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Sitcom activity: commentary
You will need access to a few sitcom clips. These can be clips from the same sitcom (especially if you are using a DVD or video) or they can be from different sitcoms if you are using www.youtube.com. For a comprehensive list of UK sitcoms go to http://www.sitcom.co.uk/list_top.shtml
- Make sure that everybody understands what a commentary is (a verbal description of what is happening at a given moment) and elicit occasions of when it is used (usually in sporting activities like football matches or athletics there is a commentator explaining the action).
- Tell the students you are going to play a clip of a sitcom and one partner is going to watch what is happening and give a commentary to his or her partner.
- Divide the class into pairs: A and B. A students should be positioned facing the screen so they can watch the clip. B students should sit facing their partner with their backs to the screen.
- Explain that B students must not look at the screen. A students have to watch the clip and give a commentary to their partners. They have to explain where the action is taking place and what the characters look like, what they are wearing, doing, etc.
- They should try to give as much information as possible. For lower levels you can provide some language input on the board by writing some of the key vocabulary in advance or some structures that they can use, such as he seems to be angry / excited / nervous, etc.
- When the clip finishes play the clip again for the B students to check that they have understood their partners' commentaries. Then get A and B students to exchange roles and repeat the activity with a different clip.
This activity works best without sound but you can try it with sound too, depending on the number of students in your class. With smaller classes it is possible to have the sound on but with bigger classes there might be too much noise in the room for it to be effective.