Choosing a university

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The fourth in a series of lesson materials

If you’re looking for audio resources featuring a wider variety of accents than is offered in most coursebooks, then YouTube is the place to go. This is the fourth in our series of five free downloadable lesson plans and worksheets based on YouTube clips, aimed at inspiring teachers to expose students to the full range of English accents in the world.

The lessons are suitable for Pre-intermediate level classes and above, although the audio materials could be used with Elementary classes by adapting the tasks. The discussion questions related to accents and pronunciation could also be done in students’ first language if these are too challenging at their level. The materials could be used with adult or teen classes.

Choosing a university

This one-and-a-half-minute video advertises Birkbeck, University of London, which specialises in evening university study, both part-time and full-time courses. There are five speakers who all answer the same question: “Why did you choose Birkbeck?”. The speakers’ L1 backgrounds are not given, but universities are often international environments*, and there are a range of accents in the clip.

*See Jenkins, J. (2014). English as a Lingua Franca in the International University: The politics of academic English language policy Routledge

The lesson outline

  1. Students predict the reasons someone might give for choosing a particular university.
  2. Students listen and compare their predictions to what the speakers say. Then they listen again to match photos of the speakers to sentences explaining reasons for choosing Birkbeck.
  3. Students complete a dictation exercise by listening closely to just one of the speakers. They order sentences based on what they hear.
  4. Students imagine they are going (back) to university and visiting an open day. They brainstorm ten questions they would ask to help them choose which university to attend.
  5. Finally, students focus on the range of accents in the video and brainstorm ways to avoid / deal with communication breakdown.

You can download the student worksheet here and the teacher’s notes here.

More links

Here are other YouTube clips featuring university students with a range of accents:

Durham University’s business school

Foreign students in Germany

International students at the University of Bristol

International students at Michigan State University

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