Video 02 : Love Dilemnas
This post might have arrived a little late to use for this year’s Saint Valentine’s Day. Never mind! Keep it in mind for next year, or try and fit it into your course when the topic of love and relationships next crops up. The lesson is based around a beautifully-shot silent movie called The Note. The star of the video is a note which insists on finding romantic matches for whoever picks it up, rewriting itself according to the circumstances. Students watch and retell the story, then do a pairwork speaking activity using the second conditional.
The Video : The Note
Step One : Pre-teaching vocabulary
- Students pre-teach each other some of the words that they will need to narrate the story of the video. It doesn’t matter if they already know some of these words, it is a valid fluency activity in itself.
- Put your students in pairs and give one word list (A or B) to each student.
- Ask them to define their words to each other until they know what they are. They can do this anyway they wish, but encourage them to use relative clauses and give meaningful contexts. I usually give them an example first.
Table : This is a noun. It’s a piece of furniture that can be found in a dining room or a living room. You might have one in your bedroom too. It has a flat surface which is usually round, square or rectangular. It normally has four legs, sometimes it has three, but it never has two. If it had two it would fall over … I won’t go on, I’m sure you’ve got the idea!
- If a student successfully identifies a word but doesn’t know how to say it in English they can say the word in their native language. The most important thing here is that the students are able to convey meaning.
Step Two : Retelling the video
- Ask your students the following question (If they answer “it would depend”, ask them to explain exactly what it would depend on.)
“What would you do if you were waiting for a train and the person standing next to you dropped a piece of paper which said ‘I love you’?”
- Now, tell them that they are going to watch a video of a similar situation.
- Ask Student Bs to close their eyes or look out of the window while Student As watch the first half of the video.
- Stop the video at the half-way point – 1.50 (1 minute 50 seconds). This is when the young man gets on the train and sits down, but just before he has another look at the note.
- Ask Student Bs to narrate what they have seen to their partners. Tell them to use the present tense, which adds greater immediacy and sounds more conversational.
- Now, let Student Bs watch the rest of the video and explain it to their partners.
- Finally, ask the class for their reactions to the video.
Step Three : Second conditional questions
- Refer back to the question at the beginning of Step Two and focus on the use of the second conditional to illustrate hypothetical or improbable present/future situations. Give any explanations and/or practice that you might feel appropriate. You know best what to do with your students!
- In the same pairs (A + B) as before, get your students to ask each other the questions in the worksheet below. Before doing this, I normally explain that we can use they, them and their with a singular meaning in order to avoid specifying the sex of a person. This normally anticipates questions from students who haven’t seen this strange grammatical workaround before. You may also like to point out the position of adverbs such as probably in conditional sentences; I would probably try to … / I probably wouldn’t speak …
Note : Have a careful look at the video and questions before using this lesson in class. There will be certain teaching contexts in which you may feel that the topic of love (and homosexuality, referred to at the end of the video) may not be very appropriate. You know where you are, and who you’re teaching!