Video: Clarifying information

(A2), B1, B2, C1

In the BBC game show "Would I Lie to You', celebrities have to read out a sentence about themselves  on a card. Sometimes this sentence is true, sometimes false. The other panellists  then have to  ask questions about the story behind the sentences and decide if the person is telling the truth or not. In this video you will hear Rhod Gilbert talking about this story:

"A mistake I made in France meant that someone in England got hospitalised"

First you will watch the video to understand the main points of the story, then complete some missing words from the questions asked by the panellists. Finally, you will do an exercise to practise other questions to check or clarify information. Video time: 4 mins 28 secs  Activity time 30 - 45 minutes.


1   Watch the video the first time and find out

-  who the person in England was
-  why Rhod was in France
-  why the person in England got hospitalized

Listen again and complete the questions

_____________ you  _____________  learnt to read?
_____________ the mistake you made in the French language?
What _____________ the nature of this mistake?
What _____________ you _____________ in France?
What colour hair _____________ she _____________?
Can you _____________ us _____________ the incident?
Why _____________ they ask you to do that?
What was the relationship between Anne and the person ____________ had ____________ you to talk?
How _____________ you know _____________?
What _____________ next?
So she _____________  _____________ how to speak to the family?
What did you _____________ wrong? What did you _____________ wrong?
What does that _____________?
And that’s a mistake, _____________ ?
What happened?  _____________ they then rush her to this hospital?

3 Do the exercise on checking and clarifying

The video is here.
Exercise 3 is here.
The answers are at the bottom of the page.
If you would like a pdf version of Exercises 1 and 2, click here.

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Grammar: the basic tenses and you

(A2), B1, B2, (C1)

How many times have you learnt how to use the different tenses in English, only to forget how to use them a few weeks later?  One way to remember them is to memorize one key sentence about yourself for each of the main tenses.  

That is what you will do in this activity. But first you are going to do an exercise to revise some of the basic tenses. You will also review the corresponding question forms. Activity time: 25 to 45 minutes


1  Go to the revision activity. Complete the example sentences. Each section ends with a question. Write down an answer to each question. The revision activity is here.

2  Now use these ideas to note down some key sentences about yourself .

     I work.... 
     I lived....from....to....  
     I studied.... for....
     I'm working.....   
     I'm.... next week
     I was living....when....
     I've.... for....
     I've.... since....
     I've never....
     I've just.... 
     I probably won't....

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Video: the sharing economy

(A2), B1, B2, (C1)

Today you can rent a room for the night in a stranger's house, pay for a seat in somebody's car, or borrow a tool from someone living near you in exchange for a small rental charge. These are all examples of the "sharing economy". In this short video, you will learn how the sharing economy is changing the way we consume products and services. Video time: 2 minutes 48 seconds. Activity time: 25 to 50 minutes


1 Before watching, think about these questions:
  • In what areas of business do we find examples of the sharing economy?
  • What is the public response to the sharing economy?
  • What are its benefits or advantages? 
  • What are the issues or disadvantages?
  • What should traditional companies do when faced with this new competition?

2  Now watch the video above and make notes on the questions in 1

3  Match the words on the left with those on the right. Watch the video again to check.

4   Now match the word combinations in 3 with these sentences 

a   After the big storm, 100,000 homes are without electricity.
b   Their sales have doubled in the last year.
c   Half their offices are empty.
d   They make their money from advertising.
e   It's cheaper to rent a room in a house than in a hotel.
f   Our local shop is a lot nearer than the supermarket.
g  People are worried, but there's no easy solution.
h  Their products aren't always in good condition.
i   People generally shop at the end of the month.
j   We bought our house but the running costs are very high.  

 The answers are below

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Video: Passive houses

(A2), B1, B2, (C1) 

The design of modern buildings focuses on reducing energy consumption as much as possible. A passive house is a building that  uses little or no extra energy for heating in the winter or cooling in the summer. This short video talks about the principles of passive house construction. You will practise talking about key ideas and learn some specific vocabulary related to modern house construction. Finally, you will practise reading the text aloud.  Video time: 90 seconds  Activity time: 15 to 30 minutes


1 Watch the video two or three times  and then use the illustration below to talk about the subject. Just focus on the main ideas - you don't need to remember all the words.

2  Do the two exercises on the worksheet. When you've finished, watch the video again to check your answers.
3 The speaker speaks quickly but pauses from time to time. Listen and mark all the pauses with a  /  in the text. Then listen to each sentence again and repeat, pausing at the same time as the speaker.
e.g  It needs to be oriented properly / so the sun can heat it in the winter / and shade is provided in the summer /

The worksheet is here.
The answers are below

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Video: Teleconferencing expressions

(A2), B1, B2 

Teleconferences can save valuable time and money compared with real face-to-face meetings. But as in all meetings, the behaviour of participants and technological problems can make them less efficient. This video shows some of  the problems encountered in teleconferences.  These are presented in a humorous way, imagining the discussion as a real face-to-face meeting.  You will learn some useful expressions for  teleconferences and for meetings in general. Video time: 3 minutes 25 seconds  Activity time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Task:   Look at the worksheet - the link is below. There are four exercises to do before, while and after watching the video. 
NB You only need to watch the first 3 minutes and 25 seconds of the video (until the end of the teleconference)

Go to the worksheet here.
The answers to the exercises are below.

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Reading: The People Walker

(A2) B1, B2

You've probably heard of people who you can pay to walk your dog for you.  You're going to read about Chuck McCarthy, who has started his own business as a "people walker". And he has already been surprisingly successful. Activity time: 20 to 30 minutes

Task: Answer the questions

1  What does his job consist of?
2  Why did he decide to do it?
3  How does he advertise? 
4  What success has he had?
5  What do people want to talk about?
6  Does he work alone?
7  Does he have any plans to develop the business?
8  Why does he think people are interested?

What do you think of the idea of paying somebody to walk with you?

The reading text is here  
The answers are below

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Video: Wind turbine quiz

(A1), A2, B1, B2

How much do you know about wind turbines? You are going to do a quiz and then watch a video to find the answers.Video time: 4 minutes 12 seconds. Activity time: 10 - 30 minutes

Task:  First try and guess the answers to these questions. 

1             How fast do wind turbines rotate (in rpm) ?

2             What percentage of the time do they rotate?

3             Which country in Europe has the most wind?
4             Which country in Europe has the biggest concentration of wind turbines?
5             How many homes can be powered by one wind turbine?
6             How many solar panels are needed to produce the same amount of energy ?
7             How long is the lifespan of a wind turbine?
8             How much CO2 is saved a year by one wind turbine, compared with 
               the same energy produced by fossil fuels?
9             What percentage of bird deaths are caused by wind turbines ?
10           How noisy is a wind turbine  (in decibels) at a distance of 400m?
11           What percentage of people in the UK are in favour of wind power?

2   Now watch the video and compare your answers.

 The answers to the quiz are below

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Audio: Uber and company

A2, B1, (B2)

Companies like Airbnb and TaskRabbit are dramatically changing the way that we consume goods and services. This creates competition with traditional operators, which has both advantages and disadvantages for the different parties concerned.  In this listening activity from Breaking News English, you will hear a short article about the Uber taxi ride company. You will hear the complete text and then practise listening to individual sentences. Activity time: 25 to 45 minutes

1  General comprehension: Choose the speed at which you want to listen and try and understand the general sense. If this is difficult, try noting down the key words you hear and think about how they go together. You can go down the page to read the text if necessary. When you have finished, try listening at the fastest speed without the text.

Go to the activity here

2 Dictation exercise: Follow the instructions for Dictation 1. Press the "Help" button if you need help finding words. When you've finished, click on "Next dictation" to go to the next sentence.

Go to the activity here



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