[New post] Albert and Aidan Sykes

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jan. 15.

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Albert and Aidan Sykes

by kierandonaghy


This ELT lesson plan is designed around a short video by Story Corps in which a nine-year-old boy interviews his father, and the themes of family and racism. In the lesson students do a dictation, predict the answer to questions, listen to an interview, answer comprehension questions, watch two short videos, and speak about the videos.



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Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper Intermediate (B2)

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Dictation, listening, watching two short videos, and speaking

Topic: Families and racism

Language: Vocabulary related to family

Materials: Two short videos

Downloadable materials: albert and aidan sykes lesson instructions


Step 1

Pre-teach the following vocabulary:
to fold
to unfold
to release
to go through your mind (to think)
to live out your dreams
to bring up kids
to give up on someone
wanna (informal contraction of want to or or want a)
gotta (informal contraction of have got to or want a)
a bunch of reasons (many reasons)
a blank canvas
a rough place
a fist
paint strokes
protests (demonstrations)

Step 2
Tell your students they are going to hear a nine-year-old boy interview his father.

Step 3

Dictate the following questions to your students:
• Do you remember what was going through your mind when you first saw me?
• Why do you take me to protests so much?
• Are you proud of me?
• What are your dreams for me?

Step 4

Pair your students. Get them to compare the questions they have written down. Check they have the correct questions.

Step 5

Ask your students to discuss what answers they think the father of a nine-year-old boy might give to the questions.

Step 6

Tell your students they are going to listen twice to the interview and that their task is to try to understand the father’s responses to his son’s questions.
Play the video but do not project the video onto a screen. Repeat.


Step 7

Ask your students to compare their answers with a partner.

Step 8

Hold a plenary discussion based on their answers to the questions, but do not indicate if their answers are correct or not.

Step 9

Tell your students that they are now going to watch a video of the interview in which they will see images as well as the transcript of the interview. As they watch they should check their answers to the questions. Play the video with both sound and image.

Step 10

Get feedback from your students on how accurate their answers were.

Step 11

Tell your students they are going to watch the video again. This time you will pause the video after every sentence. As they watch they should the speakers’ stress, intonation, linking and assimilation of words.
Play the video pausing after each sentence. Students comment on stress, intonation, linking and assimilation.

Step 12

Put your students into small groups and ask them to discuss the following questions:
• Did you like the interview? Why/why not?
• How did the interview make you feel?
• How would you describe the relationship between the father and his son?
• What does the video tell us about race relations in the USA?

Step 13

Hold a plenary discussion base don the questions from the previous stage.

Step 14

Tell your students that the interview is part of a campaign for people in the USA to share their stories organized by Story Corps which has the hashtag #whoweare. Tell them they are going to watch a short video which explains what the campaign is about. As they watch the video their task is to answer the following question:
What is the purpose of the #whoweare campaign?
Play the video.



Step 15

Get your students to discuss the purpose of the campaign and their opinion of it.


Ask your students to video their own stories about an experience of their own which amplifies love over hate, and empathy over fear. They should think of an appropriate story, write some notes, rehearse telling their story several times, and then record themselves using a mobile device. They should either send it a video file or upload it to a video-sharing site such as YouTube and send you a link. You watch the video and give them feedback on their pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

Alternatively, as a more challenging task, students can interview a member of their family about an experience which amplifies love over hate, and empathy over fear. Give them this link to Story Corps which has a wide selection of questions to ask:


They should ask their questions in English. If their relative speaks English, they should answer in English. If they don’t speak English, they should answer in their own language, and the students should translate their answers into English and add subtitles using video editing software such as Windows Move Maker or iMove. Again, they should either send you a video file or a link to the video.

I hope you enjoy this ESL lesson.


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