Lesson with ‘Holiday Showdown’ for Upper Intermediate – Advanced

29 Mar

A jigsaw listening built around the wonderfully  trashy ITV reality show ‘Holiday Showdown’ which paid dividends with some Brazillian teenagers who’d just arrived in the UK and wanted a chance to listen to the British accent.  To be specific, they wanted exposure listening to the accent the heard people on the street using.  Time, of course, for some ITV reality show.

In this lesson, students start by watching the first part of the show ‘holiday showdown, and then split in to groups to watch the different introductions to each family.  Then they make some predictions about what will happen before finally working with some language from the video.  

A jigsaw listening is a great way to use difficult texts.  The important thing is, it gives students time to explore and control a listening themselves. They can hone in on words and phrases that they don’t understand or can’t catch,  It could be argued that this lacks realism, but then so does playing the same text several times.

I taught this lesson to a class who were doing a short course in the UK.  They wanted to ‘understand the British accent’.  These kids were Brazilian, excellent students but very unfamiliar with British accents. Even the strongest students found this a pretty difficult listening task.  The jigsaw stage actually took quite a long time, if you include the time it took to start up the laptops and shut them down again.  The end result was very good, though, they ended up listening to some parts about 11 times before finally getting it, and they kept going over individual words and phrases trying to work out exactly what they were.  I think it helped them understand the different sounds of the accent and relate it back to the language they already knew.  The lesson was reasonably engaging, too.  Most of them stayed behind and watched the rest of the show during the lunch break together, too.

The total planning time for this lesson was about 30 minutes.  The whole lesson itself took about 2 hours, partly because the discussion at the beginning went on for ages, as did some of the feedback sessions as we focused on some difficult / new language.



The videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHlTE3yjIH4  (part one) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3TbKj1tOSY (part two)

You’ll also need a way for students to play the video in small groups.  Perfectly, you would need one laptop or computer for every 2-3 students. A large computer room would be fine, or ask the students to bring in their ipads!

There are a few handouts too, I’ll C&P the text below.


1) Students talk about the different reality TV shows/formats that are popular in their country.

2) Students watch the intro to ‘holiday showdown’ as a class.  They make notes on the format of the show (carefully explained by the narrator). As a class, check they’ve understood how it works.

3) Students are split in to groups of 2-3.  These groups are divided into two different types of group – those studying the ‘Codroe family’ and those studying the ‘Tunnie Family’  I give them the appropriate worksheets (below). Each group is given a computer with youtube access.

4) In their groups, students have about 15-20  minutes to answer the questions. The times of the video they should be watching are on the worksheet. Tell them to stick within these times.  This stage is key: it allows them to control the video and go back over the difficult parts as many times as they like. At this stage, the teacher can support them by telling them new or difficult words or repeating things that they couldn’t catch.  Also, during this stage make notes on language that is new to them.

5) Students now find someone from a group who studied the other family.  In pairs, they discuss what their families are like.  The aim is to predict what will happen in the rest of the show.

6) After a whole class feedback with some boarded up predictions, students  watch the second video (part 5 of the show, the very end, where the two families sit down and talk about how the holidays went.  They listen and check their predictions.

7) Finally, I dictate these sentences (with gaps) and they listen again and fill in the gaps (hopefully, this will be new and useful language for them, I tried to choose idiomatic expressions they might not know):

I’m not saying its __________

I can not see how you can _____________

Blackpool is, from what I can ______,

When they’re grown up, I’ve got __________________________

We s________ __________ when we’re on holiday


The Codroe Family: 1:40 to 3:25

Who are they? What do they do?

Where do they like to spend their holidays? Why?

How important is family to them?

The Tunnie Family 3:25 – 4.56

Who are they? What do they do?

Where do they like to spend their holidays? Why?

How important is family to them?


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