I would first like to start by saying I am in no way endorsing any of these companies. To be honest, I rarely watch TV and don’t particularly like TV commercials. However, I do think they can useful tools for our learners. These days many of the commercials are barely related to what the company offers. Also, as I teach in Japan, most of these companies don’t have stores here and their products are not available to my learners, so I don’t have any concerns about showing them in class. I also ask my students not to think about the products but the overall meaning of the video.
The first video is by a company called Allegro. I had never heard of this company but came across this commercial recently. It shows an elderly man deciding to and continuing learning English. Only at the end of the video does the viewer discover why. I’ll let you watch it yourself to find out. I will be using this in class this week. I plan on using it as part of a warm up activity. My plan is to first show the video and then have students talk about what happened in the video and finally get them to discuss the following questions with a partner:
When did you first start learning English?
Why did you decide to study English?
What are your reasons for learning English?
What are some of the benefits of learning English?
Please feel free to use or amend any of these discussion questions if you decide to use this video.
The second is Amazon’s commercial which features a Muslim Imam and a Christian Priest meeting for a chat and a cup of tea. Both of the friends realize that the other has an ailment and uses Amazon to help them out. Again I intend to use this video to prompt a discussion. I intend to begin by playing the video and then ask the class to summarize what happened. I will then ask them to discuss their opinions of the video and its message. Finally, I will give the discussion questions below.
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘religion’?
Are you or your family religious?
What does religion mean to you?
Is religion always a good thing?
With all the religions in the world, how do we know which one is best or true?
The next is a seasonal commercial by John Lewis. It’s quite a funny one and I think my learners will enjoy it. Most Japanese don’t celebrate the religious part of Christmas but they certainly do celebrate the time of year. I intend showing this to allow them to talk about what Christmas means to them. Again, after asking them to summarize the video, I will pose the following questions for them to discuss with a partner.
Did you believe in Santa Claus when you were a child?
Did you enjoy last Christmas?
How did you celebrate Christmas last year?
How do people usually celebrate Christmas in your country?
Do you decorate your house for Christmas?
Do you have a part-time job during the winter vacation?
Do you have any plans to go to a Christmas party?