Listening and/or reading comprehension with Mr Bean

Understanding a lecture

It’s the end of the term and you promised your class something nice. At the same time, you want it to be a real English lesson. This is where “Rowan Atkinson Live – Elementary dating” comes into play. It is a bogus lecture on, well, how to date a girl. There is a lecturer who is presenting his topic slowly and clearly, speaking RP. This will be the listening comprehension part of your exercise.

One of the commentators below the video even typed the script (check spelling before handing out to students), so you can use that to add a reading comprehension aspect. The script also allows you to use the video with younger students.

The second element of the video is, of course, Mr Bean. He pantomimes the instructions of the lecturer, thus providing the funny element.

It might be a wise decison not to show the video before the end of the sequence. You could do it like this:

  • Think of a (funny) pre-reading step. “Have you ever dated a girl? How successful were you? Did you meet her parents? Today you will learn something really important for life: How to…” Well, something along that line.
  • Assign listening/reading tasks.
  • Work with the text, the video or both. You might want to work in groups and split the material up. (If you use the video, play sound only and hide the pictures.)
  • Add vocabulary where required.
  • After the comprehension phase, ask the groups to assign the roles of lecturer, who – as a phonetics exercise – will read out their segment of the lecture, and pantomime(s) to demonstrate the lecture’s content. Allow them to be as serious or ironic as they like.
  • Have the groups present their sections.
  • Watch the video.

Have fun.
(Potential copyright issues prevent me from offering you the material for download from here.)