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TV Commercial activity


This activity focuses on listening and word order.

Commercials use speech to describe a product or service, provide information or depict a situation intended to draw our attention to a product’s efficacy or appeal. They often use language in short, dynamic or humorous chunks. By scripting the content and jumbling the words students have to think about sentence structure, aided by their memory of what was said. This results in precise attention to the content as students become highly motivated to check their predictions against the spoken content.


  1. Choose a commercial and transcribe the spoken content.
  2. Jumble the sentences/phrases on a worksheet.
  3. Introduce the ad and watch it once. Elicit responses – was it funny/interesting/appealing? What was being sold? What/where was the setting?
  4. Give out the worksheet. Students work together trying to put the words in the correct order. If you think it appropriate, play the ad a second time after five minutes but without looking at the worksheet. Continue with the activity. Watch the commercial and check the answers.
  5. Alternatively, put the jumbled sentences on the board one by one and get the students in teams to work out the order. When a team thinks they have the correct order they call out. Check their answer. If it’s correct, they get two points, if it’s wrong, all the other teams get one point.

Obviously, the content will determine the language points you want to highlight. In the case of ‘Snapdragon’ I look at comparatives and the use of ‘way’ as a modifier and in/to prepositions. Students can also try reading the text with the ad on but the sound turned off.



This summer a dragon is coming

Come on you beast!

Stay together and we live

No, a slightly smaller dragon, tiny really

But faster, way faster, really.

And cuter, but not that cute.

A dragon that’s smarter, more advanced…

…can multi-task and doesn’t waste power.

This summer, a dragon is coming.

Not to a theatre,

Not to an enchanted little village.

Nope, this dragon is coming to your phone.

Well, technically, in your phone.

Make sure your next phone

Has the blockbuster speed and performance…

Hundreds of millions already love.

Make sure it has a snapdragon.

JUMBLED – the first word of each phrase is capitalized.

This / dragon / coming / a / is / summer

beast! / you / on / Come

we / and / together / live / Stay

No, / really / smaller / tiny / slightly / a / dragon

faster / faster / way / But / really

not / but / And / cuter / cute / that

dragon / A / more / that’s /advanced / smarter…

multi-task / power / and / can / waste / doesn’t

This / dragon / coming / a / is / summer

to / theatre / Not / a

an / to / village. / theatre / Not / little / enchanted

coming / this / Nope / phone / your / to / dragon / is

in / phone / technically / your / Well, /

your / Make / phone… / sure / next

speed / Has / performance / and / blockbuster / the /

millions / love / already / of / Hundreds

Snapdragon® / sure / Make / has / it

Why? Using a TV commercial …

Using a TV commercial to create a drama narration/dialogue activity

Suggested level – B1+ This education ministry commercial from Singapore tells the story of a young boy who does badly at school, before being motivated by his teachers who help him ask questions, gain confidence and search for solutions. Procedure:

1. Watch the commercial once with the sound turned off and elicit suggestions from the class based on the following prompts.Who are the main characters? What is the connection between them? How does the boy feel? What is the man doing at the beginning? Where does the action take place?

  1. Watch the commercial again. Put students into small groups to discuss the story further. Depending on what information come out in step 1, you might want to point out that the story is told in reverse – the man at the beginning is the boy we see later on.
  1. Watch the video again. Ask students to try and write down any of the ‘why’ questions they hear.

Elicit ideas and put these phrases up: Why can’t a car drive itself? Why can’t he see it? Why don’t you show them? Why can’t we try an element…? Why don’t you give it a rest man? Why can’t I do better? Why? Why can’t I be like everyone else? Why can’t we turn failure into success? Why can’t we change the way we power the world? And any of the responses: Yes, we can. Of course you can, and you will. Why would you want to be? Clarify the chronology of the story by getting students to number the questions as they happen in time. Suggested answers:

  1. Why can’t a car drive itself?
  2. Why can’t he see it?
  3. Why don’t you show them?

6.Why can’t we try an element…? 5.Why don’t you give it a rest man? 4.Why can’t I do better? 3.Why? 2 Why can’t I be like everyone else? 1 Why can’t we turn failure into success? 10 Why can’t we change the way we power the world?

Narration/drama activity.

Tell students to work in groups. One student is Teck, another his teachers, another can be the friend (questions 5 and 8) and another the narrator. If groups are bigger the narration and teacher parts can be shared. Students write a narrative to combine with the questions. This can be very simple (Teck failed his exams. But a teacher said ‘Why can’t we turn failure into success?) or more complex (Because Teck failed his exams he was sent to a class for students who were not doing well at school.) Emphasize that the narration doesn’t have to be long or complicated, it should just introduce the questions and tell Teck’s story. Monitor and provide assistance as required. Finally, students can perform their versions to the class. Notes: The ad is actually for teacher recruitment. This is the accompanying text: One teacher can change your perspective. Many teachers can change your life. Discover the impact of Teck’s teachers on the different stages of his life — where curiosity was encouraged, perceived norms were challenged, and individuality, embraced. If you think you can be that difference, join us. There is another ad in this series featuring a girl student

Using TV commercials


This activity is a simple but highly effective and enjoyable way of working on pronunciation and intonation and drawing out the meaning of a spoken text.

Materials: A TV commercial that uses a voiceover. It could be an ad with more than one voice but this can get confusing so I look for ads with one voice.

In this example, I have used a Conservation International (CI) spot called Home.

This is the transcript:

I am home. I give you comfort. I shelter your family. See me for who I am. Home, sweet home. I am your refuge. I am the floor that supports you. The foundation that keeps you steady. The walls that give you shelter. The roof that protects you. I am your home. If you don’t take care of me, I cannot take care of you.

Divide students into two groups. One group watches the ad without sound or text. They make notes on what they see.

The other group read the text. Tell them they must read it so it ends after 53 seconds. Encourage them to try reading the text in different ways (sad, happy, puzzled, etc.)

Make new groups of four – two from each group. With the text and the description of the ad the group produces a reading of the text they think sounds good. These versions can then before performed with the ad on the screen with sound turned off.

Finally, watch the ad with the sound and discuss questions such as:
In what ways is the reading similar or different from the way we read? Which words are emphasized?
Does the speed change or stay the same?

If you think it is appropriate, students can try to imitate the way the ad was read.