Subversive Teaching – 52

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Month: April, 2012

Product placement

This video and teaching idea were submitted to us this past weekend by Phil Wade, a fellow teacher and blogger over at EFL thoughts and reflections. He sent us this video because he thought we’d be interested, and we immediately loved it. We asked him if he would mind 1) us sharing it here and 2) if he could write about how he’d use it.

We’ll let him answer for himself. Phil writes:

The world is not how you think it is. You have been fooled and tricked. Your opinions and choices are not your own. What you do, where you go and what you buy have already been decided for you. Your view of history, the present and the future is controlled and manipulated. You must break free!

Adverts no longer have an impact. Through continued exposure you have become immune so now companies and brands have a better weapon………product placement!

Teaching ideas: Show one of the film clips, ask if it is an advert or a scene in a film and what the differences are. Try it with no sound or no picture and freeze frame. Then ask what it was about and what students noticed. Did they see any products or hear them mentioned?

Was it an essential scene in the film of just a secret advert to promote a product? Did it work on your students?

Watch the whole video and discuss the different examples. Talk about what Coke represents and why. Is it really timeless? Does it epitomize American culture? Which other brands represent cultures or countries and in which time periods?

Is it really “more realistic” to include brands in films? What does that say about our society? How do your students feel about products taking center stage in films and almost becoming main characters?

The AOL/Sleepless in Seattle is particularly interesting as the film is entirely based on a service and is just one big advert. How about the new Bond film which has has been partly financed by product placement? Is the future ‘film advertising’?

Thanks Phil!




This is a video of the dictation text we used in 52, simply called Machine. The speaker is Mario Savio, a political activist from New York who was very active in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the 1960s in California.

This is from his most famous speech was made December 2 1964, sometimes referred to as the “put the bodies on the gears” speech . Here is a transcript below. We suggested a couple of directions this video speech could take the class in our book 52, but how might you use it? Post a comment if you like.

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”