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Real English Video Review

Editor's Note: The Real English Video was reviewed by Mark Ellison Taylor, EFLWEB, who has given his kind permission to publish this review on Volterre-Fr.

Real English logo REVIEW:

The Real English Video Course
by The Marzio School

New ways of teaching English as a Foreign Language are sought after by many good teachers. The Marzio Schools's Real English series of videos will undoubtedly be a popular choice.

The Marzio School work from the premise that

"Classroom English is all too often 'perfect' - slow short phrases spoken by teachers....This is fine until we actually meet genuine Anglo-saxons, to discover that nobody, in the real world, speaks 'classroom English"

It is for this reason that Mike Marzio and his interviewers went out into the real world and found real world people to speak their Real English for them. Passers-by, tourists, businessmen and children on the streets of New York, London and Dublin are all interviewed. The collection of responses is an effective and entertaining tool for the classroom. Changing accents and the good humour of both interviewer and interviewee ensure that the sequences are always engaging. Even teachers will find it entertaining...I laughed at some of the exchanges anyway.

The complete Real English set contains 3 separate videos, each created by Mike Marzio and Charlie Mc Bride. For each video there is a teachers Video Workbook, written by Helen King and Mike Marzio. These are printed in black and white so that teachers can photocopy the exercises for students. The exercises relate to the sequences on video. All three books use clip-art pictures to enhance the exercises. Transcripts of the videos are also contained at the back of each book. Colour versions of the books, containing more exercise material, are being prepared and will be released soon.

The Marzio School have designed the scheme so that it can be used with or without a teacher - as part of a teaching curriculum, or at home, for self-teaching.

The instructions in the front of each book, ask you to watch each sequence 2 or 3 times and then complete the corresponding exercise in the book. Each sequence contains several interviews. If you have problems understanding the sequences you are directed to watch the video again, pausing after each interview you have not understood. Once completed, you can check your answers in the back of the book. To verify further that you have understood what has been said, you can follow the transcript to the video.

Video 1 for beginners is 38 minutes long and contains 14 sequences. Hi; Name; ABC; From; How Old; Married; Job; Liberty Street; Colour; This is; Time; Weather; Astrological sign; Five Nationalities and Bye. These provide practice of Greetings, possessive adjectives, the alphabet, addresses and telephone numbers, possessive pronouns, the weather, maps, and adjectives describing people.

The sequence on 'How Old' provides a typical example of an exchange,

Interviewer: "Hi Michael "
Rene: "Say 'Hi' to this lady.
Interviewer: "Hi. How old are you Michael ?"
Michael: "Two."
Interviewer: "You're two ?"


Interviewer: "How old are you ?"
Martin: "I'm 28"
Interviewer: "And you ?"
Ulrike: "32."

This question is repeated to other interviewees. All have their own way of responding to the question, in their own accents. By using so many different types of people, a student will begin to appreciate that there are correct yet different ways of answering it. A problem with classroom based teaching is the absence of this type of variety. If an English student cannot understand the language outside the classroom because they have become so familiar with the accents of their own teacher, the course has failed. This series meets this requirement by bringing practice with real people to the classroom.

The videos are broken up with musical interludes - Folk-ish guitar songs that often lead nicely into each new sequence. The sequence number and title also appear on screen. This makes finding your place in the video easy if you plan to use parts of it over the course of a term. Visual landmarks are also well used. In one interview in the exercise on 'Time', you can clearly see the time on Big Ben. A New York Cop is asked his name in a bustling New York street. The screen changes colour appropriately as interviewees are asked about their favourite colour. Pictures of star signs are shown during the 'Astrological sign' sequence.

For the most part the same people are used to give different responses for each sequence. One begins to warm to the idiosyncrasies of each. By the end of the video, I was waiting to see how certain characters would react to different questions put to them.

The second video in the series is, at 32 minutes, slightly shorter in running time than its companions. It contains 15 sequences. These include Doing; Wearing; Going to a place; Can you play; Can you cook; What else can you do; Directions 'lost in England'; Have got; Do you have...?; Do (work); Do (fun); Time and frequency; Live; Like; How long does it take; Bath; and Think of English. These provide practice of the present continuous, Can, Directions, and the present simple. Pictures of maps of cities or countries are used skilfully to identify the site of each place in the 'Live' exercise.

The 38 minute Video 3 contains 21 sequences including Like to do; Like doing; Going to do; Born; Good at school ?; Yesterday; When did you meet ?; When you left school ?; Used to do; Comparatives; Superlatives; The most beautiful language; Have done; For / Since; Abroad; Have been / Did; Have been doing; Best Year; If you won...?; Achieve and Coincidence. These provide practice of the simple past and the present perfect.

To prevent these fast paced interviews from dulling the senses, humour is introduced. There are a few visual jokes, for example, when the interviewer attempts to illicit a response from a vagrant holding a beer. My favourite sequence had the interviewer walk up to unsuspecting interviewees and ask 'What are you doing ?' in the Doing Exercise of Video 2. The friendly tone is helped also by the often merry attitude of the interviewees themselves. Not an unhappy soul in the place. This makes all three videos attractive to watch. The use of interviewees from several non-English speaking countries will help an EFL student to identify with them.

All three videos are well produced by the Marzio School. Often they are edited to highlight the contrast between nationalities. The archetypal British gentleman is followed by young American tourists, a German is followed by a French shopper.

Usefully they come in VHS Pal, Secam and NTSC. So wherever you are in the World, there should be a version just for you. My only gripe of the whole series was this. Each video is topped by a team of cheering cheer-leaders - cheering the Real English method. Not only did this make me cringe, the sequence was of a poorer production standard than the rest. However, The Marzio School's Real English videos are, without question, extremely useful resources for any EFL teacher's bag of tricks.

Mark Ellison-Taylor

The Real English videos can be purchased individually from Real English

For further details contact Mike Marzio at:

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