Here is an ESL listening activity which uses James Lipton’s questions from his show Inside the Actor’s Studio. The activity works particularly well as an ice-breaker during the first day of class, but it can still be used at any time throughout the school term.Kids, Adults
The Actors Studio Listening Activity Preparation:
To prepare for this activity, you should find one of your favorite episodes of James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio. Over the past several years he has been interviewing some of Hollywood’s most critically acclaimed actors and actresses. What you will be using for this activity are the series of questions that he asks everyone at the end of each show.
Try to find an episode featuring an actor or actress that all the students are familiar with. The shows featuring Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie tend to work well. Remember to cater to your students’ preferences to keep them as engaged as possible. For instance, if your students are mostly male, select the interview with Angelina. If they are girls, Johnny would probably keep them more interested.
You will also have to prepare a handout with the questions on it. The 10 questions are provided in the guidelines below.
The Actors Studio Listening Activity Guidelines:
To start the activity, begin by discussing some films that feature the celebrity that you have chosen. You could have them brainstorm some movies or talk about their opinions about the actor or actress. Give an example of what you think of them, have them discuss in groups then lead feedback.
Next, tell them they are going to listen to an interview of that celebrity from the show Inside the Actors Studio. You may want to describe what the show is all about to give them some background information about it as well. They will listen only to the end of the interview since that is when James asks his 10 questions.
Tell them that the celebrity will be asked a series of 10 personal questions. Their task is to listen and write down what the actor’s responses are.
Hand out the papers with the questions on it that you prepared beforehand to the students. Here are the official questions from the show that you should have on the paper:
1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on?
4. What turns you off?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Before you play the interview clip, you should pre-teach the meanings of “turn ons,” “turn offs, “curse word” and “pearly gates.” Some of them may be unfamiliar with some of the terms.
Next, play the end of the interview and have the students listen for what the celebrity answers for each question. They should write down what they say for each question as accurately as possible. If you prefer to have them listen for general understanding, then they don’t have to write out every single word specifically.
Depending on their level, you may want to play the clip a second time so they can check their answers over if they missed anything the first time.
When they have finished writing down their answers, have them discuss what they heard with a partner or in small groups. Everyone checks their answers and confirms each response. Lead feedback and make any necessary corrections if there are any mistakes.
For the remainder of the activity, have the students interview each other using the same questions from the list. This works best in pairs, but they could do a group “panel” interview if the class is bigger. They usually come up with some funny and unique responses.
To finish up, get some feedback and ask the students what they answered for the 10 questions.
Follow-Up ESL Activities:
As a follow-up activity, you could try a writing exercise to integrate some of the skills they used. You could have them write a few sentences elaborating on their answers to each question or perhaps try applying the Postcards ESL Writing Activity in some way relating it to the lesson’s theme.