Ads (both print and TV) can be a helpful tool to teach and learn languages because businesses want you to remember their product or service. That’s why they use a whole range of strategies, to make an impact on potential buyers. In the field of language learning, we can use those strategies to our advantage, to help us remember key vocabulary/collocations, and associate pictures with words.

First of all, TV ads tend to be short, so the same ad can be watched several times, and at different points in time, to reinforce relevant vocabulary as well as pay attention to stress and pronunciation.

On top of that, they create a context, or a short fiction: that context may be helpful to remember dialogues, slogans…

Last but not least, advertising campaigns tend to have a catchy slogan, sometimes playing with alliteration or rhyme, which can help us remember words/expressions. Besides, the same slogan is used over and over again.

These websites can be useful for both teachers and students as resources:

  • Comprehensive website for UK TV ads since 2006 (although it does have some vintage ads as well). It tends to be updated daily. You can search by brand name (alphabetically), or just have a look at the 20 most recent ads.
  • You can also use

World ads:

Some of my favourite TV ads:

Specsavers (Opticians)- Should’ve gone to Specsavers (a good way to practise perfect infinitives with modal verbs)

Sainsbury’s- Mog’s Christmas Calamity

An activity I’ve done several times is to play some ads to students: then, ask them to identify certain strategies which feature frequently in ads, as well as write down interesting or relevant vocabulary and collocations.

Exercise- associate ad- strategy used – vocabulary

The objective is twofold: Students are expected to be able to analyse the kind of persuasive strategies and language that advertising uses to entice consumers into buying; later, they are asked to write and perform their own ads, using some of those strategies, and trying to use language they have seen in the ads.

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