for ELT teachers. I've always thought their e-books were attractive, full of practical ideas, and good value at $10 each. However, there are over eighty of them, so buying just a few would stretch the budget of even the best-paid (or perhaps I should say least poorly-paid!) English teacher. Well, the good news is that all 80 e-books are now available at the bargain price of $80 (that makes a saving of $720!) Virtually every topic you could think of is covered, so it's a fantastic resource for both novice teachers and more experienced ones. Of course, it's not easy navigating 80 separate PDF e-books, so they've thoughtfully included a single searchable file in the bundle containing all 80 books (over 4,000 pages!) You can view some sample pages here.
VERDICT Perfect for teachers seeking original ideas for the new school year or wanting to upgrade their skills.
For teachers, it's that time of year again when the holidays are almost over and thoughts inevitably (if somewhat reluctantly!) turn back to teaching. Students too will be joining new classes, or even new schools. Many teachers will already have a selection tried and tested activities to help them get to know their new students, but if you're looking for something a bit different, check out Walton Burns' 50 Activities for the First Day of School, which may be the only collection of first day activities that is specifically targeted at ELT teachers. You'll find a lot of 'icebreakers' and warm-up activities, but also fun ways to introduce the rules, or do creative needs analysis. The book includes clear instructions and a lot of variations, so it's suitable for both novice and more experienced teachers. See here for a list of contents and some sample activities.
VERDICT A mix of old classics and new ideas make this a very useful collection of activities, which will provide plenty of ideas and inspiration for teachers wondering how to approach that all-important first class.
TIP Check out Walton's website, where you can find lots of other useful resources.
There have been many reactions to Britain's vote to the the EU (aka Brexit), but this bitterly ironic poem by English poet Luke Wright expresses what many 'Remain' voters are feeling. He reads it brilliantly too.
It’s Great to Have My Country Back by Luke Wright
The dream of ’45 is dead united Europe full of lead division reigns but SHIT THE BED It’s great to have my country back!
The markets shake like Georgie Best as Farridge thumps his flabby chest and struts about like Kanye West It’s great to have my country back!
Boo sucks to you Miss Merkel Frau no Englishman will ever bow our pound is worth a penny now It’s great to have my country back!
And here they come the dull and drab the clumsy, half-pissed power grab Angela Eagle! Stephen Crabb! It’s great to have my country back!
It’s great to have my country back well some of it at least as Sturgeon whips her scalpel out and Belfast calls the priest
Auf Wiedersehen controlling Krauts behold our future - mapped by louts - where Brussels only come with sprouts It’s great to have my country back!
Experts? Pah, what total tosh they take backhanders off the Bosch Nah, I trust Boris, cos he talks posh. It’s great to have my country back!
Chin-up Charlie, don’t get mis ignore the racists popping fizz. Look how straight this banana is! It’s great to have my country back!
At last our plucky nation’s free Hurrah for Bojo sipping tea and laughing: Me me me me me me! It’s great to have my country back!
COMMENT Although the narrator of the poem is ostensibly a 'Brexiteer' ("We want our country back" was one of the 'Leave' campaign's most successful slogans), the tone is clearly ironic. When Luke Wright says "It's great to have my country back!", he really means the opposite.
NOTES Teachers could use this poem with more advanced classes but there are probably some things that would need explanation. These notes may help:
1. The 'dream of '45' refers to the post-war (1945) creation of the EU, whose main aim was to make another war in Europe impossible 2. 'full of lead' - lead bullets, i.e., having been metaphorically shot 3. SHIT THE BED - an expression of surprise (not polite!) 4. George Best was a legendary Manchester United footballer who became an alcoholic, hence the shakes 5. Farridge - 'wrong' pronunciation of 'Farage', UKIP leader 6. '(Ya) boo sucks to' (someone) is a slang phrase used to insult people 7. Miss Merkel Frau: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor 8. half-pissed: half-drunk 9. Angela Eagle: contender for the Labour Party leadership 10. Stephen Crabb: contender for the Conservative Party leadership 11. Sturgeon: Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish first minister. There's a play on the word 'surgeon'. A surgeon uses a scalpel to cut people open. Sturgeon want to cut Scotland off from the rest of the UK (Scottish independence is 'back on the table' after Brexit) 12. Belfast: capital of Northern Ireland, which voted to remain in the EU. You call a priest when someone is dying. 13. Auf Wiedersehen: 'goodbye' in German 14. Krauts: offensive slang word for Germans (from sauerkraut?) 15. Lout: rude, offensive person 16. Brussels: EU capital and a metonym for the EU as a whole 17: Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are a vegetable 16. Tosh: rubbish ('Leave' campaigner Michael Gove famously said "people in this country have had enough of experts") 17. Backhanders: bribes (Gove also suggested the experts predicting post-Brexit chaos were being funded by the EU) 18. Boris: Boris Johnson, ex-mayor of London, leading Brexit campaigner 19. Posh: upper class (Boris went to Eton public school) 20. Chin-up: 'keep your chin up' means 'remain cheerful in difficult circumstances' 21. Mis: miserable (?) 22. Popping fizz: opening bottles of champagne (to celebrate the victory against immigration). Racist incidents have already increased. 23. Banana: one of the biggest myths surrounding the EU is that they tried to ban 'bent' bananas (see here) 24. Bojo: nickname for Boris Johnson
This ad for Loctite glue may be only 20 seconds long but it has a lot of possibilities for use in the classroom.
TRANSCRIPT PRESENTER: And now, next year's sales forecast. TECHNICIAN: Sorry guys, I need a minute. VOICEOVER: When you have a minute, tackle even big repairs with Loctite's fastest, strongest, all-purpose glue ever. New 60 Seconds all-purpose glue from Loctite.
LESSON IDEAS 1. Show students the ad and get them to transcribe what is said. The ad is short enough to play several times. 2. Pause the ad after six seconds and get the students to guess what the product is. 3. Show the whole ad and see how many of the broken objects they can remember (there's a rocking horse, a guitar, a radio-cassette player, a megaphone, a boot, and the presenter has what looks like a surfboard.)
LANGUAGE The ad plays on the name of the glue, 60 Seconds, and the expressions 'to need a minute' and 'to have a minute', which mean to need/have some time to do something (not literally 60 seconds!) • When you have a minute, can you repair the leaking cistern?
NOTE There are two other ads in this series (see here and here) but I thought this was the best one.
To coincide with International Women's Day 2016, Australian bank ANZ launched a social case study highlighting the gender pay gap in Australia by capturing the reactions of brothers and sisters doing the same chores but not receiving equal amount of money as payment. The video series, titled Pocket Money, aims to bring the financial inequality conversation to a personal, everyday level by posing a confronting and thought-provoking question: "How would our daughters feel if we paid them less than our sons for chores around the house?"
COMMENTS The children's reactions and comments are priceless, and made me laugh out loud once or twice. This would be a great video to use for exploring the topic of the gender pay gap (i.e., men being paid more than women for doing the same work). And it also contains several conditionals, which could also be the focus of a lesson. Some nice Australian accents too!
Here's a stylishly witty new ad for the Galaxy S7 phone. If you're a teacher, see below for some suggestions on how it could be used in class, and if you're a learner, try the quiz!
LESSON IDEAS 1. Show the ad and stop it at 50s (right after the voiceover says "there are only two things you really can't live without"). Get you students to guess what the two things are. 2. Show the rest of the ad and then go through it again focusing on vocabulary and grammar (there are several examples of the zero conditional). Note the double meaning of 'hot' - feeling the heat, and sexy. 3. Discuss other desirable smartphone features. 4. Brainstorm other possible uses of water.
TRANSCRIPT You live on a planet that is mostly water. If you don't put water inside your body, you die. If you don't put it on the outside of your body, you get disgusting gross diseases and your skin falls off. Some people fill giant bags with water and sleep on them. And sometimes water just starts falling out of the sky. You think this model's hot, but she's mostly just water. 72 per cent water. 73 per cent water. And smart people like this person say there's about to be even more water. People think it's really funny to find water people don't want to be in, and then push those people into that water. If you're religious, your goal is at some point to be forcibly submerged in water. When water freezes, people play on it. When it bubbles, people sit in it. When it moves, people slide down it. In fact, there are only two things you really can't live without. Water and your phone. So why in the world would you get a phone that can't get wet? The new water-resistant Galaxy S7 Edge.