Sitcom information Activity
This is a further activity based around sitcoms, and is suitable for intermediate - upper
Intermediate levels. Students are given a gapped text about sitcoms. The missing words are all
verbs. Students have to read the text and choose the correct verbs for each gap. The verbs are
provided in the infinitive so students have to write them in the appropriate form.
You will need one copy of the handout (photocopiable sheet Sitcoms 1) for each student.
Introduce the topic of sitcoms. Write the word "sitcom" on the board and ask students what it
Try to elicit the fact that the word "sitcom" is a blend of two words: "situation" and "comedy". We
call words like this "portmanteau" words. Other examples are "brunch" (breakfast and lunch),
"smog" (smoke and fog) and "wikipedia" (wiki and encyclopaedia).
Put students into small groups and ask them to discuss the following:
• What do you know about sitcoms?
• How long does a sitcom usually last?
• Do you watch any sitcoms?
• Do you know any English language sitcoms?
• Where and when do you think sitcoms first started?
Elicit a few ideas from each group and write them on the board.
Gap fill exercise
Tell students that they are going to read about sitcoms. Explain that they are going to have a
text with ten gaps. The missing words are all verbs.
Give each student a copy of photocopiable sheet Sitcoms 1. Tell students to read the whole text
first ignoring the gaps. Give them a few minutes to read. Explain the meaning of any unknown
words as necessary or encourage students to guess the meaning from the context.
Put students into pairs to do the gap fill exercise. First get students to check that they
understand the meaning of all ten verbs. Provide dictionaries or get students to share their
Explain that students have to choose the correct verb for each gap and make sure that they
write the verb in the correct form. Give students plenty of time to finish the exercise before
providing them with the answers.
1 broadcast / broadcasted (both are correct)
Using Situation Comedy (Sitcom) to Enrich Learners' Vocabulary
In a college course of reading and vocabulary I used the TV sitcom show, Everybody Loves
Raymond, to build up my students' vocabulary. The comedy creates an intriguing and relaxing
learning environment in which the students learn not just English words but also culture, humor
and body language. Because the vocabulary activity was an innovation in this kind of course, I
surveyed the students after using it on the first day of the class. Almost all the students in the
class agreed that the activity was an effective way to develop their vocabulary and should be
applied for the rest of the semester.
The two hour college course was conducted in a large computerized classroom. In the front of
the classroom is the teacher's computer which is connected to the rest of the computers. The
software installed in the main computer allows the teacher to control and monitor the students'
computers so that they can engage in the same activity all together.
Everybody Loves Raymond is a popular American sitcom TV show which is about how
Raymond, a sportswriter, deals with the conflicts from his marriage and families. Throughout
the semester, fifteen episodes from the first season of the show were used. The students
watched one episode of the show for about 22 minutes during the second hour of the class each
Procedure of the Vocabulary Activity
Step 1: Watch the Sitcom
To start the activity, the teacher plays the DVD with English subtitles and allows students to
watch the show on their own computer screens. While watching the DVD, each of the students
is required to jot down at least three English words or phrases that they want to learn from the
show. Therefore, while some students may pick out all the vocabulary, others may want to
watch the show more relaxingly and pick up just three new words.
Step 2: List the Vocabulary
After watching the DVD, the students are asked to volunteer to list on the board the vocabulary
words they picked from the show. To facilitate this, the teacher divides the students into halves
(left and right) and draws two vertical lines to divide the board into three portions (left, middle
and right). The students who sit on the left-hand side of the classroom write their vocabulary on
the left portion of the board whereas those at the right write theirs on the right. The middle
portion of the board is for the teacher to select vocabulary from the students' for a follow-up
Step 3: Discuss the Vocabulary
The teacher then chooses five words from the left side of the board and the other five from the
right side. Sometimes, the teacher lets each side choose some of the vocabulary. These ten
vocabulary words will then be discussed as a whole class according to their meanings in the
context of the situation comedy. These vocabulary words will be tested in both the mid-term and
This sitcom provided students with a good source of vocabulary and the students learned more
than 30 vocabulary words from each episode. There are many good words that the students are
not exposed to in textbooks such as "lollipop", "jumble", and "unanimous". This sitcom activity
can help the students to become more active in language learning and may lead to the
development of learner autonomy (see Holec, 1981; Boud, 1988; Little, 1991; Wenden, 1991;
Dam, 1995; Benson, 2001; Chiu, 2006).
Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning. Harlow:
Boud, D. (1988). Developing Student Autonomy in Learning. New York: Kogan Press.
Chiu, C. Y. (2006). Autonomy and language learning: two ideas in search of a definition.
Proceedings of 2006 Taiwan TESL Conference. Yunlin, Taiwan.
Dam, L. (1995). Learner Autonomy3: from Theory to Classroom Practice. Dublin: Authentik.
Little, D. (1991). Learner Autonomy 1: Definitions, Issues and Problems. Dublin: Authentik.
Wenden, A. (1991). Learner Strategies for Learner Autonomy. London: Prentice Hall
Sample Vocabulary Test
Please fill in the most appropriate item from the list of vocabulary below.
a. convert; b. jumbled; c. standard deviation; d. petit four; e. reciprocation
( ) 1. I like to eat ________ because it is so delicious.
( ) 2. George's IQ is one ________ higher than Mary's.
( ) 3. The results of the IQ test was ______ , and Mary is the smarter one.
( ) 4. A woman wants to be nurturing but if there is no ___________ from men , it
can lead to resentment.
( ) 5. Why do people who _____________ try to drag everyone along with them