Sunday, October 21, 2018

English Video Discussion - Crazy Guy gets Stung by Scorpion

This discussion uses a lot of conditionals like "what would you do?"

Key Vocab:
Epipen- Medicine to stop your heart from racing after an animal sting
Lethal - Can kill you
Venom - a deadly liquid in animals that they attack with
Swelling - After an injury, the blood rushes to the area of the body and makes it get bigger.

Pre- Discussion:
Do you have scorpions where you live?
Have you ever been stung by a bee, wasp, or other insect?
Would you ever do something crazy to get more attention for your Youtube videos?

What kind of reaction did Coyote have to the scorpion sting?
Would you have done what he did? Why or why not?
Would you have done what he did for money? How much?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Five Ways to Start a Presentation Effectively

Here is a narrated video I created to teach you how to effectively start your presentations! Sometimes it is hard to know how we should start a presentation, this video and slide show gives five ways to make that happen.

In this video, I go through examples of each type of starter, then I make sure that I give an example of how to use them. I hope this will be of great help to you in starting your presentations.

For teachers, if you would like to use this lecture for your classes, here is the downloadable worksheet for the lecture. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

English Video Discussion - The Afterlife

This is a beautiful video showing how far a parent would go to be with his or her child. It is sad, but it is also hopeful and touching.


  1. What are some beliefs that people have about the afterlife (after you die)?
  2. How would you feel if you could see someone you had lost to death again?

Post -Discussion:

  1. What did the father do?
  2. Why did he do it?
  3. Would you have done the same thing? Why or Why not?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Five Free Ways to Improve your English Now!

Many times, we want to do something important, like lose weight, exercise, or learn a skill, but we put it off for another day. One day becomes two, then three, and a year later, we haven't even started. That's the reason why I wrote this post. I want you to start improving your English today! This post is focused on giving you steps that you can take right now to help you achieve your English goals and your career goals.

1.  Entertainment: What kind of movies/TV shows do you like?  Crackle is a service by Sony that has all free full length, high-quality, legal movies to watch. They have an app on Android and Apple as well.  I would recommend Crackle if you don't have access to Hulu or Netflix, or can't spend the money on those services right now. Choose one show/movie and commit yourself to starting to watch the entire movie or season/all episodes, starting today. This will greatly expand your vocabulary and knowledge of idioms as well.   Use the subtitles to increase your reading and listening abilities. When you feel that you are confident enough, drop the subtitles.

If possible, sign up for a pay service like Netflix, Hulu, or some other movie/TV show streaming service. They have newer content, better phone apps,  and more features to their sites. Use the subtitles to increase your reading and listening abilities.

 If you are interested in how to watch media sources like these to improve certain areas of your English, please check out this post on How to Watch Movies to Learn English. Other sites like "Daily Motion," "Vimeo, " "PBS Video" or "Short Film of the Week" are great to watch movies and films in your interest area.

2. Gamify your English:  How many people have you heard say, "I just love learning English. It is so fun!"? I bet  you haven't heard too many people say that. I sure haven't, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Some students may think that language learning has to be boring. It doesn't! Great sites are available to learn English in a fun way. Try apps like Memrise, Duolingo, and Babbel to help you to be motivated. Each one of these has its benefits. I find that Duolingo is more for phrases and general language knowledge, but Memrise is more about learning the rules of the language. Babbel has both a paid and free service. Another great free site is Games to Learn English. 

My favorite site to show my students  and to use with them is Quizlet, which is a free service (for students) that has thousands of flashcard sets that students can use to study their English.

So, start with a site like Duolingo,  Quizlet or Memrise today, and see how it motivates you to study harder.

3. News:  If you commonly check the news, change the way you get your news. Place an English site as your homepage in your browser today. If you usually get news from a site in your country, change the language in your browser settings. Also, try out some really great resources like Readlang, a chrome app that allows you to click on any word for a definition and create flashcards from each word clicked. See a sample below from English to Spanish.

Sites like also have features that allow you to be able to click on text and change the language. Another great upcoming site is, a site that creates quizzes and practice from CNN news stories every day.

4. Podcasts:  Use  services like iTunes or Castbox for Android to download podcasts on your
preferred topics in English.  The great thing about Castbox is that you can download your podcasts with a Wifi Signal, then listen to them later while you are on the go. Also, you can slow the speed down if the speaker is too fast. Listen while you drive to work, walk through town, or when you are in a boring class (just kidding!).

The most important thing in choosing a podcast is to find a subject you enjoy or can be useful to you.  Also, if there is a story you know in your language, find the English version on an audio book service like Audible and listen to the story in English. Your familiarity with the story will allow you to pick out a lot of new vocabulary and phrases in English. 

One very interesting Podcast I enjoy is called "Hardcore History" by Dan Carlin. Another popular one is called the "Walk," which is a story in which the listening is the main character and "walks" through Scotland on an adventure (I don't know if I can fully recommend it as I just heard about it). Let me know if it is any good.

5. Conversation Apps:  It is one thing to learn rules and grammar in a language, but it is an entirely different thing to be able to have a conversation. However, that is the main point of why many people want to learn a language. There are a few free apps like Tandem and HelloTalk that allow speakers to pair up with native speakers from all over the world. Many times these speakers want to learn your language as you practice theirs, so it is a good exchange. Both Tandem and HelloTalk are available through the App stores in Google Play and the Apple Store. Download one of them today!

We have a saying in English: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This means that in order to achieve a big dream, you have to take an action in that direction. So, I encourage you to watch a movie in English on Crackle, download one of these apps, find a great podcast, but do something!

Please let me know below any other ideas of how you improve your English below in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

English Video Discussion - Breakups

Many of us have experienced the hurt of a relationship breakup, but how long does it take to find the right person again? This video shows how easily a person can think they have found the right person, but then realize that they might not have been the right one after all.

  1. Do you believe that dating before marriage is a good idea or bad idea? Why?
  2. Have you ever had to break up with someone? Has anyone ever broken up with you?
  3. Have you ever thought you loved someone only to find out that he or she wasn't for you?
  4. What qualities do you think are in the ideal (perfect) partner?

  1. What did the man think would happen if he met the woman?
  2. What happened after he finally met the woman on the bus?
  3. What happened when he found out the woman on the bus wouldn't be with him?
  4. Do you agree with the idea of a man/woman of your dreams?
  5. What was the video trying to show about finding the perfect partner?
What do you think of the video?  Please comment below to join in the discussion!

Monday, March 19, 2018

English Video Discussion - Risk

There is a saying in English that says, "No risk, no reward." It basically means that if you don't take a chance, you will miss good things that could have happened to you if had taken that chance.

This video is about how our lives have a certain amount of seconds, and unless we take advantage of those special opportunities, we may miss a lot of good things.

  1. Have you ever regretted not taking a risk?
  2. What kind of risks are you willing to take in your life to get a reward?
  3. Do you have to take risks to improve your English? What kind of risks?

  1. What kind of risk did the young man take?
  2. What reward did he get?
  3. What did the video show about the alternative life he would have lived?
  4. What do you think was the main message of the movie?

Please comment below and share this activity!

Monday, March 12, 2018

English Video Discussion - Eating Garbage

This video is about some people called "Freegans." People who eat from the dumpsters in many cities. 

Dumpster Diving - Going through trash of large restaurants/stores to find valuable objects.

  1. Do you believe that restaurants and supermarkets should throw away perfectly good food just because it is past the date of expiration?
  2. Do you finish all of your food at a restaurant, or do you throw some away?
  3. Would you eat food out of a dumpster? Why or why not?


  1. What reasons do these "Freegans" have for doing it?
  2. Do you think that Dumpster Diving should be illegal?
  3. Do you agree that restaurants waste too much?
  4. Do you agree with the last man that this movement is positive? 
  5. What are the benefits of this type of lifestyle?
  6. What are the disadvantages? 
If you want to see how MUCH food and goods you can get from Dumpster Diving, check out this real life video of a dumpster diver.  Do you still think you won't eat or go in the trash? This is amazing!

Please comment with your opinion and share!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

English Video Discussion - Do Dreams Come True?

Most of us have dreams, but do they always come true?  This video shows how dreams in our lives can be real and imaginary (unreal). (It is a commercial, but I think the main idea is quite interesting).

  1. Do you ever have weird (unusual dreams)?
  2. Do you ever have a recurring (happening more than once) type of dream? 
  3. Do you think you can control your dreams, or are you out of control in your dreams?

Honda - Dreams from Blink on Vimeo.

Post - Discussion:
  1. What was the dream of the man when he was a boy?
  2. Did he accomplish his dream?
  3. What is your future dream (plan)?
  4. How will you accomplish that dream?

Did you like the video? Please leave a comment on the video below!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

English Video Discussion - What are Dreams?

Dreams are an amazing human ability that many people really don't understand. Many of us even forget our dreams. This video talks about how dreaming happens.

  1. Do you like to have dreams?
  2. Do you have mostly good or bad dreams?
  3. Are you able to remember your dreams later in the day after you wake up?
  4. Why do you think that we have dreams? 
  5. What do you think that most dreams mean?

  1. What is REM?
  2. Why does the video say we dream? What is one theory?
  3. Does the video give the answer to why we dream?
  4. What is your most common dream? 
What do you think? Please leave a comment on the video below! Start a discussion here on the ESL Commando!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

English Video Discussion - Ocean Pollution

By some estimates, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. Watch this video and discuss how these students are starting to help save the oceans.

Keyword: Styrofoam - material used for cups/containers (Seen below)

  1. Do you have a recycling program in your town?
  2. Do you think most people use it?
  3. Where do you think most plastic ends up after it is used?

  1. Why did the animals eat plastic?
  2. What was the material that the speakers were the most worried about?
  3. How did the kids help to clean up the beach area?
  4. What could we do to prevent this kind of pollution? In a pair/group, come up with three possible solutions. 
What do you think? Please leave a comment on the video below! Start a discussion here on the ESL Commando!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Adjective Clause Practice Quiz

This quiz has automatic feedback for each answer that is given. Enjoy improving your skills in adjective clauses!

Each question has an explanation. Take the quiz and see how you do!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

English Video Discussion - Bullying

Bullying has always been a problem in schools, but even more so now with the advent of social media. This video sends a positive message to those who have experienced bullying: You can overcome bullying and still be successful.

Ridicule - To make fun of someone

Pre Discussion:
  1. Why do you think people bully others?
  2. What can schools do to prevent bullying?
  3. If someone you knew were bullied, how could you help that person?

Post Discussion:
  1. What effect did bullying have on David Wang?
  2. How did he deal with bullying in a positive way?
  3. How has his new hobby changed his view of himself?
What do you think? Please leave a comment on the video below! Start a discussion here on the ESL Commando!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

English Video Discussion - Craftsmanship

This video is unique to the site because it has no words, but it "says" a lot. It shows a man crafting an amazing piece of woodwork from beginning to end using traditions and tools taught by his father. I believe that this is filmed in Canada.

Pre -Discussion:

  1. What are some typical crafts made my people in your region/country?
  2. Do you prefer local crafts over store bought items?
  3. Would you pay more for a locally made item than something imported? Why or why not?
My Father's Tools from Wapikoni mobile on Vimeo.

Post Discussion:
  1. How long would you guess that it took to make the man's craft?
  2. Do you think that crafts like this will survive our new technology? Why or why not?
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a craftsman like the one in the video?

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