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Scared Straight
Scared Straight English, baby! Video Lesson

English modal verbs and Donald Trump in a fun English lesson

Date: Dec 07 2010

Themes: Soap Opera, Work

Grammar: Modal Verbs


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

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2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

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Fear is a powerful emotion. A frightening experience can change your life and sometimes that can be a good thing. When your behavior isn’t good or you’re doing something dangerous, you can get scared straight.

The fear of your misconduct catching up to you will cause you to shape up. For instance, if a criminal almost gets caught, he or she might get scared straight and give up crime. Ella has been slacking at work. But there’s a scary surprise in store for her today. See how she reacts.

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1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.







Beren:  Whoa…

Ella:  What up?

Beren:  Are you reading US Weekly? You might want to, like, work.

Ella:  Yeah, it helps with stuff I was doing for a project.

Beren:  I didn’t want to say anything, but I heard you might be getting fired.

Ella:  What? I’m being fired? What are you talking about, fired?

Beren:  Marni is not exactly… excited about your lack of productivity. Well, you can’t be surprised!

Ella:  I work hard! This is… this is stuff we need for the website. I was just doing some research. We need this. I always work hard. I’m always reading US Weekly.

Marni:  Do you know who I am?

Ella:  No way! What the…

Marni:  I’m Donald Trump. And I’m here to tell you something. You’re fired.

Ella:  Nooo! What?

Beren:  Whoa! I’ve never seen you so productive! I’m impressed!

Ella:  Um, yeah, no… It’s just… you scared me straight, man. Scared me straight.

Beren:  I didn’t mean to scare you straight! But it’s what works for me.


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Beren notices that Ella is reading a magazine and decides to tell her a secret. She’s heard that Ella is going to get fired if she doesn’t start working harder. Actually, that’s not a secret—anyone can see Marni hasn’t been pleased with Ella. Nonetheless, Ella is surprised.

Ella puts her head on her desk in frustration and falls asleep. She dreams that Marni is actually billionaire Donald Trump, star of the TV show The Apprentice. She fires her just like Donald Trump would.

Suddenly, Ella wakes up and starts working. Beren is surprised. Ella tells her that she scared her straight. Beren says she didn’t mean to frighten her, but she’s glad she’s working.

Has a bad dream ever changed the way you act? Has fear ever caused you to improve your behavior?



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United States

When your behavior isn’t good or you’re doing something dangerous, you can get scared straight.

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06:32 AM May 07 2015 |




Hummm I’m a too self critical person…So When I realise that I’m going bad in some issue I try to be better…Besides,I try to be better as a person always! so I always try to get the critcism as constructive,I don’t let me down ;)

11:04 PM May 21 2011 |



I need someone to scared me straight. Or I think that I might get fired on someday. Cry 

03:40 PM Dec 09 2010 |



Ella is cute but I have some difficult to followe while she's talking….. I think you should firing her…. LOL

06:50 PM Dec 07 2010 |



nope neva 

02:52 PM Dec 07 2010 |




I am not slacking off ,like Ella..  

11:40 AM Dec 07 2010 |



Saudi Arabia

hooooooooooooo very nice

09:41 AM Dec 07 2010 |



United Arab Emirates

The frighten is a good way to make every one scared straight  to avoid any bad behavior. I liked the conversation and the topic.

05:16 AM Dec 07 2010 |




jejeje , poor ella.
nowadays , the company's manager use this method (Scared someone Straight) with their employees to get high scores. well this is common here in mexico. if u dont do u best , u'll dance on the rope !!!!


04:10 AM Dec 07 2010 |



It is like being frighten for something , 

03:56 AM Dec 07 2010 |

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