Dancing: a video-based vocabulary lesson

Today I have a video-based lesson inspired by some of the ideas Luiz Otávio Barros put forward in his Richmond share blog. A particular point I agree with in Luiz Otávio’s post is that teachers should include a language/grammar component when using videos in class. If you don’t, you run the risk of having students tell you they didn’t “learn” anything from the video.

Some years ago, when I first came across Claudio Azevedo’s blog, I often used videos with grammar in mind. More recently, though, I have focused my attention on lexis.

This lesson is based on a snippet of the Big Bang Theory in which Sheldon and the ladies go dancing. The main focus is vocabulary, but there are opportunities for working on connected speech through the use of a tapescript. Start by asking students to discuss the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how good a dancer are you?
  • Do you like going to parties where people dance? Why (not)?
  • Can people be good dancers if they haven’t had dance lessons? Why (not)?
  • What type of music is the best to dance to? Why?

After getting students’ opinions, tell them they’re going to watch a snippet of The Big Bang Theory. At this point it’s worth checking whether students know the characters’ names. I usually like to have a picture of the characters and go over who is who.

The while-watching questions are:

  • Why does Sheldon agree to participate in the girls’ night out?
  • How do the girls convince Sheldon to go Dancing?
  • Is he good at dancing? Why?

If you’d like to work with connected speech, I suggest using the tapescript below, which is in .doc format so you can adapt it freely. What I like to do is leave one gap for each word that is pronounced together, to draw students’ attention to the connected speech.

So, for instance, a sentence like ‘But you’re welcome to tag along.’ would appear in the script as ‘But you’re welcome to _______  _______.’

The Big Bang Theory S04E21 (tapescript)

The words and expressions below are the ones I chose to work with (they also appear in bold in the script).

You’re welcome to tag along.

OK, suit yourself. Shotgun! (This is an expression that, in my opinion, can lead to an interesting cultural discussion)

He’s harshing my buzz.

In the interest of full disclosure I once …

No, thank you, but for the record I’m an axcellent dancer

I excel at so many things.

Against my will. In the South …

After discussing the meaning of these with students, I get them to anser questions using the target language in pairs or trios. These are the questions I sued with a group of 15 to 17-year-olds:

  • Do you think it’s OK if your younger siblings tag along when you go to the mall with your friends?
  • Did you and your siblings fight to ride shotgun at your parents’ car?
  • Have you got any friends who always harsh your buzz?
  • What kinds of things do you excel at? (e.g. Maths, playing football, etc)
  • Can you think of anything your parents have forced you to do against your will? (e.g. study English, go to a boring party, etc)

Thanks for reading.

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