>Cranking up your class with the power of TV commercials

>A teacher is looking for some ideas to make his classes more lively. Here are some suggestions on how to power-up his classes and get his students excited about learning English.

You said you were playing videos in English with Chinese subtitles. As I said, movies are a little bulky to use easily in English training. But the good news is that most of the time when the students say “We want movies,” they really mean they want some variety. They are getting bored with the book and the routine.

I’ve found that commercials, especially to promote speaking, are just fantastic. Try it in your class. Download this video: FISHING

1. In your classroom divide your students into pairs and then divide the pairs into partners “A” & “B”.

2. Tell “A” to watch the screen and “B” to turn around. With the sound off, show the first 31 seconds of the commercial to your “A” students.

3. Now “B” students face the screen and “A” students look away. Show the rest of the video to the “B” students.

4. Now “A” and “B” students talk to each other and try to figure out the story of the commercial. Remind them to speak to each other in English. Walk throughout the classroom checking on them and helping them. You will soon have an animated classroom full of excited students.

After they’ve had enough time to discuss it ask a few students to explain what their partner told them. Don’t ask what they saw. Ask what their partner told them. This extends the speaking exercise as they have to orally report what they heard. Afterwards show the video again to the whole class with the sound on.

The commercial is made by McDonald’s. A woman drops off her husband so he can go fishing on a wooden dock. It’s clear that she doesn’t approve of him fishing or perhaps doesn’t approve of him in general. He gets his equipment ready and sits down to begin. He pulls out a lunch, a take-out bag from McDonald’s and sets it next to him. Suddenly something huge comes out of the sea. We don’t see what it but it must be a Great White Shark or similar monster. The man is terrified. Next we see the man is safe but a large section of the wooden dock, right where the McDonald’s lunch was, is bitten off. That’s the end of the first part, the part Student A would see. Student A doesn’t know what happens next.

Now the plot twist.

Student B watches. It appears that the man has convinced his wife to go fishing with him. He helps her get set up on the dock next to him. Then he pulls out a McDonald’s lunch and sets it in front of his wife and smiles. Student B doesn’t understand the significance of what he has seen.

The students love this sort of thing. They are mystified. They are curious. They are eager to figure out what is happening. And they have to do it in English. It is a super fast way to get students talking and talking and talking and in English.

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