If you follow my YouTube videos, you’ll know that a cool car was the topic of my last lesson on American Slang. (Secret: I based the dialog on my knowledge of the Acura MDX.) The video lends itself to work with vocabulary (Part 1) and pronunciation (Part 2). I offer a follow-up a vocabulary exercise and a listening activity with fast speech on EnglishCafe.com to supplement the videos. If the lesson is shared in the classroom, I think the next logical step would be group discussion. In the video there are two proposed discussion questions that directly relate to the dialog, and they could easily lead into a more academic talk about the future of cars and the debate over whether the world can sustain the growing number of cars on the roads.
Check out the talk by Larry Burns of General Motors on TED.com. (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.) I learned about this site from my EVO session’s database. TED has many videos on thought-provoking topics. Though some are rather lengthy for classroom use, you could always select an excerpt and reserve the entire video for independent study. The site offers a transcript and subtitles in different languages for each talk, giving additional options for viewing.
Getting back to the Larry Burn’s talk on the future of cars, here are some questions to pose to your advanced learners. Have them read the questions and then watch the first 1:30 of the talk.
- According to Larry, what does a car represent to people? Why do people want to own cars?
- According to Larry, how many people in the world own cars? Is that number high or low in relation to the world population?
- According to Larry, how do cars today differ from cars 100 years ago?
If you choose to make more use of the video, students will listen to discussion on the use of hydrogen as car fuel. I’d recommend leaving that subtopic for another time, and focus instead on eliciting students’ opinions on Larry’s opening remarks. End your use of the video after 1:30 (approx.) and direct conversation toward expressing personal views on the use, ownership, and design of cars.