Paired viewing activities

Pair work can be done with any video Activity Book or Study Guide. In our earlier Activity Books we often put question sequences as a post-watching activity, which can be done in pairs.

In our later Study Guides, we avoided anything that could only be done as pair work, but many activities can be paired. For example if you’re doing Who Says It? for eight sentences, Student A can do “odds” (1,3,5,7) and Student B “evens” (2,4,6,8). This gives more thinking time during the activity, but it also sets up later interaction and sharing of information. This can be applied to almost any Study Guide work.

By Paired Activities, we mean something more elaborate than “shared exercises” or question and answer.

Paired activities take more effort in setting up, but the results justify the trouble. Note that most of these are normally used for initial viewing, before any other activities are done.

They can be used after doing other activities, but then the activity relies on memory rather than initial reaction. Both have a place in language teaching, but one is imaginative, the other more controlled. Try it both ways.

a) Description

In this activity one student in each pair turns their back to the screen. The other student faces the screen, and the video is played silently (remote control to MUTE). The student who can see the screen describes what they can see to their partner.

Both students will wish to see the action (or hear the dialogue) later.

The ‘passive’ student in each pair will be motivated to see what they have missed as well. It is worth making sure that the partners swop roles, or that the activity is done twice, with different sections so that each partner gets a chance to perform the ‘active’ role.

There are visual sequences in most video courses where the dialogue is less important, or there is no dialogue.

Try it with Section 3 of The Last Boat Leaves At 6 from A Week By The Sea.

Another example is the music only intro to English Channel One, unit 8, Robin Hood (You needn’t use mute). There are several points in English Channel where we anticipated this activity and scripted accordingly.

Sequence One: The Sheriff and Maid Marion (English Channel One)

In Robin Hood, Student A watches the sequence of the Sheriff and Marian riding through the woods and describes it to Student B, then you pause the DVD or tape (preferably covering the screen, or blanking it for the changeover).

Sequence Two: Robin Hood & Friar Tuck (English Channel One)

Then Student B watches the different scene of Robin arriving and tapping Friar Tuck on the shoulder with his sword and describes it to Student A. The first sequence ends with the Sheriff holding his sword and looking round. The second sequence starts with Robin holding his sword and creeping forward. This causes deliberate confusion when students try to explain it to each other, so they’re both keen to resolve it by watching again. (This is a major point for using videos DESIGNED for classroom activities from the very outset!)

When we tested this, we  gave students a list on the board of words they might want to use: sword, arrow, horse.

In this activity always watch and pre-plan your switch point. Ideally, there should be a change of location. There is no dialogue.

b) Narration

This is more difficult to organise, as it involves sending half the class out of the room while the remaining half watch a section of a video. When they return they are told about the video in pairs by those who saw it. (See the note above about swopping roles.) In school situations, this can be done by team teaching, and working with two parallel classes at the same time.

c) Split class: Description / Narration

Half the class is sent out. The remainder watch a section silently. Then the two halves swop places. The ones that were outside now listen to the same section with the picture covered (see: Sound only, above.) The students are then paired off. One student in each pair has SEEN the video, but hasn’t heard the dialogue. The other student has only HEARD the dialogue. They work together to piece the story together.

d) Role plays

Students can be asked to role play sequences they have seen in any videos.

We have found it more interesting to get them to role play things which are NOT seen in the video, but which they can guess from having seen the video.

Leave a Reply