Posted 9/11/07
This activity uses an advert to demonstrate how students’ imaginations can be put to work by giving them access to the sound but not the picture. In the advert, which is for a German renewable energy company, we hear a mysterious Mr W tell us a bit about his life. Students are then asked to use his words to write a story. Note that the actor in this clip has a false French accent.
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1)
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults; CLIL
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Activity: Creative writing
  • Topic: Renewable energy
  • Language: Adverbs
  • Materials: Video; Worksheet
Mr W pdf [downloaded 6914 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Tell students that you are going to introduce them to a mystery man called Mr. W.
  2. Give out copies of the worksheet Mr. W (included in the PDF download) and ask students to complete the text by adding the adverbs.
  3. Let students compare their answers.
  4. Let students correct their answers by letting them hear Mr. W speak. Play the clip but do not let students see the screen (i.e. audio only).
  5. Help students with any unknown words or language.
  6. Ask your students to listen to the clip again. This time, ask them to ignore Mr. W’s voice and the piano music, and concentrate on the other noises that they can hear in the background. Allow students to make a list of the things they hear. Allow them to compare ideas after listening. (Note that there are a few interesting noises that might engage students’ imaginations for the next step: footsteps, something smashing, someone screaming, etc).
  7. Dictate the following questions to your students:
    * What do you think Mr W. looks like?
    * Who is he and where is he from?
    * Why do you think people didn’t like him?
    * What did he do to get on their nerves?
    * Who do you think finally accepted him for what he is?
    * What is his new job?
  8. Brainstorm your students for answers to the questions and write ideas on the board. Alternatively, allow students to discuss the questions in pairs.
  9. Ask your students to write a short story about Mr. W. Ask them to plan it by considering the questions from step 7. Set a minimum number of words (150, for example).
  10. Invite students to read out their stories to the rest of the class before taking them in for correction.
  11. Let your students watch the video clip from the start and stop it at 1:45 (just after Mr. W says, “I finally feel useful – good at something.”). Ask your students if they can explain the advert. There is a clue in the picture (the windmill).
  12. (Note that some students may not understand the advert. Ask other students to explain it to them – in their mother tongue if necessary).

Posted 9/11/07

31 Responses to Mr. W

  1. Sarah Kendall says:

    I absolutely love this lesson plan. I’m about to use it once again for a class of young adults. I teach in France and most of my students find Mr W easy to understand because in the video he is speaking english with a french accent.

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Sarah
    One teacher that I spoke to who works in Paris told me that her students cringe because of Mr W’s ‘phoney’ accent! I’m glad to hear differently from you.
    Thanks for the comment

  3. Gail says:

    Hi Jamie, it’s Gail in China again. Just wanted to thank you for another fantastic lesson. I’ve been encouraging my students to be more creative since I’ve arrived here (often with little result), but I was amazed at the ideas that were produced out of this lesson!

    I did the story as a speaking activity, because I’m teaching oral English. I also got sound effects off the internet that they could use in the story (e.g. footsteps, a scream – like we hear in the Mr. W clip). And then at the end I had a few groups perform their story, using the sound effects at the appropriate times – great fun!

    Thanks again :)

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Gail
    Thanks for the feedback/ideas. Great tip to get sound effects to complement the activity. What website do you use for that?

  5. Lewis says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Just wanted to say (a well overdue!) thank you for all the interesting and imaginative ideas you’ve posted for this, and all the other videos on the site. I’m sure that the subject matter of this particular clip will provoke a lot of interesting post-video discussion, given the awful events unfolding in Japan.
    Thank you again for all the hard work and inspiration :)

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Lewis
    I appreciate your feedback. You are right that this clip could be topical at the moment. Coincidentally, I am using it a lot at the moment in a series of teacher training sessions that I am giving in Austria. It seems to encapsulate everything that video has to offer.
    Thanks again

  7. Ebru says:

    Hi Jamie, I watched your presentation at Istek Confence and loved this lesson and used it in my class yesterday. They really liked it and they were very excited about Mr.W. The next day when I went into the class they said “What are we doing today Ms Ebru? Mr R? (Mr.Rain) :) I’m waiting for the TV one you said at the conference :)
    Thank you.

  8. Jamie Keddie says:

    Mr R! What a great idea.
    I wonder if students could suggest a similar format for that character. Might be difficult because his actions are more limited. Could Mr R do the same things as Mr W? He could definitely mess up someone’s hair. Other verbs might include ruin, soak, cause, run and fall.
    Give me a couple of weeks maximum and the television plan will be posted.
    Thanks you for the comment!
    Jamie :-)

  9. Vildan says:

    Hi Jamie, used your lesson at a “train the trainer course” which I’m attending. I can just say that all my colleagues loved it. Thank you…

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Vildan
    Great choice of clip! One of my favourites. Good to get your feedback.
    Jamie :-)

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Clare Bromfield has used Mr W to teach French and has just sent me this translation (thank you Clare :-)

    Je pense que j’ai toujours été incompris.
    Les gens ne semblaient pas m’aimer.
    Je pense que je les embêtais, je leur tapais sur les nerfs.
    Je ne sais pas pourquoi. C’était comme ça.
    Peut-être que j’étais trop intense, peut-être que j’en faisais trop.
    Je ne sais pas. Je ne peux vraiment pas dire.
    Ouais, j’étais très seul, vraiment seul, mais on s’y fait au bout d’un moment.
    Et puis, un jour, tout a changé.
    Quelqu’un m’a finalement accepté pour ce que j’étais.
    Depuis que j’ai ce job, la vie est complètement différente.
    Je me sens enfin utile, bon à quelque chose !

    Questions for students :
    Vous allez décrire ce mec.
    Qui est-il et il vient d’où ?
    Pourquoi pensez-vous que les gens ne l’aimaient pas ?
    Qu’est-ce qu’il a fait pour leur taper sur les nerfs ?
    Qu’est-ce qu’il a fait finalement pour être accepté ?
    Quel est son nouveau travail ?

  12. Stephanie says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Greetings from Munich! I used Mr. W last week with a small group of students who I’d used the sneezing panda and brown-bear-on-the-bridge lessons with in the past. It went down really well. Their question was: why a French man, and why was he speaking English, especially since the vid was part-sponsored by the German Ministry for the Environment… What shall I tell them?
    Thanks for the lovely website, Jamie, I love it!

  13. Jamie Keddie says:

    Why is the wind French? I have no idea. Probably more to do with the French mime tradition. Do you know who Alan Partridge is? He is a British comedian that has a spoof chat show. Here he is getting into trouble with some French clowns:
    Thank you for the feedback Stephanie! Really appreciate it.
    Jamie :-)

  14. Cris Chiarello says:

    Hey Jamie!

    Man, your website is awesome! My students just love your lessons! This particular one is one of my favorites! I have used this lesson a couple of times and we all had a laugh! While learning! Man you’re my hero!! Do you have plans to come to Brazil? Any conference, seminar or talks of some sort around here? Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us teachers!

  15. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hey Chris
    Yours is comment of the week! Thanks a lot for the nice words.
    Would love to get to Brazil. I am in Argentina at the moment – my first ever trip to South America. You’ll have to put some pressure on the conference organisers.
    Jamie :-)

  16. dyah supraba lastari says:

    Hi Jamie, Thank you for sharing the Video Telling! I’ve just used this clip for the listening-speaking activities. I asked my students (teenagers) to retell what Mr. W said using indirect speech. By the way, after attending seminar in Singapore and your presentation in Jakarta, My supervisor has asked me to share about Video-telling with my fellow teachers. Do you mind if I use Mr. W, Super chill or Clumsy best man for that sharing program?

  17. Jamie Keddie says:

    Really glad you enjoyed it Dyah
    Please do use those clips to demonstrate the technique. That’s what it is all about!
    That’s my trip over. Hope to come back again some day soon.
    Jamie :)

  18. Magda says:

    Hi Jamie!
    This lesson plan is simply awesome!!! So inspiring and interesting for my students and for ME!
    Thanks a lot!

  19. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Magda
    Happy to help!
    Jamie :)

  20. Ica says:

    Hi Jamie,
    I’m Ica from Indonesia
    Thanks for sharing the subtitle of this advertisement.
    I have searched the subtitle since 2 months ago for my paper assignment to analyse this advertisement.
    Finally i got this.
    Thank you very much

  21. Jamie Keddie says:

    Very happy to help Ica
    Jamie :)

  22. Becca Coltart says:

    Hi Jamie,

    A big thank you is long overdue! I’ve used many of your activities and you have really inspired my learners and myself on numerous occasions. My personal favourite is ‘Mr W’ – completely brilliant! It’s so refreshing to use different approaches and alternative materials and I keep promising myself I will try and develop some stuff of my own (when time and energy permits). Anyway, thanks again. Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’!


  23. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Becca
    It’s lovely to feel appreciated!
    Glad you enjoy the site
    Jamie :)

  24. Birgitta says:

    Dear Jamie,
    I have been using ideas from your book for some time and my pupils (14 – 16 years) find them very inspiring. Now we have embarked on your video lesson plans which I came across by chance and I’m in danger of becoming addicted! The lessons are extremely well-thought out and the tasks and activities challenging and creative. My pupils absolutely loved Mr. W.
    As a follow up we did a grammar exercise, changing the Mr. W. sentences first to simple past and then to passive voice. And then I asked my pupils to write letters of application to the energy company on behalf of the sun, the wind or water. Much more fun than the usual letters they have to write for exam training.
    Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas which I shall be happy to pass on to my colleagues.
    All the best

  25. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Birgitta
    Addicted to the lesson plans? You have to be very careful – that could be serious!
    Thank you for sharing the Mr W variations. I am sure you got some fun letters.
    Please do share the site with your colleagues.
    Jamie :)

  26. Jane says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Absolutely love this lesson plan, thanks! I usually follow this procedure more or less but with some of the variations. However, I recently watched a video clip of you doing it as a videotelling and I’m wondering at what stage of proceedings you do that bit? After they’ve worked on the script and prepared their or stories and before watching the video, or instead of writing their own stories? I’d love to have a go at it as I’ve never done a videotelling, but am having trouble getting procedure clear in my mind…
    Many thanks!

  27. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Jane
    It’s a great video isn’t it.
    In fact, I use the video in a talk in which I demonstrate all of the possible things that teachers could do with it. Another idea is to play the clip and let students listen to it without seeing the screen. Ask them to write down everything the hear or give the, a list of things to choose from such as:

    * A glass smashing
    * A dog barking
    * A little girl singing
    * A door slamming
    * A woman screaming
    * A cat meowing
    * A bed creaking

    (See the grammar point?)

    However, when it comes to staging, I wouldn’t try and do everything. I would choose one or tow things or else, students might start to get impatient.

    Perhaps do the videotelling, then give out copies of the text and ask students to guess what Mr W’s new job is. That way, if the videotelling doesn’t work, you have something to fall back on.

    Would that work?
    Jamie :)

  28. Jane says:

    Very helpful, thanks! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Just out of interest though, how long does it normally take you to do the actual videotelling stage? Thank you!!

  29. Jamie Keddie says:

    That is a tough question to answer Jane. For Mr W, it would depend on how talkative/willing to interact the students are. If they were particularly intactive, it could last 45 minutes. But there are all sorts of little tricks and teaching techniques that I use and that would pad it out. I am writing these up in my book which is to be published next year (Videotelling).
    Jamie :)

  30. Jessica says:

    Another teacher was with me while I did this lesson. They loved the lesson just as much as my students. The only problem was is that they take a while to write. 150 words were too many for me.

  31. Jamie Keddie says:

    Glad to hear it Jessica. Maybe turn the writing into a homework next time? But make sure they stick to 150 words. You don’t want to make more work for yourself! :)