Level: intermediate to advanced
Primary goal: build vocab
Secondary goals: reading, listening, prosody (word stress, timing, intonation)
Time: Adaptable (max of 2 hours in-class, 3-6 hours of homework)
How it works
Each resource has three lessons and three homework assignments.
Before the first class, the student takes a vocabulary quiz based on a resource. This is nothing too complicated–just a Google document where they mark how well they know each word.
Then, in the first lesson, I ask them questions to prep the vocabulary in the video. I use their answers in the vocabulary quiz to choose which vocabulary to focus on.
AFTER taking the pre-vocab quiz and prepping the vocab, I tell them which video to watch (or article to read). They watch/read for homework. I also send them main idea, detail, logic, and inference questions. If it’s a video, they also get prosody (word stress, timing, intonation) questions. They should prepare answers.
In the second lesson, we review the questions. I also help them with anything they had troubles with. We might review some grammar or speaking skills.
Next, we usually take a week or two off. (The lessons continue, but we do a different topic.)
After the break, we return to the article/video. I’ll give them one more assignment and we review it in the third lesson.
Note on Google Docs: I made the folder public on the web. You can copy/paste it to edit it to suit your needs. I think that’s easier, but let me know if you’d like a PDF version:)
(1) To point out: To show a specific thing
I should point out that you need to file this with the other CVs.
(2) Timing: The speed we use when we say something. Also how long we wait between sounds.
Careful timing can make your listeners notice some words more.
(3) Stress: Emphasizing a word by making it louder and longer.
You should stress the important words and say the unimportant words quickly.
1. In the first example, why does she have three big pauses?
a. To add melody to her speech
b. She’s nervous
c. To make you listen carefully
2. What’s the difference between “I had some rice.” and “I did have some rice”?
a. In the first, we don’t know anything for sure
b. The first strengthens the idea because there’s no did
c. The second strengthens the idea because of did
3. Why does she say some words slowly and some words quickly?
a. To stress some words (the important words)
b. She’s nervous
c. To add melody to her speech
By Jeremy Schaar
When listening to a video, you might notice a new word. You might write down the word and then try using it later. After you use it a few times, you remember it and then you know that word. That’s a great way to learn vocabulary. But, if you want to listen better, you need to do a little more. You need to notice how people speak and try to learn those things, just like you learn vocabulary.
I’ve covered this great video by Nilofer Merchant before. But today, I’d like to point out five sentences she says. You should note how she says them and try to repeat speak in the same way.
“What you’re doing, right now, at this very moment, is killing you.”
Note her timing. There’s a big pause with each comma. She does this to make people listen carefully.
“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent, we don’t even question how much we’re doing it.”
Note how quickly she says “we don’t even”. She says “wedoneven”. You should say it the same. (You can’t really hear the “t” sound at all.) As long as you stress question, people will understand you.
“What did get me moving, was a social interaction.”
Note how much she emphasizes the word “did”. She could have just said “What got me…”, but using a strong did gives the sentence strength.
Also note how she emphasizes the word “social” because it’s the most important word in the sentence.
“Could you come then?”
Note how she says “kudjuh” instead of “could you”. Then both “come” and “then” are stressed equally.
“First there’s this amazing thing about actually getting out of the box, that leads to out-of-the-box-thinking.”
Note how she says some words quickly (“there’s this”) and other words slowly (“out of the box”) to focus our attention on the important words. Words that don’t give any meaning are said quickly.
(1) To brainstorm: This means to try to think of ideas.
The plastic bottles keep cracking. I’m not sure why, but let’s have a meeting and brainstorm solutions.
(2) To test at the limits: To check something in extreme situations.
Let’s test this at the limits. What if we increased production by 1000%?
(3) Labor: This just means work
The labor cost will be higher in California, but the shipping costs will be much less.
1. What does it mean to test ideas at the limits?
a. To check them at zero
b. To check them at infinity
c. To check them at zero and infinity
2. How will he get free labor?
a. He’ll use robots
b. He’ll use slaves
c. He’ll get infinite employees
3. What happens when you let things start talking to each other?
a. Work emerges
b. Logistics are harder
c. Systems get stronger
By Jeremy Schaar
This week, you’ll learn some vocabulary and ideas you can use on the job. You’ll learn how to effectively brainstorm and you’ll see the results of one man’s brainstorming.
We’re continuing to look at a video by Mick Mountz. (See above.) In total, this is a 12 minute video. In it, he explains how companies can quickly organize complicated orders and ship them to the customer. This week, I’ll be talking about the video from 4:00 to 6:20. If you haven’t seen the other lessons, you might want to check them first.
This section of the video starts with him thinking about building a warehouse in China and testing his ideas at the limits: infinity and zero.
This is a great suggestion that you can use at work. To test an idea at its limits means to think about crazy possibilities. What if everything was free? What if you had unlimited resources.
If I was building a hospital, I might think of infinite doctors, money, and medicine. How would I build a hospital with infinite resources? You should also think about zero. How would I build a hospital with no doctors or money? You won’t find your ultimate solution with this method, but it can result in good ideas. Think about how might you use it at your work.
In his situation, he’s thinking about building a factory in China. He wonders what it would be like if employees were unlimited and they all worked for free. In that case, he would ask the employees to hold an item and wait to get called.
In the real solution, he’ll use robots so that he can have free labor.
He also says this idea is like at the Beijing Olympics when all the performers are talking with each other. They don’t need a big director because they get information from other performers. He says: “It speaks to the power of emergence within systems–when you let things start to talk with each other.”
This just means that things get better with more communication.
He ends by saying that the “journey” part of his talk is ended. Next week, we’ll get to see the practical result. What actually happens in his factory? How does it work? Of course you can watch it by yourself. But I’ll explain next week.
(1) Tush, Tushie, Duff: Butt
Stop sitting on your tush. Get up and do something.
(2) Prevalent: Common, everywhere
Smoking was prevalent in the ‘50s, but these days, not so many people smoke.
(3) To huff and puff: To breath heavily
I was huffing and puffing while I went for a run.
1. What does it mean “to not question something?”
a. To not bother it
b. To not think about whether it’s bad
c. To not worry about it
2. A social interaction got her walking. What’s a social interaction?
a. Something with another person
b. Something with exercise
c. Something unhealthy
3. What was her solution for the problem of choosing health or work obligations?
a. She thought outside the box.
b. She started walking while she worked.
c. She became more creative.
By Jeremy Schaar
Nilofer Merchant says “Sitting has become the smoking of our generation.” Scary, but she has a great idea. She says: Got a meeting? Take a walk. Today, I’m going to help you understand her video.
Before I can help you , you’ll need to actually watch the video (see above).
Also, here’s a link that shows you the best way to watch videos.
Today’s video has three parts.
Part 1 is Sitting Is Bad For You. This is from the start to 1:22.
Part 2 is How Her Idea Began. It’s from 1:22 until 2:02.
Part 3 is What She’s Learned. That’s from 2:02 until the end.
So, in Part 1 she explains that people sit too much–usually 9.3 hours a day–and that sitting too much causes health problems like cancer and diabetes. She says that sitting is so prevalent that we don’t even question it. To not even question something is a phrase we use sometimes. We use it to refer to bad stuff that most people don’t think is bad.
Unfortunately, scary statistics don’t cause us to change. In Part 2, she explains a social interaction finally changed her. Basically, a friend asked her to walk during a meeting. She made the idea her own and now she walks 20-30 miles (that’s 30-50 kilometers) every week.
In Part 3, she explains what she learned.
1. Going out of the box leads to out-of-the box thinking. (This just means walking made her more creative.)
2. She found a solution for how to exercise while meeting her obligations. So it’s also possible to find other tough solutions.
In the end, this is a simple, but very attractive idea. Sitting too much is bad for us, so why not get off your tush and start walking?
(1) Cost Effective: This means that the price of doing something is good.
(2) To pick and pack: To get an item and put it in a container.
Factories in countries like China are usually more cost effective because the pick and pack workers work for low wages.
(3) Tote: A plastic container.
We used plastic totes instead of cardboard boxes when we moved to a new house. They were much stronger.
1. Where did Mick work before?
2. What problem nags at him?
a. How to cost effectively pick and pack various items
b. How to send a can of soup for less than $1.00
c. Shipping stuff out of a warehouse
3. What solution does he imagine?
a. An item magically appears
b. A company-centric solution
c. Both A and B
By Jeremy Schaar
What I need is a system where I put out my hand and “poof!” a product shows up. -Mick Mountz
Sounds pretty good right? Products magically appearing. In this week’s lesson, we’ll look at why Mick Mountz wants products to magically appear. We’ll see the problem he’s trying to solve. You’ll learn some vocabulary you can use to describe shipping problems and you’ll improve your supply chain listening skills.
In this week’s section of the video, he explains a little more about his personal history. He got his start at a company called Webvan. Webvan wanted to deliver groceries to people. However, the company failed. At 2:10, He says:
We couldn’t do it cost effectively. It turns out ecommerce fulfillment is very hard and very costly. We had an $.89 can of soup that was costing us $1.00 to pick and pack into that tote.
So Webvan failed because it wasn’t cost effective.
But the problem stayed with him after he quit. He noodled on it. (Which means he thought about it.) And it nagged on him. (Which means it bothered him.) Material handling providers just didn’t have a solution. They took pallets and cases of goo and shipped them out. The pallets and cases had many of the same product instead of having many different products like you would need for a grocery store order.
What he wanted was an operator-centric approach to the problem. He wanted to help the workers become very productive. He imagines a system where products magically appear and the pick-pack worker can just put them into a tote.
Next time, we’ll see some more about how he thought about the problem.
For today’s lesson, I also created a quiz on TedEd. That’s a great website for studying online videos. Check it out here.