One of the original features of the Beyond secondary course that I've been working on over the past couple of years can be found on the Speaking pages in each unit. All of the model conversations and situations on these pages are presented by a group of teenage drama students. There's a different group for each of the six levels and each group has 10 members, reflecting the ages of the students using the course. The drama group kids perform the scenes as if they're in a drama workshop with a few basic props. In fact, we've shot the videos at the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford, using the main stage as well as the studios and other parts of the building, giving the videos an authentic drama group feel.
Teachers can use these videos in class or use the audio in class and encourage students to watch the videos at home. One of the main reasons for doing the videos in this way has been to reflect the classroom situation in which we often ask students to role-play scenes or read out conversations. In a way, we're asking our students to bring drama into the classroom as if in a drama workshop. So watching other kids trying to do the same task on video can really boost their confidence.
This past week we filmed the videos for A2 level and the kids were fantastic. It's also been great working with Clark Wiseman and his team at Studio 8. Clark is really good at making the kids feel relaxed. It's not easy acting in front of several cameras with a sound recordist holding a boom microphone over your head, Macmillan editors telling you what to do (not to mention the course authors).
It'll be really interesting to see how teachers and students react to these videos in the real world. Not long to wait!