Mystery Tour
Views and reviews

Two ELT video thrillers

Susan Stempleski

MYSTERY TOUR (Oxford University Press) are two video courses for adults which use the format of a television detective story. Both of them benefit from the involvement of successful ELT materials writers. They are both polished productions with atmospheric locations which provide a background to the mystery and suspense, and they present language which learners can transfer to real-life situations.

MYSTERY TOUR has been designed specifically for classroom use. Aimed at intermediate level students, the video consists of ten short (5-6 minutes) episodes and can be used as supplementary material or as the basis of a short course. The story, by detective story writer Bob Baker and adapted by Peter and Karen Viney, is set in and around Oxford. It centres on the disappearance of a tourist during a sightseeing tour. The tour guide and her boyfriend, an insurance salesman, take up the search for the missing person and soon find themselves involved with the local police, the US Air Force and a million pound robbery plot.

A wide variety of characters expose the students to a range of accents, both British and American, all relatively easy to understand. The language syllabus, ranging from a review of present tenses to more complex structures such as would have done, concentrates on reinforcing difficult items and revising structures likely to be presented in lower level courses.

Supporting materials include a student activity book and a video guide for teachers. The richly illustrated activity book provides a variety of classroom tasks based on the video itself and on related readings. Pre- and post-viewing activities for each episode are combined with storytelling based on colour skills to encourage language practice. A language reference page and a dialogue transcript are included for each episode.

Technical sophistication, good language coverage, an entertaining story and pedagogically sound supporting materials make MYSTERY TOUR an excellent choice for use in intermediate level classes.

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