Lighthearted Moments

Yes, it is an ad for scotch whiskey, but you could easily stop the video before that becomes apparent. This is not so much a laugh as a smile that moves straight to the heart. 


Bells "The Reader" directed by Greg Gray from Velocity on Vimeo.

The subtitles on An and Ria's First Flight make this video very manageable for intermediate learners, but with a little pre-viewing & pre-listening work--this video would work at any level. The video could be used in hundreds of ways.




A classic type of conversation that crosses cultures. The narrator speaks quickly, but the repetition is helpful. You can have learners hold up a "fish card" everytime they hear the phrase, "I don't like fish."




Try this listening and prediction activity on your own and then try it with your learners.



This 2006 Norwegian commercial for Berlitz still makes me giggle even though it's been making the rounds for many years now...


Fred and Fiona, two up and coming ESL bloggers, are very competitive. They meet up at TESOL

Fiona:  So, Fred. Is your new blog doing well?
Fred:    Why yes Fiona, it definitely is. Since we last saw each other, the number of hits has doubled.
Fiona:  Wow! Congratulations, Fred. You didn't tell me that you got married!

(Adapted from a joke on


Made You Laugh!

Steve Hatherly's article on the ESL Teachers' Board about party games that engender laughter made me want to share the ESL version of the Bonjour Madame! card game: a great way to get groups to bond and laugh together.  Each group of 4-6 learners gets a pack of playing cards. One person is assigned the role of "card dealer and referee." The "Dealer" holds the deck of cards and flips one card over at a time putting it down on in the center of the table. S/he should flip at a steady pace.  Each time s/he flips a certain card over,  everyone else in the group has to say or do something associated with that card. If everyone says the phrase or does the action at the exact same time, the flipper continues. If one person in the group is the last one to say the phrase or do the action, s/he takes the cards that are on the table. (The referee is the arbiter in cases where they may be a question of who was last.)

Once all the cards have been flipped, the "Dealer" collects the cards from the table. Shuffles them and starts again. The person who has the fewest cards when time is called is the winner.  For the standard game, the Queen is "Bonjour Madame," the King is "Bonjour Monsieur," etc. Here's how you can alter it for ESL. 

King- Say, "Good morning, sir."
Queen - Say, "How may I help you?"
Jack- Wave and say, " Hi there!"
- Hold up your index finger and say, "They're three for a dollar."
Sevens - Stand up and shout, "I feel lucky!" 

I put this key up on the board for a trial round and may leave it up depending on the level of the class. Also you can adjust the language depending on the theme of the lesson.

**NOTE** This works with native and non-native speakers alike!




The article below is the humor piece from a website devoted to "plain language" in US government docs

(The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees from many different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing.
They develop and maintain the content of this site.)


Nine Easy Steps to Longer Sentences by Kathy McGinty

Are you tired of short, direct, and simple sentences that seem to take forever to fill up a page? Are you paid by the word? In either case you can benefit by increasing the number of words in your sentences and the bulk of your writing. And it's easy if you just follow nine simple steps, many of which you may already know and practice.

To show how easily you can apply these steps, I'll start with the following ludicrously short and simple sentence and increase its verbiage step by step.

              More night jobs would keep youths off the streets.

Step 1: Begin to lengthen your statement by referring to studies, even if you're not aware of any studies. After all, who really cares? And if anyone challenges you, you can protect yourself by weaseling (see Step 5).       

             Studies have shown that more night jobs would keep youths off the streets.











And even though you were probably one of the 87,000 people who saw this in 2010, it's simply too special not to bring back.  

"We are the world. We are the linguists. We are the ones who make a brighter day by making theories."




Who says intonation isn't everything?