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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.