Level: intermediate to upper-intermediate.
Ages: teens to adults.
Type: discussion and language activities based around a Gavin & Stacey comedy clip.
Skills: speaking; listening; writing – note-taking. There are further activities for focussing on pronunciation and conversational fluency.
Language focus: personality adjectives; sentence-level grammar; general vocabulary consolidation.
copies of these paper-based materials (see below for how many copies you’ll need of each part);
a copy of this youtube video (you could download it with keepvid or a similar program, though I’m not entirely sure this is legal in every country!);
some blank paper (if you want to do the describe-and-draw follow-on activity, below);
some post-it notes or scraps of paper and blu-tack (if you want to do the fluency activity, below).
from the printable materials above, make:
- copies of the pictures of the 4 main characters, one copy per group of 3-4 students;
- copies of the expressions gapfill and answers, one per student;
- double-sided copies of the two “flip-fill” pages, one per pair of students, and copies of the transcript , one per student (if you want to focus on sentence-level grammar after the listening and speaking activities)
- Mime an action in a particular state of mind (e.g., going into your lounge and turning on the telly after a long day at work, winning a game of golf). Ask your students what you were doing and how you were feeling. Ask your students how much they think they can tell about a person from their body language and appearance.
- Hand out the pictures. Ask your students to look through them and think about and write notes about the people’s personalities, lifestyles, jobs and ages. What do they do? Do they lead a very active lifestyle? What adjectives could you use to describe their personalities? How old are they? (It might be a good idea to ban the words, “I don’t know” from their discussion before they begin).
- Whole-class feedback: divide the board into 4 vertical columns, headed Gavin, Smithy, Stacey, Nessa. Elicit and board personality adjectives (and perhaps idioms or set expressions) for each, helping your students extend their vocabulary along the way. Elicit and board possible jobs, ages, and lifestyle choices (how active are they? Do they sit at home and watch the telly? Are they gym bunnies? etc.).
- Check in pairs and then check with the class as a whole.
- Play the video below with the sound off. Ask your students to look at the characters’ body language and appearance and try to answer these questions.
- Ask your students to discuss their ideas in pairs.
- Get some ideas from the class, and also ask them what they think the four characters will sound like. Who do they think talks the quickest? Who has the highest-pitched voice? Who sounds the most relaxed?
- Divide your students into A B pairs. Say that you’ll watch the video this time with the sound on. Ask As to check their answers to the first set of questions (do the people all know each other? why are they meeting? what’s going to happen next?). Ask Bs to listen to the characters’ voices: how would they describe them? Which do they like best? Which is the easiest/most difficult to understand?
- Play the video, then put As in one group, and Bs in another. Ask them to share their ideas. Do they agree with each other? What do they disagree about? Open this out into a whole-class discussion.
- If your students like, you can watch the video again. This time, they could focus on the language: ask them to listen out for these words – “cardy”, … and to try and write down the expressions in which they occur. Again, ask your students to compare what they wrote or heard in pairs, before discussing the language as a class. What were the expressions? Were there any words or expressions they didn’t understand? When might they use these expressions in conversation?
– do these people all know each other?
– why are they meeting?
– what’s going to happen next?
There are many directions in which you could take the lesson at this point. Here are four ideas:
(a) Focus on vocabulary – describe and draw
There are a number of personality adjectives, etc. on the board. You could divide your students into A B pairs, give each B a piece of paper, and ask As to mentally picture their best friend or someone they really admire, then describe this person to B, who draws what they hear. Make sure As cannot see Bs’ paper. Set a time limit of about 4 or 5 minutes, then ask A and B to swap roles. Finally, ask them to compare their drawings and describe this person’s personality, or say why they like or admire them so much, using some of the personality adjectives on the board in their answers. Bs could then stand and move one pair to their left, and then tell each other what they remember about their former partner’s friend or admired person. You could monitor the language here for subsequent feedback.
(2) Focus on sentence-level grammar
This is based on an idea by Jason Renshaw.
- Divide your students into pairs and give out the double-sided “flip-fill” worksheets (see “materials”, above). On one side, most of the function words have been removed; on the other side, all the function words are there, but many of the content words have been removed. Hand out the worksheets with the gaps-for-function-words side on top, facing the students.
- Set a time limit of about 5 minutes and ask your students to use their memories and knowledge of English to put the missing words back in, explaining that these are almost all “grammar” words (articles, prepositions, conjunctions, …). Ask them to guess if they’re not sure.
- After about 5 minutes, ask them to turn their sheets over.
- Elicit that, this time, the “grammar” words are all there and many of the content words (nouns, adjectives, verbs, some adverbs) are missing. Ask your students to check the grammar words and, using their memories and knowledge of English, fill in the missing words on this side of the paper. This time, set a time limit of about 4 minutes.
- Finally, either repeat this activity, this time with a time limit of 3 minutes (for the grammar words) and 2 1/2 minutes (for the content words), or allow your students to flip the sides at will to check their answers and complete the gaps. If you like, you can give them the complete text at the end.
(3) Focussing on speaking fluency
- Return to your students’ ideas about why Gavin, Stacey, Smithy and Nessa are meeting. Elicit “blind date” and “double date”.
- Dictate these questions: have you ever been on a blind date, or would you ever go on one? What about a double date with a friend?
- After a few minutes, ask your students for their views (getting content feedback).
- Either move onto language feedback from your notes, or elicit a couple of questions your students might ask people they’ve just met to find out more about them (e.g., “what’s your favourite meal?”, “who in the world would you most like to have dinner with?”).
- Ask your students to work in small groups, given out some blank paper or post-it notes to each group, and ask them to think of and write some more questions they could ask. Set a time limit (say, 8 minutes) and monitor this activity, helping with question forms and vocabulary.
- Ask each group to stick their questions on the classroom walls, or leave their sheet of paper on the desk in front of them. Ask them to walk around the room, looking at the questions and checking for vocabulary and grammar mistakes. They can write their corrections; and if they’re not sure of something, they can check with each other and, if necessary, ask you. Again, monitor this activity, helping with language.
- Divide the class into new small groups. Ask them to walk around the room again, this time using the questions to start conversations with each other. Point out that they will be practicing speaking for fluency with this activity, and elicit that they should try to give longer answers, and that listeners can ask other questions (which are not written down) to get more information.
- Monitor the language as your students do this activity for subsequent feedback and correction.
Check to make sure your students have written the same questions (you could elicit and board them), then divide your students into pairs or small groups, asking them to discuss these two questions, giving reasons for their answers. You can monitor for language at this point.
- Divide your students into pairs. Ask them to imagine it’s a week later. Two of the characters are meeting in a cafe. Ask your students to decide which two characters are meeting and ask them to devise and write a short dialogue, talking about their date the week before.
- As your students write, you can monitor and help with language as necessary.
- When your students have finished, ask them to practice their role-plays. Monitor and help with pronunciation here: how are they feeling at each point in the dialogue? How can they show this through body language and intonation?
- If you have a confident and settled class, you might ask each group to perform their role-play, while the other students listen and note down things they liked about it (perhaps the language, or the humour, or the way the performers expressed their feelings) and things they thought could be better (were there any parts which were difficult to understand, for example?). After all the groups have performed, you can lead class feedback (perhaps you can focus on aspects of pronunciation, such as differentiating individual sounds and sentence stress), inviting the different groups to share their thoughts too.
- If your group are not so confident, you can ask them to continue practising, while inviting different groups to walk around the class and note down things they liked and things they thought could be improved in the dialogues they see and hear. You could then lead class feedback as above.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Talia Lash, whose idea it was to do a lesson based on this video, and who first got me into Gavin and Stacey.