This is the latest in a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories edited by A. S. Byatt. This one is based on “An Englishman’s Home” by Evelyn Waugh, you can read the story for free here:
As with the other plans in this series, students read the story for homework and then bring any vocabulary queries or new words they discover to class. Start by asking for these queries. Here are some pieces of vocabulary that might come up in class:
I opened the class by teaching the following 2 expressions: “An Englishman’s home is his castle” and “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) two expressions which neatly sum up the various themes in the story.
aphorisms (page 295) = sayings / idioms
to wreak stark havoc (296) = to cause chaos
ha-ha (296) = a type of fence built at the bottom of a ditch so that it’s not visible from the house’s windows
Crown Derby (297) = A type of expensive ceramic, plates etc.
impecunious (297) = poor, no money
to pull your weight (298) = to do your share of communal work
to eschew (298) = to avoid
The Peace Ballot (298) = a national survey carried out in 1934-35
jerry builders (302) = cheap unskilled builders
to put / pull a fast one over on somebody (309) = to trick / cheat somebody
to mope (309) = to complain and be worried about something
to fret (309) = to be worried and nervous
- What happens in the story?
- What do you think of the characters?
- What does the story say about people?
- Does anybody come out of it looking good?
- The story talks a lot about manners and maintaining appearances, do you think these things are as important in your country?
- We see Mr. Metcalf trying to follow the instructions on how to live as a country gentleman should. Do you think lots of people act like this in real life? Do they try to act as society expects them to act? Can you think of any examples?
- The story reflects English village life very accurately, can you see parallels with villages in your country?
- What does the expression NIMBY mean? Do you see examples of NIMBY attitudes in your country? Can you think of any examples?
- In the book we see the residents of the village cheated out of their money, what other similar confidence scams and tricks can you think of?
Students may be interested to read about the life of the writer Evelyn Waugh, here is his wikipedia.
His most famous book “Brideshead Revisited” has been adapted for the screen twice, the 1981 small screen mini series garnered an excellent response from critics.