Awkwardness: a video-based listening lesson

This lesson is based on a recent post in which I discussed seven ways to get maximum mileage out of video-based listening activities. Before you go any further, please take five minutes to read the original article.

The lesson is suitable for both teenagers and adults at B1 / B2. Feel free to use it as you see fit. By the way, the activities have never been formally tested, so any feedback is most appreciated. Have fun!

Lesson begins here. Feel free to copy/paste.

A   Answer 1-3 with a partner.

1   Who are the people in the photo?
2   What do you know about them?
3   What do you think they might be talking about?

video listening activities


B   Watch a segment from the TV show in the photo and answer 1 and 2. Use video 1 (scroll down to the bottom of the post).  

1   How do they know each other?
[  ] They used to date.                     [  ] They went on a blind date once.

2   Who was interested in whom?
[  ] She was interested in him.      [  ] He was interested in her.

C   Watch a few selected excerpts from the video. Mark 1-5 T (true) or F (false). Use video 2.

1. Nicole Kidman and Jimmy Fallon are often in touch with each other. ___
2. Rick, their mutual friend, lied to both of them. ___
3. Jimmy made a good first impression. ___
4. It took Nicole a while to realize he wasn’t interested in her. ___
5. Jimmy wishes he’d married Nicole. ___

D   Play video 3 up to 0:33 and read about the weak pronunciation of non-content words. Then watch four excerpts from the show and write down exactly what you hear.

1   Do you remember this? __________ really ____________________.
2   I don’t know. Just get ____________________________ something.
3   Jimmy _________________ you and __________________ over __________________ and…
4   Unbelievable! ____________________________ awkward moments ever.

E   Discuss 1-4 in groups. Any surprises?

1   How would you have felt in his/her shoes?
2   Have you ever played cupid with your friends? What happened?
3   Would you have the courage to go on a blind date? Why?
4   Complete the sentence:  “I think being married to (celebrity) would be hell on earth because ___.”

F   Watch video 4 and notice how Jimmy Fallon reports his phone conversation with this friend. Answer 1 and 2.

1   Which words / expressions does he use besides “say”?
2   Which verb tense does he use?

G   Watch video 5 to check.


Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 4:

Video 5:


A. Nicole Kidman (famous movie star, formerly married to Tom Cruise) and Jimmy Fallon (NBC talk show host who took over from Jay Leno in 2009).
B. 1 – They went on a blind date. / 2 – She was interested in him.
C. 1. F / 2. T / 3. F / 4. T / 5. F (script appears on the screen so students can check)
D. Answers on the screen.
F. Answers in video 5. Remind students that the use of “go” and “be like” is informal.

5 thoughts on “Awkwardness: a video-based listening lesson”

  1. Thanks Luiz! A great interview and I homed in on the ‘reported speech’ section for my students and found this great video with subtitles where Jimmy Fallon is remembering the interview on the Ellen Generes show

    1. Luiz Otávio says:

      Thank you, Chris, and thanks for the other interview too.

  2. Leandro Zuanazzi says:

    Hi there, Luiz!
    As promised, I’m here to tell you that I used your activities in a conversation-driven lesson last week and I can safely say that the students left the class with something to describe at the dinner table (or tweet about). Firstly, the idea of going beyond gist listening tasks has proved to make a huge difference, especially because a couple of students had already watched the interview and yet were just as motivated to discuss and use the new pieces of language – probably because they had watched the video just for a laugh, as opposed to using it as a means of studying. Secondly, I felt that both stronger and weaker learners benefit a lot from focusing on connected speech. Stronger students clearly see how they can push themselves in order to improve their speaking skills – which can be quite hard for more advanced students since they cannot seem to notice much difference in their English once they reach an upper-intermediate level, right? Weaker students also profit because they can use that to improve their listening skills – they’re like: ‘oh, that’s why it’s so difficult to understand what the say!’. Finally, I guess it goes without saying that students enjoy seeing in class what they already know from films, songs and tv series – phrases such as ‘go on a blind date’, ‘living hell’, and ‘be like’.
    I do have a question, though. I wonder if you think students would benefit from a task in which they should use the Present Simple and ‘be like’/’go’ to tell a story or report a conversation they had.
    Thanks again for sharing your ideas.
    Um abraço,

    1. Luiz Otávio says:

      Hi Leandro,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful, thorough feedback.
      You made an important point: Watching a video for a laugh vs. Squeezing a video dry. It’s important that we devise class activities that help students do the latter, especially because students will have previously watched a lot of the materials we choose to use in class.
      Now, would I devise a task to help students actively experiment with be like / go when telling a story? Yes, absolutely, but it would depend on the students’ level / level of development. With lower level students I think I would prioritize more “common core” structures / lexis first. Because I can’t really predict who these activities are going to be used with once they’re “out there”, I chose not to include a speaking task. But that’s really the only reason why.
      Um abraço

      1. Good to know, Luiz. Thanks! Looking forward to sharing more experiences soon.
        Um abraço

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