Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: An Englishman’s Home by Evelyn Waugh

short stories

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:

http://novel.tingroom.com/html/29/149.html

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

Discussion Questions:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What do you think of the characters?
  3. What does the story say about people?
  4. Does anybody come out of it looking good?
  5. The story talks a lot about manners and maintaining appearances, do you think these things are as important in your country?
  6. 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?
  7. The story reflects English village life very accurately, can you see parallels with villages in your country?
  8. What does the expression NIMBY mean? Do you see examples of NIMBY attitudes in your country? Can you think of any examples?
  9. 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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Waugh

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.

 

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Posted in Conversation Classes, Games

The Interpreter: Game to practice direct / indirect questions and reported speech.

interpreter

Before you use these materials, why not check out our new podcast for learners and teachers alike? It’s called 2Ts in a Pod, have a listen here:

This is a game for upper intermediate students and upwards. The main focus is the differences in structure between direct and indirect questions, something even the highest level English speakers struggle with.

Arrange students into groups of 3. In each group you have 1 interviewer, 1 celebrity and 1 interpreter. Tell students that the interviewer and the celebrity don’t speak the same language (in fact they do, everyone must speak English during the exercise). The interviewer asks a question to the celebrity but for the celebrity to understand the question it must be “translated” into an indirect question by the interpreter. The celebrity can then answer the question but the interpreter must report his / her answer back to the interviewer in reported speech. It can get a little complicated, and careful monitoring is required but students tend to enjoy focusing on the specific grammar point in use. Here is an example of a typical exchange:

Interviewer: Where did you go to school?

Interpreter: He would like to know where you went to school.

Celebrity: I went to school in a big boarding school in the English countryside.

Interpreter: He says that he went to a big boarding school in the English countryside. OR He said that he had been to a big boarding school in the English countryside.

For lower levels encourage the interpreters to report in the present tense to make it easier. There is a lot of pressure on the interpreter, they’re basically doing all the hard grammar work, so make sure you switch roles often.

Other indirect question beginnings could be:

Could you tell us…………….

He /she is interested to know……………..

He / she was wondering……………

Remember the form for yes / no questions:

Direct: Did you like your school?

Indirect: She was wondering if you liked your school.

If students need subjects to ask and answer questions about you can use some of the following:

  1. your favourite film
  2. your first day at school
  3. what you did last weekend
  4. your favourite place in the whole world
  5. the best / worst thing about living where you live

The celebrity students can give true answers about themselves or they can invent fantastical lives for their celebrity persona.

Let me know how it goes in the comments.