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This is another guest post by Katy Wright, the co-host of our podcast 2Ts in a Pod. This is a listening activity for B2+ students based around a clip from an episode of the popular podcast This American Life. The episode is called 20 Acts in 60 Minutes. The clip in question is an interview with the actor Tate Donovan in which he recounts a particularly embarrassing moment in his life. Download all the materials below:
- This American Life Powerpoint
- This American Life Transcript
- This American Life Student Handout
- This American Life Teacher’s Notes
- Audio Files: Full Clip and Section for Decoding
- Show a picture of Tate Donovan. Ask students if they recognise him (he was famously Joshua on Friends)
- Tell students that they are going to listen to an him talking about an embarrassing moment.
- Ask you students: What would an actor find embarrassing?
- Play the audio file (This American Life: 20 acts in 60 minutes)
- Were their predictions correct?
- Give students the transcript
- Ask them to listen again to the section and fill in the gaps. Tell them that there is one word per gap
- The students may need you to play it several times to get the right answer. Give them the first letter of the word to help them if they are struggling.
- Tell students that these are elements of connected speech. Ask students to drill (repeat after the teacher) the connect speech. If students are too embarrassed to do this tell them that it is ok to do this quietly (mumble drill)
- Ask students to listen to the section again and this time underline the stressed words. You do the first word as an example
- Check their answers
- Now ask students to drill the section, sentence by sentence. Using both the connected speech and the stress.
- Now tell them that they are going to say the words at the same time as the audio. Do this sentence by sentence, pausing in between to help students to catch up.
- Ask students if they feel this has improved their understanding of connected speech and intonation in English.
- Ask students to think about an embarrassing moment that they had or someone they know has had, but not to discuss is yet!
- Tell them to think for 2 minutes and write down 5 – 10 words about their story.
- When time is up, turn to their partner and tell their story
- Monitor the class and note down example of errors or interesting language that emerges
- In open class look at the emergent language and discuss improvements or other ways of expressing the same thing
- Ask students to turn to another partner and repeat their story. This time trying to use the improvements discussed in open class
- Ask students to write out their story for homework and record it on their phones. They can send the audio file to you for homework
Decoding Key – Stress Underlined
So all of a sudden, the 10 minutes we’re sitting there waiting for it to start, three or four people come up to me and recognize me. I mean, they know exactly who I am. And they are quoting lines from a television show I was on. And like, hey, you were Joshua on Friends.
This is a guest post by Katy Wright, the co-host of 2Ts in a Pod. It’s a listening activity based around a clip from episode 5: Pet Hates. Download all the materials below:
- Tell students they are going to listen to two people, Tim and Katy, talking about their pet hates. Check their understanding of pet hate [a common, everyday thing that can be really annoying]
- Ask student to predict in groups about what could annoy Tim?
- Listen to the extract and check their predictions
- Ask students if they also find these things annoying.
- Ask students to make a list of 3 of their biggest pet hates and share them with their partner
Listening in detail
- Tell students they are going to listen to the extract again. This time they write down expressions they hear related to being annoyed or irritated
- You may want to play the extract again is students are struggling
- Students compare the expressions they have written.
- Give the students the transcript of the extract. Ask them to underline the pragmatic language related to annoyance. Did they find them all?
- Check understanding of the expressions in open class. Point out the stressed words of these expressions
- Ask students to repeat the expressions with their partner to practice pronunciation and stress
- Go back to the list of 3 pet hates they discussed earlier in the lesson. Ask students to talk about them again but this time using the expressions from the extract
- Monitor and give feedback on emergent language
- Students can practice the conversation a few times with a partner and then record their conversation “podcast” style. This could then be shared among the other members of the group on WhatsApp or a wiki if they feel comfortable to do so.
1:43 – 3:00 minutes
Katy: [00:00:00] But first Tim, what really annoys you? What really drives you up the wall?
Tim: [00:00:05] What drives me up the wall. I would say, in general, inconsiderate people really get on my nerves. So, especially in public places like on public transport, for example. Here in Barcelona, it’s really common. So, say you’re on the Metro, okay, and you’re coming up to a stop and it pulls, the Metro pulls into the station and stops the doors open and people try to get on the Metro before you’ve got off. Yeah it really, really drives me insane.
Katy: [00:00:42] So annoying.
Tim: [00:00:43] If you just let us off everything would be so much easier. Yeah. It really really really really gets on my nerves. Also another thing on the metro I think it’s quite common, um, that really annoys me is people listening to music without headphones on their mobiles.
Katy: [00:01:02] That annoys me if people are walking down the street. I don’t know. Just turn it down, put headphones in. Or turn it down.
Tim: [00:01:11] Yeah. No one wants to listen to that.
Katy: [00:01:12] No one cares.
Tim: [00:01:14] So that, that’s what really really really annoys me. Yeah, It drives me up the wall.
This is a listening activity for B1+ students based around an extract from episode 11 of our podcast on the topic of Small World Stories and Coincidences. Download all the materials below:
- 2Ts Coincidence Powerpoint
- 2Ts Coincidence Transcript
- 2Ts Coincidence Teacher’s Notes
- 2Ts Coincidence Student Handout
- Audio File
Use the first slide on the PowerPoint to introduce the topic and have students predict what kind of coincidences two identical twins separated at birth could have experienced.
Students listen and try to write down all the coincidences they hear then compare in partners and listen again if necessary. Task check using PowerPoint slide:
- Both called James
- Both grew up to be police officers
- Both marry a Linda
- Both had sons called James Alan/Allan
- Both had a dog called Toy
- Both remarried women called Betty
Students listen again and write down expressions for expressing surprise:
- No way!
- You’re shitting me!
- That’s mental!
- How bizarre!
3rd Listen: Decoding
Students listen to the first section again and fill in the gaps with elements of connected speech:
I’ve got some coincidence stories that have happened in the world. This one’s a good one. Right. So, as I mentioned I studied psychology at University so I’d, I’d heard about these guys. This is an article that I found on boredpanda.com. And it’s called “10+ crazy coincidences that are hard to believe actually happened”. So here’s the thing. There’s two twins who were separated at birth.
Students think of a surprising story or event from their own lives and write down 6 key words needed to tell the story. They then tell the story to their partner who reacts using the expressions. Teacher gives feedback/error correction, then they swap partners and repeat the exercise having taken the feedback on board.
Image credit: Chambers Management
Just a quick note…
Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉
This is a listening activity for B2+ students based around a Youtube clip of a Joe Lycett stand-up comedy routine on the subject of scammers. Download the handout, teacher’s notes, full transcript and powerpoint below:
- Joe Lycett Leadin Powerpoint
- Joe Lycett Teacher’s Notes
- Joe Lycett Student Handout
- Joe Lycett transcript
Use the first slide of the PowerPoint to pre-teach the UK cultural references students will need for the video:
- Class and social status are very important in the UK, this manifests itself in snobbery about supermarkets: Waitrose is a posh expensive supermarket, Aldi is a cheap, lower quality one.
- Dorothy Perkins is a relatively cheap high street clothes shop.
- Gumtree is a popular website where people list many things: properties for rent, things for sale etc.
- A scam is when someone tries to trick someone else out of their money. Common scams include: email scams, social media scams, rental scams, holiday apartment scams (timeshare), fake goods scams (watches, shoes, handbags etc.)
- In pairs students compare their own country with the UK, do these scams exist?
Students discuss in pairs.
- You’re going to watch a video of the British comedian Joe Lycett telling a story about how he scammed a scammer via email.
- What do you think he’s going to do?
Watch the first part of the video (until 01:26) and answer the question:
- What is the scam? A property scam, to get a viewing of a flat, potential tenants must transfer money using a site called moneytoindia.eu
Now watch again and answer these questions:
- Why does Joe start emailing Gemma? His friend discovers it and realises it is a scam.
- What does Gemma say about the flat? That it is in a beautiful area with parking facilities.
- What does Gemma ask Joe to do? Send $220 and his home address.
Prediction: What is Joe going to do next?
Watch the next part (until 2:06): Were your predictions correct?
- Where did Joe say he was? In Stockholm
- Where was he really? In his garden in Birmingham drinking prosecco.
- What was Gemma’s excuse for not meeting him? That she was in Berlin on a business trip.
Predict: What do you think Joe will do next?
Watch the next part (until 3:28): Were your predictions correct?
- What does the German phrase Joe uses mean? I know this is a scam.
- How did Joe make his story more convincing? By including a photo of himself in Berlin from a previous holiday.
- How did Joe finish the latest email? By saying he was going to contact the FBI to check Gemma out.
Predict: What do you think will happen next?
Watch the rest of the video: Were your predictions correct?
- How did Gemma react to Joe’s email about the FBI? She panicked and sent lots of emails.
- How did Joe give Gemma a taste of her own medicine? By asking her to send him $300 to cancel the FBI check.
- What did Gemma say in her last email? That she was sorry and would try to live a better life.
- What did you think of the video?
Decoding – Transcript Work – KEY
Watch the first part of the video again and fill in the gaps in the transcript with what you hear:
So this is my favorite thing that’s come as a result of me being a bit weird with somebody online. A friend of mine was looking for somewhere to live in London, which as I’m sure you’re aware is quite expensive, quite difficult increasingly.
He found somewhere on gumtree that looked kind of promising did a bit of emailing back and forth and realized pretty quickly this is probably a scam and so he sent all the emails that he’d done already over to me and just did the subject heading: “do your absolute worst”. A girl called Gemma, who was supposedly advertising this property, I sent her a fresh email, I said: “Hello Gemma I’m contacting you regarding the apartment listed on Gumtree, I’m interested in a viewing and wanted to arrange, regards Joe Lycett.” I used my own name on this one.
- Is this a good way to deal with scammers?
- Do similar scams exist in your country?
- Have you ever been a victim of a scam?
- What do you think of this type of comedy? Do you find it funny?
- Which other stand-up comedians do you like? Have you ever been to a live show?
- Did you enjoy this activity?
If students are struggling to understand the text, try slowing the speed down on youtube, or give them the full transcript as a last resort.
In this post, I’d like to share a project we worked on earlier today. I’d like to point out that it was not a single lesson but a block of four 45-minute lessons, in which a group of ten teenagers (12-15 year-olds, 8 girls and 2 boys) worked on their Six Word Stories.
Here’s what we did.
Portraits (icebreaker): First, I asked students to make pairs (some of them didn’t know each other very well, which was to the good). I gave each student a large piece of paper and I asked them to draw a portrait of their partner. When drawing, they faced each other and they were about 2 meters apart so that they couldn’t see each other’s pictures very clearly. When they finished, I asked them to walk over to their partners, show each other the portraits and talk about them for a few minutes. I…
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Image credit: marvel.com
This a lesson plan for B2+ students to teach language of regret. It uses a clip from The Amazing Spiderman and texts about historic regrettable decisions. Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:
Show students a picture of Spiderman and ask them: Why did Peter Parker decide to become Spiderman? They will probably say “because he was bitten by a radioactive spider”, but that’s not why, that’s how. Show them the video clip: Uncle Ben’s Death until 2:25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp5m4g7pZ9s
So he became Spiderman because it was his responsibility to stop innocent people like Uncle Ben from getting hurt. Ask students these questions:
- What happened?
- How does Peter Parker feel?
- What could have been different?
Check students’ answers, they will probably try to express Peter’s regret at not saving Uncle Ben. Give out the hand-out and draw their attention to the language of regret at the top.
Language of Regret
Look at the example sentences, what are the formulas for each structure?
- Peter regrets not stopping the robber.
- He should have done
- Uncle Ben shouldn’t have tried to pick up the gun.
- If Peter had stopped the guy, he wouldn’t have killed Uncle Ben.
- If Uncle Ben hadn’t tried to pick up the gun, the guy wouldn’t have shot him.
Read the texts about regrettable events from the past and make sentences using the structures.
Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs before winning seven Tour de France titles. A whistle-blower revealed information about his doping to the press but he denied it for years. Eventually the evidence was too much and he confessed to his crimes live on Oprah Winfrey’s chat show.
|Decca Records & The Beatles
In 1962, Dick Rowe, an executive at Decca Records, thought guitar groups were falling out of favour. On New Year’s Day that year, The Beatles auditioned to be signed to the record label. Rowe rejected their audition and decided not to sign them. The Beatles went on to become the biggest selling band in history.
In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with his grand army of 680,000 soldiers. Instead of fighting the French, the Russian army retreated further into Russia burning the farms and supplies as they went. After winning some minor victories the French were forced to retreat because of the freezing Russian winter. Only 27,000 soldiers from the original army survived.
- Lance Armstrong regrets taking banned substances. He shouldn’t have taken performance enhancing drugs. If he hadn’t taken the drugs, he wouldn’t have won 7 titles.
- Dick Rowe regrets not signing the Beatles. He should have signed them. If he had signed them, he would have been rich.
- Napoleon regretted invading Russia. He shouldn’t have invaded Russia in winter. If he hadn’t invaded Russia, he might have conquered the whole of Europe.
My Biggest Regret
Students might be reticent to discuss this topic, if so try to encourage them to talk about a friend or family member’s regrets, often a bit of distance can help students open up and express themselves. It could also help if you shared some of your regrets with the class first.
- Do you have any regrets? What about your family and friends?
- Have you ever had an accident that was your fault? What happened?
- If you could relive any part of your life, what would you change?
- How would your life be different?