Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Listening Classes, Reading Classes

C1: Halloween Special – Spoopy Season

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito just in time for Halloween. This lesson plan is for C1 students. They will discover the spooky origins of the jack-o-lantern and then learn about the new phenomenon of “spoopy” by doing a gapped text reading exercise. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

  1. What are the similarities and differences between these two images?
  • Which of these images do you find the spookiest?
  1. Listening (Part 2) VIDEO – The Messed Up Origins™ of Jack-o’-Lanterns

Watch the video (x2) until 5:17 and fill the gaps (1 to 3 words):

  1. Once you think about the name “Jack-o’-lantern”, it becomes evident that this tradition comes from ____________.
  2. Stingy Jack’s personal qualities made the devil ____________.
  3. On his way home Jack saw _______________ on the ground.
  4. The mutilated corpse’s voice was _____________ Satan himself.
  5. The devil was surprised by Jack’s ______________.
  6. Jack prevented the devil from climbing down the tree by surrounding it with ___________.
  7. The devil gave Jack a glowing ember as a _____________.
  8. According to the legend, Jack walks around _____________________ on October 31st.
  • Reading and Use of English (Part 7)

Read the text and choose the correct paragraph from [A]-[G] to fill in the gaps [1]-[6]. There is one extra paragraph, which you do not need to use.

ADAPTED FROM CULTURE DESK – San Francisco Chronicle

What is spoopy? Your guide to the Internet’s favorite Halloween aesthetic

For the past few years, October has not only heralded the return of Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes, it has also marked the dawning of spoopy season. For a small group of people who belong in the center of a Venn diagram of mellowed-out goths and the “extremely online,” the spoopy aesthetic has become a source of joy and comfort in turbulent times.

[1]

“Spookiness is campy, but spoopiness is campy in a very specific way,” says John Paul Brammer, a New York City writer and advice columnist whose popular memes about the demonic goat from the movie “The Witch” are more of the former. “Spoopy’s whole thing is that it is not frightening. It’s not threatening, not arcane, but uses the trappings of the threatening and the arcane to make the joke: OoOoOooOo!!! SpoooOOoooOOooky!!”

[2]

Its origin is much more straightforward than its meaning. In 2009, the word was spotted on a skeleton-theme sign displayed at a Ross Dress For Less store. Though its ascent took some time, the term gained popularity on niche social media communities like Tumblr until it finally reached escape velocity to spread even further.

[3]

Though it might seem random, the delight of this sort of banal creepiness stems from the desire to look an object of fear in the eye — and laugh.

[4]

In political discourse, Prevas points to anti-transgender activists using the image of Frankenstein’s monster to demonize transgender people. Historically, monsters have often stood in for types of people who were undesirable: racial minorities, immigrants, queer people, anyone outside the “normal.” “I love the unsettling part of (spoopiness),” Prevas says, “that disconnect between seeing the creatures which we expect to see in a horror scenario in a perfectly quotidian scene.”

[5]

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it resonates so well right now, at a time when marginalized people’s status feels extremely fraught and political rhetoric insists on estranging us from polite society. This aesthetic defies the imperative to be afraid: Instead, we embrace the monsters as part of ourselves, as neighbours. To let the monster out is, in a sense, letting oneself out. 

[6]

When we look at the skeleton riding a bike, it almost feels aspirational: This is what life could look like if our cloistered selves were set free. As it turns out, spoopiness might be just what we need right now.

[A] Because I’m a restaurant critic, my gauge of whether or not something has hit the mainstream is “The Great British Bake-Off.” In the 10th season, currently airing on the British Channel 4 and Netflix, Spanish contestant Helena Garcia has emerged as a fan favourite thanks to her memorably macabre but cute creations like a chocolate orange tarantula flanked by macadamia nut spider eggs, eldritch horror pies and bloody green “witch finger” biscuits.

[B] What is “spoopy”? It’s the coupling of wildly absurdist humour with terror — an aesthetic unto itself that, like camp, can be hard to articulate.

[C] Spoopy is a reclamation and reframing of these monsters, a mind-set that boasts, “You say I should be scared of this? Hilarious!”

[D] In fables and literary fiction, monsters are the embodiments of everything that society represses: a “warning system” of sorts, says Christine Prevas, a Columbia University Ph.D. candidate whose research focuses on applying queer theory to contemporary horror. The monster is a taboo made flesh: A prepubescent girl turned foul-mouthed, vomiting demon in “The Exorcist”; a bad sexual encounter run amok in “It Follows.”

[E] When I look at this stuff, it reminds me of how I like to “watch” horror movies by reading their plot summaries on Wikipedia: a digital version of peeking at Medusa’s face by holding up a mirror.

[F] This disruption of the narrative of otherness mirrors the way people actually want to be seen. For instance, queer people can be queer outside of designated contexts like gay bars and the privacy of one’s bedroom, Prevas says. “We’re also queer in the grocery store. We’re also queer on a bicycle.”

[G] Much easier than defining it is sorting through what is and isn’t spoopy. As a start, think of it as friendly and somewhat sarcastic horror: A skeleton isn’t, but a skeleton riding a bike? Definitely spoopy. The Babadook isn’t, but the memes that claim that the monster is a proud gay man? Super spoopy.

  • Language focus (15 min)
  1. Vocabulary

Look at the words in bold in the text and discuss the meaning with a partner:

Former 
Somewhat 
Spotted 
Gauge 
Embodiments 
Unsettling 
Mirrors 

Next, fill in the gaps with the vocabulary words in the correct form to fit the context:

  • Jack saw a mutilated corpse with a(n) _____________  look on its face.
  • His mood ___________ the gloomy weather on that Halloween night.
  • Between risking being tricked and facing Jack’s grumbling stomach for the rest of the trip, the devil chose the _________.
  • Some consider him the very _____________ of evil.
  • The devil was ____________ confused by Jack’s request to pay the bill at the bar.
  • Jack ___________ a mutilated corpse on the ground on his way home from the bar.
USEFUL CHUNKSUse the trappings of (sth) Stem from Run amok In a sense
  • After Jack __________ the level of danger he was in, he decided to trap the devil by using crosses.
Posted in B2 First, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Listening Classes

B2: Halloween Special – Spoopy Season

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito just in time for Halloween! Students learn about the concert of spoopy vs spooky things and the history of the jack-o-lantern. Download the handouts below:

  1. Describe the images and discuss:
  2. What are the similarities and differences between these two images?
  • Which of these images do you find the spookiest?
  • Reading and Use of English (Part 2)

Adapted from Merriam Webster – Words We’re Watching

The Inside Poop On ‘Spoopy’

Spoopy might startle people, especially around Halloween season. Perhaps it’s the resemblance (1) ______ spooky, which could lead you to believe the formation is nothing more (2) ______ a jaw-dropping typo. Or it could also be that it has poopy in it, which makes the spelling amusing to people (3) ______ enjoy bodily humour. This Internet sensation’s origin was a comical misspelling of the adjective spooky spotted on a department store’s Halloween sign written in a “skeletal” font and photographed. The image was (4) ______ uploaded to the Internet; in short order, spoopy (5) ______ viral. Essentially, the word is used to describe something that typically would be spooky, (6) ______ an image of a skeleton or ghost, but is actually rather comical. The word has other connotations (7) ______ well: it is sometimes used for things that are intended to be spooky but simply fail to scare, or it could describe something that blends cuteness (8) ______ spookiness in a grotesque way.

Watch the video (x2) until 5:17 and answer the following questions:

  1. According to the Youtuber’s previous views, why did people carve pumpkins?
    1. Because they wanted to scare others
    1. Because they didn’t like the taste of pumpkins
    1. Because there were too many pumpkins
  2. Why did the devil go to see Stingy Jack?
    1. To take him to hell
    1. So that he could have some drinks with him
    1. Because he admired him
  3. How did Stingy Jack avoid going to hell the first time?
    1. He trapped the devil in a silver cross
    1. He trapped the devil in his pocket
    1. He left the bar while the devil was paying
  4. Why did the devil climb up a tree?
    1. Because Jack was hungry
    1. Because he was hungry
    1. Because Jack threatened him with crosses
  5. The reason Jack wasn’t allowed in hell was…
    1. He wasn’t evil
    1. He made a deal with the devil
    1. God prohibited him from entering
  6. What does the legend say?
    1. That Jack is happy because he escaped hell
    1. Jack wanders through purgatory with a pumpkin
    1. Jack’s spirit appears in marshes on October 31st
  • Language focus

Watch the video again, complete the sentences below and match the words to their meanings:

  1. Well, it ___________ I was wrong about two things.
  2. A voice comes out ___________ to be Satan himself.
  3. Just ________ yourself ________ a silver coin.
  4. Jack’s soul was sent down to hell where the devil was _________ waiting.
  5. Was cursed to spend eternity __________ through the darkness or purgatory.
  6. Wandering aimlessly through the forests and ____________
Turns outWalking around slowly with no clear purpose or direction
ClaimingIn a way that shows a strong desire to do or have something
Turn (sth/sb) intoSaying that something is true or a fact
EagerlyTo be known or discovered finally and surprisingly
WanderingGround near a lake, a river, or the sea that is always wet
MarshesTo change, transform or develop from one thing to another
USEFUL IDIOMSTo be taken off guard The lesser of two evils
Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod Episode 52: Pride Month Special – The Wonderful World of Drag

Image credit: Mark Wilding

For episode 52 we spoke to Oscar/Lana Vuli a drag performer based in Barcelona. We spoke about his/her route into drag performance and experiences performing live and on the Youtube Channel “Science Queers”. You’ll find a link to the channel below.

It was a great episode and a really enjoyable interview, we hope you like it!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWR22076Osunb7hiTHfhr1Q

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 51 – Book Club – Thursday Murder Club Part 7

Don’t you just love a 2 episode week? We’re back with episode 51 continuing our book club series on Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club.

In this episode we talk about chapters 32-40; we discuss the things that happen, our favourite parts and examine some interesting vocabulary that comes up.

Why not read and listen along? Or, if you’re a teacher, encourage your students to do so.

Listen on SoundCloud:

Or, alternatively, listen on Spotify:

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Reading Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 50!!! Book Club – Thursday Murder Club Part 6

Image credit: Mark Wilding

We’ve made it to 50 episodes! Thanks to all our listeners for your continued support, we ❤️ you all!


In episode 50 we’re pressing on with Richard Osman’s wonderful debut novel The Thursday Murder Club, chapters 24-31.

Why not get your students to listen and read along?

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Campaigns, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Green Movements in ELT Part 2

Part 2 of our 2 part series on green movements in ELT is now live on the SoundCloud page.

Tim spoke to Colm Downes from the British Council’s Climate Action in Language Education department and Daniel Barber from ELT Footprint about the great work their organisations are doing to raise awareness of issues surrounding the climate crisis and drive change in the industry and wider society in general. Check it out!

If you want any further information about the movements and the topics discussed, take a look at the links below:

Colm Downes – British Council – Climate Action in Language Education

Website: https://www.britishcouncil.org/climate-connection/get-involved/action-language-education

The Climate Connection Podcast: https://www.britishcouncil.cn/en/teach/climate-connection/CALE/podcast


Daniel Barber – ELT Footprint Worldwide

Website: https://eltfootprint.org/

Twitter: @ELTfootprint

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/eltfootprint

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Campaigns, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Green Movements in ELT Part 1

Part 1 of our climate special on green movements in ELT is now live on our SoundCloud page.

We spoke to Harry Waters from Renewable English and Chris Etchells and Johanna Stirling from ELT Footprint UK about the great work their organisations are doing to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and strive towards a greener future!

Listen to the episode and then follow the links below to get involved in the movements!

Harry Waters – Renewable English
Website: renewableenglish.com/
Twitter: @Renewablenglish
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Renewable-English-100488502126874

Johanna Stirling & Christopher Etchells – ELT Footprint UK
Website: eltfootprint.uk/
Twitter: @ELTFootprintUK

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Proficiency

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 47 – The Unluckiest People in the World

NEW EPISODE! In Episode 47 Tim & Katy tell stories of some of the unluckiest people to have ever lived! Which one do you think is the unluckiest?

This great lesson plan by Alice at Hot Take English is based around one of the hard luck stories from this episode; why not set the podcast for homework and then use the lesson plan in the following class?

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Book Club – The Thursday Murder Club – Episode 5

This is part 5 in our book club series on Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. In this episode we look at chapters 18-23, discuss the things that happen and dig into some of the vocabulary.

Why not encourage your high level students to read and listen along with us? You’ll find the other 4 episodes on our SoundCloud page.

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 45 – Shopping

After a bit of an unexpected hiatus, we are back with a new episode of 2Ts in a Pod on the topic of shopping!

We understand how important it is to release podcast episodes on a regular basis and following a more regular timetable so we’re endeavouring to turn over a new leaf! You can expect more episodes soon! We’ve got 3 more in the can already!