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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Parkour in the Park (with links)

As is usual, when somebody shares a video on Facebook or Twitter, I automatically wonder whether I could use it in class. This particular video seemed ideal - the theme is relevant and motivating to teenagers and lots of language work could emerge from it. The video shows a group of young men doing parkour or freerunning. Despite the title of this post, the term parkour does not come from the word park but from the French parcours which means route or course. Parkour is a way of moving around a city by the shortest route possible, including jumping over walls, doing forward and backward flips and so on. It is a phenomenon that is taking the world of teenage boys by storm. It has possibly replaced skateboarding as the thing to do in the streets and I have actually seen lads on the street practising jumps from high walls. I plan to show the video to my teenage FCE group to start with, and possibly with a couple of other classes that may find it interesting. Below are some of the activities I have thought of doing.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

First, I plan to show the first 45 seconds, where the men are in the garage getting into their car. I want the students to discuss what kind of people they are, where they think they are going and what they are going to do. There is no indication at this point that they are going to do parkour, in fact, they look more likely to be on their way to rob a petrol station! 

Then the expression "Storm Freerun" comes up on the screen. What do they think it refers to? Have they heard this term before?

I may tell the students to write down the actions that they see in the clip while they are watching.

We will brainstorm obstacles that you can find in a city (walls, railings etc) and verbs of movement. This is a good opportunity to check student's knowledge of verbs of movement and preposition combinations, such as jump over, run through, climb over and more unusual verbs such as crouch, squat, leap, drop, crawl, land. We can then move on to nouns such as somersault, backflip, twist, body roll.

An activity that I thought they may enjoy and get to practise some of the vocabulary we looked at in previous activities is to get them design a route suitable for a freerun. They would draw a plan of a part of a city, including buildings, walls, fences, steps, railings etc or any other obstacles. They would then have to describe the sequence of movements of the runner. 

Another task, since they are an FCE group, could be to write a story about a freerunner describing his thoughts during a run. It could be written in first or third person and could be told in the present or in the past, as a dream or memory.
Oh, and one final point to make would be "Don't try this at home!" We could discuss the dangers of this type of hobby and possible consequences if safety measures are not taken.

Here is the link to the worksheet  I made for my FCE group.

I have also uploaded a magazine article kindly shared by Ceri Jones about local teenagers doing "tricks" in Cádiz, Sothern Spain here, which I hope can be downloaded and printed off in a decent size.

You are welcome to download, edit and use these materials in your own lessons. Enjoy!
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