Archive for the ‘video lessons’ Category

Recently Alex over at TEFLtastic has been pondering questions such as “Why are Advanced level textbooks so crap?” and “Do you need to be able to discuss globalization to be Advanced?”

Regarding that first one, various commenters at the post in question were quick to point  to factors such as 1) “weird grammar bits and obscure vocabulary”, 2) “trying to do and crowd in too much”, and 3) publishers “don’t care that much” about Advanced textbooks (being that they don’t sell as much as Elementary level books).

In the Advanced textbook I’m using now–like pretty much every textbook of any level ever produced by anyone ever (for adult learners at least)–there’s a unit on the Lottery.

In this case, it’s an excuse to review mixed conditionals, expressing regret (“I wish I had bought a ticket”, “If only I could win the Pick-6″, and so forth), you know, all that good stuff.  Being not so enthused about the listening and the ensuing”grammary”, “conditional-y” segment in the coursebook, I dove into the multimedia miasma that is Youtube in search of some at least nominally relevant video to show the class, and came up with this:

Psyched I was, being that the target language was right there waiting for them at the end.  (“My wife said she wished she’d torn the ticket up”, “Do you wish you’d never won?”).  Plus there was the perverse attraction of doing something different–something depressing.  I’m usually one to constantly play up everything for yuks, so this seemed like a nice change of pace from my “thuggish-cracker” sense of humor (Nick Jaworski dixit).

I made a little task sheet to go along with the video, which is here: “LOTTERY CURSE“.

Before showing the video, I would play the first minute or so with the sound off, introducing the “characters” (Jack, Brandi, and Jesse), and getting students to talk about them, what their relation is, and what they think will happen to the three of them.

Then distribute the handout, play it once all the way through and have them try to complete the sentences 1-10.  You may need to start it around 4:18 the second time around for students to get the last three sentences in.  Check the answers as a class, move on to part II of the worksheet and discuss.

Then in the last part, students write a sentence using the extremely skeletal prompt in part III.  This is meant to elicit a variety of conditionals–2nd, 3rd, mixed, whatever.  When they’ve finished, have some students come up to the board and write their sentences.  Then you can compare and contrast the forms, the meaning, etc., transitioning into whatever controlled practice activity floats your boat thereafter.


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So, not long ago I was talking at length about the SEETA online course on YouTube, led by Jamie Keddie.  And I completely forgot to include perhaps the most amazing thing I discovered there.  I think you’ll agree that you don’t have to be a fan of M.O.P., or of roughneck mid 90s NY hip-hop in general in order to appreciate the sheer genius involved in syncing this up (Bert’s verse is priceless):

Thanks to Jamie.  And to the rest of you, you’re welcome.

Anyways, time for a lesson plan, it’s been a while.

Right then.  I was at a loss for inspiration.  It had been ages since I’d come up with any new teaching material worthy of posting on $4MT.

But then, thanks to the visit of my main damies (good friends in Pootie Tang speak, if you must know) Danny and Viswas two months ago, I was introduced to the strange and oddly fascinating universe of Neely Comics, and somewhere deep down I knew it would only be a matter of time before I managed to adapt this weird new world to my dastardly teaching purposes.  Mbwah, ah, ah… (*maniacal laughter*)

So, I took it upon myself to make a “decaffeinated” version of one of the Professor Brothers videos most ripe for exploitation in the language classroom: “Future Thoughts”.  See my tutorial on Windows Movie Maker for the “censored version”. (To Mr. Brad Neely, if you’re reading this: Please don’t  hate me, or more importantly, please don’t take legal action against me.  Just holler and your boy will take it down.)

It starts with a group activity on describing people from  a picture, a little prediction task,  a simple little listen and match, a “sentence telepathy” activity with sentence heads, and a debate about what the future holds for us all.  And maybe, if you have the means to do so, a “vox pop” type video similar to the one featuring the Professor Brothers, Baby Cakes and other denizens of China, IL. (more…)

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Want to spice up a dull food-and/or-restaurant-related unit with your Intermediate/Upper-Intermediate students?  Or you want to set up a unit related to language for making complaints?  Or perhaps you just want to give your tourist-industry class a quick laugh and have a little discussion.

If any of the above are true in your case, then I heartily welcome you to the Burgundy Loaf:


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I’m back!  What?! What y’all know about that? What?! What?!

Oh, ahem.  Hi, hello there.  I’ve not been doing much posting as of late.  To make up for that, I’m gonna try to double up here.

As things wind down to a close and the kids finish their schoolwork and take their exams, we’re left in a bit of a lull until the actual end of the course.  And of course, the people want songs.  Songs, songs, songs.

So here’s one.  It’s related to sports and sports vocabulary.  It’s “We Like Sportz” by the Lonely Planet, from their album Incredibad. It’s kind of hilarious.  Could be appropriate for that unit related to sports in your typical pre-intermediate/intermediate level.  The “cheating sux!” line goes perfectly with Unit 1C from New English File Intermediate, for example.

It starts with a little vocabulary word-map / brainstorming activity.  Then there’s a listen-and-tick-the-things-you-hear joint.  Then you got a little correct-the-rhyme-scheme, then-listen-and-check joint.  Then a little fill-in-the-blank action.  Then some discussion activity type flavor–do a “Why? Why? Why?” game in pairs, then talk about it together as a group.

We Like Sportz (MS Word doc, 36 KB)

And here’s the video:

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As usual, this lesson is not recommended for uptight or super-“by-the-book” type classes and cultural situations.  Highly appropriate for most Western, university-aged students.  (Although a lot of EU residents may be unfamiliar with what exactly “customs” is.)

“Do You Have Anything to Declare?” Travel English / Customs Roleplay Lesson Plan

level: intermediate / upper-intermediate

aims: practice “travel english” and customs situation; noun and verbs forms


Mr. Show “Shampoo” video

do-you-have-anything-to-declare (MS Word document, 38 KB) (more…)

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level: intermediate

aims: practice listening for detail, practice speaking, writing using 2nd conditional forms



(The Lesson Plan appears below.)

Those of us lucky enough to have students who fall into the demographic category now referred to as “tween” are always up for some song action in class. The students–out of either genuine interest or simply the lazy-minded perception that doing activities with songs is less “worky” than normal book work type things–clamor for them almost constantly.

Problem is, in recent years, we’ve been flooded by a lot of crap music.  I mean, straight garbage.  I mean, not to offend, maybe one of you out there reading this likes Black-Eyed Peas (I don’t), but you try finding a language point worth teaching in the lyrics of a song like, say, “My Humps”.  Or “Get Retarded”. And don’t even get me started on that High School Musical shite.  And Camp Rock, well, I’m not even trying to go there.

It is with great pleasure, then, that I present “If I Were a Boy” by Beyoncé, complete with idea for warm-up, two videos to use in class, two listening gap-fills, personalization, and a writing activity. (more…)

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level: intermediate

aims: present and/or review going to/will distinction for plans/promises, listening practice



(The lesson plan appears below.)

Well, I have very few classes left before I knock off for the holiday.  That leaves me thinking already about the New Year and that New Year English teaching favorite that is “reviewing future forms”.

Hence, the second installment in my “Mr. Show for English Teaching” series.

We’re looking at going to for personal plans and intentions vs. will for future facts and promises. (I don’t know about other languages, but speakers with Spanish as their L1 tend to confuse these two functions, often using will to talk about their plans for this weekend or to talk about the weather tomorrow, for example.)

Also, I kind of prefer to leave will for offers out of the equation and deal with it separately, as well as present continuous and present simple with future meanings and all that.  If not, I find that having so many variables and explanations can be counterproductive for the purpose of noticing and practicing these specific uses.

Here’s the video.


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