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TED Talk Lesson Plans Introduction

This is an introduction to a series of lesson plans using TED Videos.

Who are the lessons for? Lessons were designed for one-on-one sessions where the student has good English but problems talking with native speakers. But they’re easily adaptable for lots of uses.

What’s the goal? Improve advanced listening and speaking skills.

How long is the lesson? You’ll likely need 3-5 hours, ideally spread out over several weeks, to do everything. You can do it quick or slow depending on the student’s level, goals, and time.

What should the student’s level be? Upper-intermediate to Advanced

Some thoughts on how to use the lessons…

Take your time. You might spend several weeks to complete all the discussions.

Emphasize to students that they should watch the video without subtitles several times before using English or native language subtitles and/or the transcript to help their understanding.

They should also watch the video many times in total. Repetition is helpful.

Send the students the questions before you talk about them.

Don’t do the lessons in consecutive weeks. Do lessons on other stuff too.

Example Timeline for Four 1-hour Lessons

During the Lesson: Discuss “Before you watch…” questions.

Homework: 1) Watch the video 2) First set of detail questions 3) Writing homework

During the Lesson: 1) Discuss the first set of detail questions 2) Review the writing homework 3) Discuss the first set of follow-up questions.

Homework: 1) Second set of detail questions 2) Reading homework.

During the Lesson: 1) Discuss the second set of detail questions 2) Review the reading homework 3) Discuss the second set of follow-up questions

Homework: 1) Third set of detail questions 2) Speaking homework

During the Lesson: 1) Discuss the third set of detail questions 2) Review the speaking homework 3) Discuss the third set of follow-up questions

Homework: None

Thoughts on how to adapt the lessons

All this is easily adaptable.

To make it shorter, just delete stuff. At its simplest, you might just do one set of detail questions.

For a class, pass out different questions to different students. They should find answers to their own questions and then ask a partner.

Corporate Titles and Organization Charts

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Corporate Titles and Organization Charts

Many Business English students ask about titles. For example: What’s the difference between a Senior Manager and a Vice-President? What do General Mangers do exactly? How do companies use titles differently? Trying to translate titles between English and another language can be quite tricky.

But a lesson on the topic can easily solve the problems. Here are several resources you can use and then some follow-up questions.

For starters… Wikipedia’s article on corporate titles is a good place to start. You’ll find a list of over 70 titles and descriptions of what the people do.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_title

Check out some org charts… You can find links to thousands of org charts on the internet. Just do a search for “org charts” or “organization charts”. Here are a few links, anyway. Look at them with your students and discuss how they are similar or different to each other. Also, which titles do you see?

Here’s one.

And another.

And one more.

How about a joke? Follow this link for a funny cartoon. Ask your students why it’s funny?

And an article to read… Finally, about.com has a nice article about org charts. It briefly talks about charts, titles, and the purposes behind them. You can use it as a starting point for a discussion.

http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/OrgCharts.htm

Here are some discussion questions you might ask your students:

  • What’s the purpose of an organization chart?
  • Do small companies need organization charts too?
  • At what size does a company probably need a chart?
  • How might a manager use a chart to increase productivity?
  • How might an unclear chart hurt productivity?
  • Which titles do all org charts need? Which titles are specific to certain companies?
  • What’s your dream title? Why?

22 Lesson Ideas

22 Private/Small Group Lesson Ideas…all you need is a laptop and a dream. And you don’t really need the laptop.

  1. Look at pictures of places and discuss.
  2. Read “The Road Not Taken” and discuss.
  3. Read “The Lottery” and discuss.
  4. Discuss trips you’ve taken. Start by thinking of all the adjectives you can.
  5. Think of a business situation and role play it (interviews, etc.).
  6. Summarize a movie.
  7. Summarize a book
  8. Summarize a trip.
  9. Summarize a past project.
  10. Summarize a future project.
  11. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website and discuss.
  12. Read an article from The Economist and discuss.
  13. TED.com videos (watch, discuss, comment).
  14. Learn speaking techniques at rachelsenglish.com.
  15. BusinessEnglishPod has 20 minute listenings you can expand into lessons.
  16. Pretend you’re making a hotel reservation online.
  17. Go shopping online and buy presents for the people you love.
  18. Or, buy stuff for yourselves online.
  19. Go to craigslist.com and try and sell something online.
  20. Order a pizza for a charity. Practice, then make a real phone call.
  21. Comment on YouTube videos. Like this one.
  22. Comment on Blogs. Like these.

Timing Lesson Plan

This lesson is part of a series of one-hour lessons that will help students improve their prosody skills. Prosody, in short, is word stress, timing, and intonation. For an introduction to the series, click here.

Name: I believe in Timing

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Prep Time: Just enough time to understand timing and print the worksheets.

Materials: This worksheet, and this worksheet too. (These are pdfs. If you want to change them, or you can’t download them for some reason, just copy and paste the text at the bottom of the post.)

Primary Objective: Improve Timing Skills

Other Benefits: Have fun singing a nice, slow song. Understand the different ways to use the word “believe”.

Plan:

5 Minutes Listen to “I Believe in You” by Don Williams.

10 Minutes Explain the concept of timing. Go here for more information on how to do this.

10 Minutes Complete this worksheet.  Students should choose which timing you’re using. You can read them out loud to the students. Or you can just play this track.

B didn’t like the movie.

It was…interesting.

Slowly, and slowly.

I waaaaant to go hoooooome.

Yes, No.

I loooove you.

I-love-you-too.

20 Minutes Pass out this worksheet. Students should read the song lyrics and answer the comprehension questions.

10 Minutes Read the song together. Students should listen and repeat each line. Note that the words are timed differently in order to create a steady rhythm. For instance, “mom and dad” and “you” should be said in the same amount of time.

20 Minutes Listen to the song four times. The first two times, just listen. The third time, students should quietly say the words while the song plays. The final time, everyone should sing along.

Extension: Have the students write an extra verse to the song.

Materials

Worksheet—Timing

Listen to these sentences. Answer the questions below.

 

–1–

A: How was the movie?

B: It was interesting.

Did B like the movie? YES NO

–2–

A: I want to go home.

Does A say “home” quickly or slowly?

Does A say “want” quickly or slowly?

–3–

A: I love you.

B: I love you too.

Does A love B?        YES     NO

Does B love A?        YES     NO

Read these sentences to your partner. Your partner should choose if you use short or long timing for the underlined words.

  1. I love football.
  2. Could you please call me on Saturday?
  3. She’s never worn those boots before.
  4. Tokyo was a…great city.
  5. Are we there yet?

Worksheet—Don Williams “I Believe”

Read the lyrics for the song “I Believe” by Don Williams

I don’t believe in superstars,
organic food and foreign cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
the certainty of growing old,
that right is right and left is wrong,
that north and south can’t get along,
that east is east and west is west,
and being first is always best. 

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in mom and dad.
And I believe in you.

Well, I don’t believe that heaven waits,
for only those who congregate.
I like to think of God as love:
He’s down below, He’s up above.
He’s watching people everywhere.
He knows who does and doesn’t care.
And I’m an ordinary man.
Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love.
I believe in music.
I believe in magic.
And I believe in you.

Well, I know with all my certainty,
what’s going on with you and me,
is a good thing.
It’s true, I believe in you. 

I don’t believe virginity
is as common as it used to be,
in working days and sleeping nights,
that black is black and white is white,
that Superman and Robin Hood
are still alive in Hollywood,
that gasoline’s in short supply,
the rising cost of getting by.

But I believe in love.
I believe in old folks.
I believe in children.
I believe in you.

I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in mom and dad.
And I believe in you.

Answer these questions about the song

“To believe” means to think it is true. In the song, Don Williams says “I don’t believe…” about many things. For example, “I don’t believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate.” Can you find more examples of things Don Williams doesn’t think are true. 

“To believe in” is different from “to believe”. Let’s look at the difference. To believe in means to (1) trust it or (2) think it’s a good idea or (3) have hope for its future.

Find an example of (1), (2), and (3).

(1)

(2)

(3)

What is organic food?

What does “I don’t believe [in] the certainty of growing old” mean?

“Right is right and left is wrong” is about politicians. Do you know of any “right” politicians? How about a “left” politician?

What does “Heaven waits for only those who congregate mean”?

a)    Only people who believe in God go to heaven

b)   Only people that go to church go to heaven

c)    Only some people go to heaven

Does he think there are more or fewer virgins these days? a) more b) fewer

Do you know who Superman is? How about Robin Hood?

What does “folks” mean?

a)    People

b)   Dogs

c)    Cars

Answer Key

“To believe” means to think it is true. In the song, Don Williams says “I don’t believe…” about many things. For example, “I don’t believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate.” Can you find more examples of things Don Williams doesn’t think are true. 

He doesn’t believe that we will certainly get old, that right is right, that left is wrong, that east is east and west is west and being first is always best, that heaven waits for only those who congregate, that virginity is as common as it used to be, that Superman and Robin Hood are still alive in Hollywood, or that gasoline’s in short supply.

“To believe in” is different from “to believe”. Let’s look at the difference. To believe in means to (1) trust it or (2) think it’s a good idea or (3) have hope for its future.

Find an example of (1), (2), and (3). Answers may be different, but for example.

(1) Mom and Dad

(2) Love

(3) Children

What is organic food? Food without chemicals added to it.

What does “I don’t believe [in] the certainty of growing old” mean? It means that we might die before we are old. (For example, maybe a bus will hit us.)

“Right is right and left is wrong” is about politicians. Do you know of any “right” politicians? How about a “left” politician? George Bush is “right”. Barack Obama is “left”.

What does “Heaven waits for only those who congregate mean”?

a)    Only people who believe in God go to heaven

b) Only people that go to church go to heaven

c)    Only some people go to heaven

Does he think there are more or fewer virgins these days? a) more b) fewer

Do you know who Superman is? How about Robin Hood? They are imaginary heroes.

What does “folks” mean?

a) People

b)   Dogs

c)    Cars

Unstressed

This lesson is part of a series of one-hour lessons that will help students improve their prosody skills. Prosody, in short, is word stress, timing, and intonation. For an introduction to the series, click here.

Name: Unstressed

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: It depends on how much you already know about word stress. You may have to learn a little more before starting.

Materials: This Worksheet

Primary Objective: Improve Word Stress Skills

Other Benefits: Become familiar with some money expressions

Plan:

5 Minutes Review what word stress is. Explain that today, instead of focusing the stressed words, you’re going to work on noticing the unstressed words.

15 Minutes Pass out this sheet. Read the full sentences from the answer sheet. Make sure to say the missing words with minimal stress. The students should try to write the missing words. Review the answers.

20 Minutes Put the students in groups and ask them to add to the list of commonly unstressed words. Ask them to try to make groups of similar words. Demonstrate by making a list of helper verbs (e.g. have, do, etc.) on the board.

Then, each student should come to the front of the class and write one commonly unstressed word on the board. Demonstrate the groups of words by circling the prepositions, underlining the helper verbs, and putting a square around the pronouns.

Write an example sentence on the board with one word from each group.

5 Minutes Have the students practice reading the sentences on the sheets in pairs.

15 Minutes Have the students write their own sentences. They should leave out or erase the unstressed words. Finally, they should read the sentences for their partner. The partner should try to fill in the missing words.

Extension Practice reading the sentences a final time, but use physical movements to reinforce the stressed/unstressed words. For instance, have everyone stand up. When there is a stressed word, they should jump. When there is an unstressed word, they should duck.

Notes: Just because a group of words is commonly unstressed, doesn’t mean they are always unstressed. Of course, lots of prepositions, pronouns, and helper verbs are stressed sometimes. This is all just a guideline.

Ideas for Homework: Students might watch a short clip of something and rewrite the transcript. They should underline the stressed words. (For example, they might watch a video like this, open the interactive transcript on the right and choose one paragraph for them to do).

Worksheet—Unstressed Words

These words are not usually stressed

Have Are Do Is
The A Lot Not
That It This In
For Of On At

Listen to your teacher read these sentences. Use the words above and other words to complete them.

 

1.  I __________ never saved __________  __________  __________  money.

2.  Don’t __________  think that __________  too expensive?

3.  How __________ __________ usually spend __________  money?

4.  This __________ __________  good price. You should think __________  getting __________.

5.  __________ __________ usually find __________  good deal?

6.  How much __________ __________ pay __________ __________ dress?

7.  Who handles __________  money __________ __________ family?

8.  He asked __________ __________  new loan, but they denied __________.

  1. A: __________ __________ want __________ go shopping?
  2. B: No, I can’t afford __________  buy __________  more clothes.

Answers

 

1.  I have never saved a lot of money.

2.  Don’t you think that is too expensive?

3.  How do you usually spend your money?

4.  This is a good price. You should think about getting it.

5.  Do you usually find a good deal?

6.  How much did you pay for that dress?

7.  Who handles the money in your family?

8.  He asked for a new loan, but they denied him.

  1. A: Do you want to go shopping?
  2. B: No, I can’t afford to buy any more clothes.

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