The Google “search stories”

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Google has a series of charming ads on YouTube called “Search stories” that are just perfect for English lessons. This one was broadcast on Sunday during the Superbowl. I’m going to play a few of the series in my classes tomorrow and have groups develop the profiles and tell the stories of the people doing the searches:



9 Responses

  1. The goal of this lesson is to practice the language of exploring and sharing experience. Students reconstruct an engaging story, hypothesize details to complete the picture, perhaps explore leads, and then connect the dots in pair interviews. At the end they read out a template with standard storytelling/conversation markers and ad lib contents. Mouthing those is a first familiarization. (I learned to use templates like this from Mark Powell.)

    I engaged in a bit of proper “action research” yesterday to see which parts of this plan would work, using this with three different classes. (Yeah, an effective day!) My findings:

    1. A one-to-one financial type, almost B2, but worried about grammar: He could relate as he’s got a little girl and spent time abroad in college. It took him a moment to get into imagining the other guy, but then worked hard on the questions, reviewing the past tense (I fed back the corrected sentences). We got into a conversation relating to his experience. He feels he needs to study grammar, so he’ll be reviewing the past tense in Murphy for homework and also write up the questions for next week.
    I always try to trick him out of focussing on “grammar”, explaining that he’s easy to understand and shouldn’t worry; but this is an area he really wants to improve in. He shuts down when he’s in grammar mode and makes bizzare mistakes that he wouldn’t if he were just talking. So I focus on involving him in conversation and showing him the good language he produces.

    2. Two assistants (B1): lots of hypothesizing about the guy. (“She was the sixth girl he had coffee with.”) Questions and answers a snap, they, too, will write them up for practice at home.

    3. Company course, biotech (B2-C1; scientists + lab technicians + an admin): this group got into full swing with this, doing all aspects for the “Parisian Love Affair” video and discussing several of the other videos (especially “Newbie”). This is a very talkative, imaginative group that you can do anything with. <3! Since they were just 4 yesterday, we varied the pairwork interview to take turns calling out the interview question and whoever was ready to answer would do so. Language feedback here was on idiomatic phrases and register. No homework, as only half the course was there. Possibly next lesson I'll have those who were there tell the others about the lesson and have them all share stories of their own searches.

    In all classes:
    The key word "crib" in the last frame needed to be taught. The baby's laughter should really have given it away, but there's really a lot of detail to process by then.

    Being a member of a network of teachers experimenting with technology, I briefly imagined these students producing a video of their own "Google search story". Not doing it. I don't think they would produce or review a fraction of the language they did yesterday.

    Worthwhile recordings: Recording the interview in a one-to-one class for feedback – this particularly to free me up to listen to content and not take language notes. And recording the template with content filled in – for the learner experience of hearing himself produce lexically correct English.

    Self-imposed homework done 🙂

  2. Anne. . . do you have a net-connected computer in your classrooms? Advice on using YouTube videos in class?

    I like this idea alot!

  3. Toby,
    You can download any YouTube video as an mp4 by copying the URL into
    Or more simply, install FVD, a Firefox add-on, in your browser for one-click mp4 downloads:
    We often have internet connection options but would need to set things up, and it’s just faster to have the videos on my hard drive. Also, it’s easier to scroll forwards and backwards.
    Let me know how this goes for you!

  4. Oi, thank you Vicki!! And what a marvellous parody. I like the way there are little pauses in the search. Will wrap and take to class as a special treat.

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