Posts Tagged ‘SPEAKING’

One of my favourite songs of late is Somebody That I Used To Know by Belgian-born Australian artist Gotye, featuring New Zealand singer, Kimbra. It is no surprise that this song won an award at the 55th GRAMMY AWARDS.

Interestingly, when I decided to write this lesson I was surprised to find another lesson on the same topic at  I hope you find my ideas a good addition to the theme.

Start by showing the learners the pictures of the two artists and ask the learners to imagine they are ordinary people. Get the learners to give them names. if they wish.

In pairs, get the learners to brainstorm adjectives to describe the two characters’ appearance and personality.  Tell learners to suggest both positive and negative descriptions as in Figure 1.

Man and Woman

Figure 1

After that, get the learners to discuss whether these two people should or shouldn’t have a romantic relationship. Get them to present their opinions like this:

Opinion Bubbles

Listen to the ideas around the class. Write some of the learners’ opinions on the board. Then, tell the learners that you’re going to play music video entitled ‘Somebody that I used to know’. Before they watch video and listen to the song, tell the learners that the song tells the story of a romantic relationship between a man and woman. Put up the song title on the board and get the learners predict the content of the song. Get some feedback and then play the music video for them to confirm their guesses. You might have to play the song various times.

Give the learners a copy of the chorus and tell them to read it and discuss who they think might be speaking in it, the man or the woman, and why.


Conduct a discussion with the class about their ideas. Then, play the song again for them to listen to the lyrics and check who says these lines.  The answer is the man.

Now, divide the class into two teams, A and B.  Give team A. WORKSHEET 1.

Give team B, WORKSHEET 2.

Focus the learners on the VOCABULARY DEFINITIONS at the bottom of the worksheets.

Tell them to work together and match these definitions with the words in italics in the sentences in the table. Monitor and assist them here.

Sit with each group separately and get feedback on the answers, clarifying pronunciation and other relevant aspects of form and meaning as well.  Move on to the table and show the learners the examples given on each worksheet.

It is the learners’ task to interpret what the speakers are trying to say in each line, preferably in their own words. Repeat feedback with each group.

It is time now to work on pronunciation!!!

Give the learners the PRONUNCIATION WORKSHEET below:

Instruct them to find different pronunciation features in the sentences on their worksheets and place them in the boxes under the appropriate category.  Emphasise that one example of each category is done for them.  The learners should also use the chorus for this. Monitor and assist where necessary. Get feedback from around the class. Be prepared for a full-on discussion about the answers to the task.

Move on to the final stage of the lesson. Tell the learners that they are going to role-play a conversation between the man and the woman. Before they start, give them time to prepare within their own groups. For this, give them the following instructions:

  • make small notes about what you want to say
  • try and use some of the lines from the songs in the conversation
  • focus on the pronunciation of what you are saying

Wrap up the lesson by playing the music video for the learners to sing along and enjoy.

Have fun!


This second lesson about New Zealand is about the Māori and their language. Use this lesson as a preparation for the learners to give a small talk about their own culture and language.

Start the lesson by getting learners to read the text about the Māori language and traditions (see Figure 1) and to  answer the following questions:

  1. Why would visitors to New Zealand feel confused on their arrival?Maori man
  2. How similar is Māori to English?
  3. How many vowels are there in Māori? What about consonants?
  4. What’s the difference between Tena koe and Tena koutou?
  5. How many people speak Māori in New Zealand according to the article?
  6. Why do you think the Māori have many traditions?
  7. What does the word marae mean?
  8. What is the haka?
  9. What is the Maui legend about?

Figure 1

Give feedback on the answers and then get the learners to mingle and talk to each other about which aspects of Māori culture  they find the most interesting.

Then, focus the learners on the pronunciation of Māori vowels and consonants by using the video below.

Maori Language

After that, tell the learners that you going to give them the lyrics of a well-known New Zealand folk song, Pokarekare Ana. Get them to read the lyrics and their English translation.

Give the learners time to focus on the different words of the song. Encourage them to use the information from the video to pronounce the Māori words in the song. Go over the footnotes with the class and then, for a bit of fun, get the learners to sing along to the song.

Finally, get the learners to prepare a small talk of approximately 3 minutes about their own culture. To do this, write up some ideas on the board for the learners to consider. For example:

  • history and geography
  • language and traditions
  • food and drink
  • indigenous people
  • fauna and flora
  • national symbols
  • legends

To add an element of challenge and to motive the learners to compare their own pronunciation to English, get them to include in their presentations some information about sounds in their own language which are similar and different to English. For example, Portuguese speakers would have no problem using the words banana and zebra in an English context, but would probably be misunderstood when saying radio, which they would probably pronounce with an ‘h’ rather than an ‘r’ consonant sound and with /a:/ vowel sound not a /ei/ diphthong.

Hopefully, this lesson  will trigger an interesting discussion about culture and  pronunciation with your class.

This speaking activity focuses on asking questions and making comments to people based on the content of a movie clip. The clips in question are from the movie Love Actually (2003).

These clips features the characters Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Mark (Andrew Lincoln) in a quasi-love triangle relationship.

Clip 1: from the start of the scene at the Nile art gallery, more precisely when the poster which reads ‘Christmas Uncovered: Yoshio Mahoto’ comes up on the screen up to the point in which Mark dismisses Juliet on the phone by saying ‘I must go’.

Clip 2: from the part where Mark is at home eating his breakfast while watching TV up to the part where he is walking by the Thames feeling down in the dumps.

First, tell the learners that you are going to play two short clips from the movie above and their task is to discuss the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between the people?
  • How do they feel about each other?
  • What is the matter?
  • What would you do if you were them?

Then, play the clips and get the learners to discuss the above questions together. Follow this up with feedback from around the classroom.

After that, give the learners the LISTENING WORKSHEET below.

Tell the learners that their task is look at the SENTENCE STEMS on it and predict their endings.

As an example, write the following sentence stem on the board and elicit from the class possible endings for it e.g.  Peter: ‘I’ve got Juliet on the other line. Mark, be kind / nice / friendly etc.

After that, play the clips for the learners to check their answers. Please note that you may have to play the clips more than once. Then, conduct feedback from around the class.


Tell the learners that they are going to simulate being part of a chat show in which they interview the people from clips. The chat show works in the same way as a HOT SEAT activity.

Before they start, give the learners time (approx. 10 min.) to prepare questions and comments for Peter, Juliet and Mark based on the content of the clips.

Set up the classroom in the following seating arrangement:

Invite three learners to the front of the classroom or draw their names out of a paper bag. These learners will play the role of Peter, Juliet and Mark. Tell the learner that you will be the presenter and anyone else will be the audience.

Give the audience a microphone (possibly made of paper) and tell them that their task is to ask questions or make comments to the people on the hot seats.

Tell the learners on the hot seats that they should try and answer the questions and/or respond to the comments made to them using the information from the clips or their own ideas. Improvisation is always a good thing.

The chat show should take about 5 min. after which the learners on the hot seat swap place with other three people from the audience and the chat show resumes.

As a presenter, you ensure the smooth run of the show and help out with language, especially with pronunciation problems, when these occur. Also, you may like to prepare some prompt cards for the audience.

You will find more activities using Love Actually (2003) in Language Through Film available at

Have fun.

Arizio Sweeting

This post focuses on an activity to give learners practice of language for expressing opinions. It is particularly useful for higher level learners. All you need is the clip (accessed via YouTube) of Part 1 of the British movie, Hot Fuzz, a learner’s dictionary and the worksheets provided.

Start by showing the learners the pictures of the male and female cops below.

Get the learners to discuss the following questions:

Would you like to be a police officer? Why (not)?

Elicit some ideas from around the class onto the board. Then, give the learners a learner’s dictionary to work with and the VOCABULARY WORKSHEET below.

Tell the learners that their task is to look up the words in bold, making notes of their definitions on their worksheet as per example provided. Monitor and assist where possible.

Encourage the learners to make notes about the pronunciation of the vocabualry i.e. individual sounds and word stress. Drill words which you think the learners may need help with.

After that, tell the learners that they are going to watch a clip from a movie about a Bristish police officer. Play the clip below up to the part where Police Constable Nicholas Angel shows his ID to the camera (time: 1.03 min.). Learners watch the clip and answer the following questions:

What is the police officer’s name? (Answer: Nicholas Angel)

What is his rank in the police force e.g. constable, sargent, captain, etc.? (Answer: constable)

Play the clip for the learners to answer the questions. Get the learners their answers with a partner and then conduct feedback with the class.

Now, tell the learners that Counstable Angel has been nominated for a TOP COP award, and their task is to decide on the criteria for this award.

Elicit from the class phrases for asking and giving opinions e.g.

Asking for an opinion

  • What about…? (informal)
  • How do you feel about …? (informal)
  • What do you think of…? (slightly formal)
  • What’s your opinion about…? (slightly formal)

Giving an opinion

  • I think… / I don’t think… (informal)
  • I reckon… (informal)
  • In my opinion,…(slightly formal)
  • From my point of view, ..(slightly formal)

Get the learners to decide on the level of formality of the phrases on the board (see above).

Then, learners work with a partner and discuss which items on the VOCABULARY WORKSHEET above would be good reasons for PC Angel to be awarded the title of TOP COP.

For that, learners should use the functional phrases on the board, like this:

Now, tell the learners that you are going to play the next part of the clip for them to confirm their predictions. Play the clip up to the part where PC Angel is stabbed in the hand with a knife (time: 2.20 min.). Clarify any vocabulary, if necessary. For example, Angle says that his hand is a bit ‘stiff’ from the knife attack.

TIP: It is also a good idea to give the learners some information about the British police force here. For this, I like to use the information about Law Enforcement in the United Kingdom from wikipedia:

British Police

As a follow-up stage, tell the learners that PC Angel has been transferred to a police department in a small country village in Gloucestershire, Sandford. Angel didn’t know anything about the transfer and was taken by surprise when his Sargeant broke the news to him.

In pairs or small groups, the learners try to guess what the Sargeant said to Angel during their conversation, using the LISTENING WORKSHEET below.

Point out to the learners that some of the Sargeant‘s line are given to them. Monitor and assist where possible.

Then, play the clip up to the part where the Sargeant picks up the phone and rings the  Inspector (time: 3.30 min.). Learners check answers with a partner. Play the clip one more time and then get feedback by checking how similar or different their predictions were to the original text.

After that, get the learners to practise the dialogue between Angel and the Sargeant, focusing on intonation, body language and facial expressions. It might be a good idea to go over the sentences in the dialogue with the class to help them with these.

To wrap-up the activity, organise the learners in groups, and get them to discuss the following:

  • whether they think PC Angel should be sent to the country
  • and whether they think the cops in their countries are as good as PC Nicholas Angel.

Here, encourage the learners to use the language for giving opinion they have learnt in the lesson.

If time, play the rest of the clip for the learners to find out how PC Angel‘s first day in Sandford was like. Alternatively, you could get the learners to predict this with one another instead.

Have fun!

Arizio Sweeting

What If…?

Posted: October 5, 2012 in Video Lessons

This post is the first in a series of video-based activities you will find in Pronunciation Central over the next few months for giving learners speaking practice.

This activity uses a clip from the Walt Disney cartoon – Sleeping Beauty– to give learners practice of language of speculation.  Although it can be used with learners at all levels of proficiency, it works better with higher level learners. In terms of materials, all you need for it is the clip below, some dice, strips of paper and the board.

On the board, write the following question stem: What would have happened if…?

Give the learners slips of paper and tell them that they are going to watch the clip and write questions to speculate about the content of the clip, using the question stem above.

Do one example with the class. One possible question could be: What would have happened if Sleeping Beauty hadn’t woken up from her spell?

After that, tell the learners to work in small groups of 3 or 4 and compare their questions. If there are multiple questions that are similar or the same, the learners should choose one of them to keep. Get the groups to put their questions together into a pile and place it face-down on their desk (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

On the board, write the following:

1,3,5,7 … = a negative turn of events

2,4,6,8 … = a positive turn of events

Give each group some dice. Tell the students in each group to sort themselves into A, B, C and D (see Figure 1).

TIP: I usually give each group of learners two sets of dice. I find that if I have tactile learners in my class that they really enjoy manipulating multiple dice in their hands.

Then, give the students the following instructions:

  1. Learner A turns over the first question on the pile and then throws the dice.
  2. If the number displayed on the face of the dice is even e.g. 2, this learner then suggests a possible positive turn of events in answer to the question. For example, imagine the question was What would have happened if the hero had lost his sword during the battle with the dragon?  A possible positive scenario could be It wouldn’t have been a problem. The hero would have made a spear out of a thick tree branch to stab the dragon on the neck.
  3. Learner B has a turn by throwing the dice and continuing with the speculations. In this case, however, if the number on the dice is odd, this learner needs to suggest a negative scenario such as Without his sword, the hero would have probably got burnt on the arm.
  4. The steps above continue until learner D has had a turn and the cycle is repeated.
  5. At the end, the learners discuss which scenarios were the most and the least creative.

As a follow-up, get the learners to think of a particular event in their lives which they would be happy to share with other people in class. This event could be a simple daily event such as missing the bus to school or winning some money on a scratch card.

In pairs or groups, the learners talk about their personal events and say what they think would have happened if the events had taken a different turn, either for better or worse.

For instance:

S1: I missed my bus to school this morning and was really late for class. If I had got out of bed earlier, I would have been earlier for my bus and would have got to school on time for the revision of the third conditinal I had been looking forward to for a while. I would certainly have been much happier.

S2:  Last week, I won $250 on a scratch card. If I hadn’t bought the card, I wouldn’t have won this money and wouldn’t have been able to go on a trip to Noosa for the weekend. I had a great time there.

Alternatively, you could get the learners to write a different version of the scene, using some of the ideas suggested in the activity above.