This a series of posts for proficiency level students based around short stories taken from “The Oxford Book of Short Stories” edited by A.S Byatt.
This lesson plan is based on “Nuns at Luncheon” by Aldous Huxley. Start by addressing any vocabulary issues the students might have.There is a lot of new vocabulary in this story so try to keep this section as brief as possible to leave time for the discussion. Here is a brief run down of some things that might need explaining.
a hare – a kind of large rabbit
a mixed grill – a plate of assorted types of grilled meat
gaudy / gaudily – tasteless, lots of bright colours
to wriggle out of st – to escape from a responsibility – my students try to wriggle out of doing their homework
to talk shop – to talk about your job / studies during free time
gallows – the place where people are hanged (see also gallows humour)
the plot thickens – expression meaning that something becomes more complicated or interesting
to harness – to capture and use the power of something – windmills harness the power of the wind
folly – stupidity
the coast is clear – expression meaning nobody is watching
to rule with an iron rod – to be very strict
chaste – pure / innocent
to shuffle off this mortal coil – expression from Shakespeare’s Hamlet meaning to die.
to wallow – to immerse yourself in something, usually in something bad – pigs and hippos wallow in mud, people sometimes wallow in self-pity.
to savour something – to enjoy something and try and make it last longer
the Norns – Nordic goddesses of destiny
sullen – moody, sad
to gloat – to show a lot of self-satisfaction about something, usually at someone else’s expense.
to trudge / to tramp – to walk with heavy feet as if you are tired
dingy – badly lit, dirty
- What’s the story about?
- How did it make you feel?
- The story uses a framing device (a story within a story), what effect does this have?
- What happens in the story of the nun?
- Why does the nun run away with the man? For love? Or to save his soul?
- What does the story say about our fascination with tragedy?
- In English we have the expression “car crash TV /cinema” what do you think it means? (shows or films that deliberately show disturbing material to get a reaction or higher viewing figures.)
- Do you think the media exploits other people’s tragedies for higher viewing figures? Can you think of any examples? (Oscar Pistorius trial)
- Based on the events in the story and the repeated scandals involving priests do you think that celibacy is realistic in today’s society?