The Tipping Point

Hello again everyone and we apologise for our prolonged absence! We hit the ground running in mid-September but we’re finally on top of things and are resuming normal service. In fact, our first post of the new academic year has shades of irony, given that the subject is tipping – something generally associated with good service! On introducing this topic in class, we discovered that not only is it quite contentious but that it’s also much misunderstood in terms of who actually gets the money and why. There are also huge variations between countries and cultures. Among other things, we’re using a video from the excellent Videojug site – a great source of inspiration for videos for class. We hope you enjoy it and that it gives you food for thought the next time you get the bill in a restaurant…..

Click here for the Teacher’s Notes.


Steve Jobs at Stanford

After a long summer break and a very busy start to the new term, we’re back to update our neglected blog with a lesson based on Steve Job’s 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University.

In the speech, he told three stories about his life – stories which were quite personal, very revealing and extremely motivational –  and the speech went on to be a huge success on YouTube. Since his death on 5 October 2011, extracts from the speech have been widely quoted in the media. The text is reproduced in full here .

We decided to use this speech both as a listening exercise, to start with, but more importantly as a good example of public discourse in terms of chunking, rhythm, stress, and rhetorical techniques.

Steve Jobs Teacher’s Notes

Steve Jobs at Stanford

Steve Jobs Chunking

Steve Jobs Student AB


| ˈaɪ ˈʃʊdə nəʊn ˈbetə |

This song has long been a guilty pleasure, and one that I feel I can admit to now that a reasonable amount of time (27 years!!)  has gone by. I originally just thought of using it for the nice chunks of colloquial language it contains, but then realised I could exploit it for  pronunciation purposes. Specifically, for those  “shoulda, coulda, woulda” phrases that students often have such difficulty saying quickly and convincingly. But of course it would also be a crime to use this song and not discuss the hilariously sartorially-suspect low-budget video……

There are two versions of the worksheet. This one uses translation from L1 to L2 in the first activity, in this case Spanish to English:

I shoulda known better Teacher’s notes L1 version

I shoulda known better Student Worksheet L1

And this is the English-only version:

I shoulda known better Teacher’s notes L2 version

I shoulda known better Student Worksheet L2


Graffiti Safety First

This video sequence, which rapidly went viral, is a brilliantly conceived idea with a strong emotional impact. It’s perfect for eliciting language – both to describe what’s happening and how it makes us feel. It was part of a road safety campaign which also involved graffiti artists, so this lesson plan uses both topics and combines art, article and advert.

Graffiti Safety First Teacher’s notes

Banksy Images

Roa Images

newspaper article

Embrace Life Image


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