Video Activity by Julia Pearson 


Here is an idea I adapted from an article I found on the internet. All you need is a clip showing a one-sided telephone conversation. The example below is taken from the video ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ but it can be adapted to any one-sided conversation. 

Material:  Transcript of the one-sided dialogue. 


Stage 1 

Pre-teach or revise the exponents of suggesting: 

How about ... What about ... Shall we ... Would you like to... Why don’t we ... Let’s ... 


Stage 2 

1. Ask the students if they have seen the video ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and if they have elicit a brief outline of the story. If not give them a synopsis yourself. Brief them of the circumstances leading up to the scene they are about to see. (See synopsis below)

2. Show the video clip of the Sam’s side of the telephone conversation. (It is 90 seconds long) 

3. Pass out the written version of the dialogue (see below). Show the video clip again. 

4. Put students into small groups. Elicit that Victoria seems to be making a lot of suggestions so must be using some of the expressions used for suggesting.  Tell them to fill in what they think Victoria’s side of the conversation might be. If they ask you the name of the restaurant, tell them to invent a name. 

5. When they have finished, show the clip again (twice if necessary)  so that the students can fine tune and make sure that their dialogue fits the timing. 

6. 2 Students from each group role play the dialogue. Remind the student playing Sam of his situation – he knows Victoria but not very well and he is not used to asking women out so he is very nervous about making this call. Victoria obviously takes charge of the conversation. 

7. One student from each group then acts out the Victoria role with the video clip. 


N.B. It might be a good idea for you to prepare a written version of Victoria’s side of the dialogue in case the students feel they want a ‘correct’ version to compare theirs with. 


Possible follow up Students can discuss the following : 

- What prompted him to make the call? 

- How does Sam feel immediately before the phone call? During the call? Immediately afterwards? 

- Have you ever been in a similar situation? 

- This is one of those “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” kind of stories. Do you have a similar story? 

- What is the significance of the song in the background? 

- What is the general opinion of Victoria? Is she pushy, or simply empathic? 

- What are some of the difficulties of being a single parent getting back into dating? 


These can be done as a written assignment, a class discussion, pairwork or group discussion. If time is limited you could choose one or two of the discussions for a subsequent lesson; students could write notes for the discussion for homework. 



Sam dials a number


Sam: Hello, Victoria? 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: This is uh, Sam Baldwin. I don’t know if you remember me, but … 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Oh, well, great. Hi … uh, I, uh, I was wondering if, uh, if, uh, you would like to have a drink with me 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Dinner? 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Dinner would be even better. 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Oh, F-Friday would be great, yeah, yeah. H-how … 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: I’ve, I heard that’s a good place, uh, how … 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: 7.30 would be, would, would be fine, and … I’ll, uh, I’ll, uh, uh 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Okay, I’ll meet you there, okay, all right. 

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Um, so, this, uh, it’s Friday, at uh, 7.30, for dinner. Great.

Victoria: ___________________________________________________________ 

Sam: Me too, ‘Bye. [Sam hangs up] 


Synopsis of the Story: Eight year old Jonah is worried about his recently widowed father Sam (Tom Hanks), and calls a radio station agony aunt. Eventually Sam is persuaded to talk on the phone and tells of his love for his dead wife and how wonderful their time together was. Annie (Meg Ryan) hears the broadcast and is so touched by it that she becomes determined to meet Sam. Unfortunately she lives in Baltimore which is on the other side of America to Seattle where Sam lives. She eventually contacts Jonah who arranges a meeting between Sam and Annie. 


Circumstances leading up to scene: Jonah has persuaded Sam to go out on a date with someone. Sam is very nervous about the whole thing and finally decides to phone Victoria whom he met very briefly sometime before. 

© Malta Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language