About SkypeRead

What is a read-through?
What’s this got to do with remote teams that don’t work in the movie industry?
How exactly does it help teams?
Does it work?
Does it work for face-to-face teams as well as virtual teams?
Our team wants to try SkypeRead. What do we do?
External links


What is a read-through?

It’s one of the early stages in the process of making a movie. The actors — together with other key personnel such as directors, writers and producers — sit down around a large table and, very simply, read through the script. It’s sometimes called a table read.

Read-through

Photo from The Official Selena Gomez Twitter Page – @selenagomez

I asked Eddie Jemison, the actor best known for his roles in Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13, about the team-building element of read-throughs. “I think they’re really helpful,” he said. “It makes everyone realize they are all pulling for the same cause. It gives the experience shape and purpose. Without a read-through everyone is just guessing at how all the parts fit together. Plus, it’s fun and every one feels more a part of a team. And teamwork is always better than the sum of the work of individuals.”


What’s this got to do with remote teams that don’t work in the movie industry?

Because the team-building power of a Hollywood-style read-through can be applied to any group that uses English as a working language.

It’s particularly powerful for remote teams, because the read-through can be done virtually, in a Skype group call. For groups of people who work remotely, doing team-building virtually isn’t just about saving time and money — it’s about emphasising the fact that remote working can be equally or more effective than face-to-face working.

Remote-working

As Dr Marcus Hildebrandt and his colleagues explained in Closeness at a Distance: Leading Virtual Groups to High Performance, for remote teams it is important to signal that “virtuality is the reality wherein a group will work.”


How exactly does it help teams?

SkypeRead has been designed for non-native English-speakers using three principles from neuroELT, a new field that combines neuroscience and English-language teaching.

Brain

Emotion drives learning. Emotion is a fundamental part of how the brain processes information. The pressure, excitement and drama of doing a movie read-through creates a unique environment for learning, collaborating and bonding.

‘Bottom-up’ can be a powerful way to learn. In today’s world, most learning is ‘top-down’. But our brains evolved in a ‘bottom-up’ learning environment — nature does not provide classes on how to survive in the jungle! SkypeRead uses a bottom-up approach: I play the role of moderator, but the group overcomes challenges and achieves results by itself.

Good learners are risk-taking explorers. We create a ‘safe’ space where group members can take risks, push themselves and make mistakes. If we don’t make mistakes, we can’t learn from them — and the brain is very good at learning from mistakes!


Does it work?

Yes! At the end of last year we ran a pilot programme involving non-native English-speakers from 18 different countries. I presented the results at the 2013 Kansai ELT Expo (which was held at Konan University CUBE in Osaka, Japan). This is a 5-minute version of my presentation “Is doing a read-through of a movie good for non-native English-speakers?” (click here for a transcript):


Does it work for face-to-face teams as well as virtual teams?

Yes! In April 2014, I’m beginning two studies into doing movie read-throughs with face-to-face teams. One is a group of employees at a multinational company, the other is a group of students at a university (both groups are based in Japan). I’ll present the results on this web site later this year.


Our team wants to try SkypeRead. What do we do?

Please contact me! First, I’ll ask you some questions about the people in your team: who they are, how they operate, and any particular needs that you have identified. After that, I’ll put together a detailed proposal for you, including some suggestions on the most appropriate movie for the group.

A typical SkypeRead programme will involve a group of about five non-native English-speakers, and be divided into three stages:

Preparation
♦  A 1-hour, 1-to-1 Skype session between me and each member of the group
♦  The session includes an assessment of each person’s English communication skills
♦  We discuss specific ‘key areas’ for the person to focus on during the read-through
♦  Each person receives a full written summary of the session

The read-through
♦  A series of 1-hour Skype group calls
♦  Depending on the length of the movie, we read through the script in two or three sessions
♦  Each person plays a number of different characters, and I act as the moderator for the group
♦  An MP3 recording of the read-through is made available to group members

Follow-up
♦  A follow-up 1-hour, 1-to-1 Skype call between me and each member of the group
♦  We analyse specific parts of the read-through from the recording
♦  We discuss ‘practice points’ to help each person continue to develop their language skills
♦  Each person receives a full written summary of the session


External links

There are some more links related to SkypeRead, cross-border teams, movie read-throughs and neuroELT here.