Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: The Troll by T. H. White

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

Vocabulary

Here is a matching exercise for some of the more difficult vocabulary in the story. Have the students complete the exercise in pairs.

a. Ungainly 1. the back of a boat
b. Blurry 2. A mental institute
c. Beside the point 3. clumsy / moving without grace
d. A bog 4. to squeeze material to extract water
e. To ford 5. to begin to deal with a problem in a sensible way
f. Bow 6. dry and wrinkled
g. To wring out 7. irrelevant
h. Stern 8. the front of a boat
i. To come / get to grips with something 9. To designate for a specific purpose
j. Wizened 10. To cross a river
k. To earmark st 11. unfocused
l. Loony-bin 12. a wet, muddy area of ground

Here you can download the table to print:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!358&authkey=!AOgTwYv1J95mH4E

Here are the answers:

  • a – 3
  • b – 11
  • c – 7
  • d – 12
  • e – 10
  • f – 8
  • g – 4
  • h – 1
  • i – 5
  • j – 6
  • k – 9
  • l – 2

Here are the locations of the words in the text and some sentence examples:

  • ungainly – bottom of pg 346
  • blurry – actual reference is blurring at the bottom of pg 347
  • beside the point – middle of pg 348, other sentences example: “He is a nice man, but that’s beside the point; he’s rubbish at his job.”
  • bog – bottom of 348
  • to ford – bottom of 348
  • bow – bottom of 348 in relation to a “bow wave”
  • stern – isn’t in the text but is a counterpoint to “bow”
  • to wring out – top of 349, wring is irregular – wring wrung wrung.
  • come to grips with something – middle of 351, other sentence examples: “We must all get to grips with this tragedy” “If you are going to be an executive you need to get to grips with your fear of public speaking.”
  • wizened – middle of 351
  • to earmark st – bottom of 351, other sentence example: “this money is earmarked for the Christmas party”

Ask students for any other vocab issues they have.

Discussion Questions

Discuss these questions in groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What does the troll represent?
  3. Why does the story have a framing device? (a story within a story) What does it add to the story?
  4. Some analysts say the story is religious, the character’s latent Christianity defeating the Troll, do you agree?
  5. What do you think of the gory imagery of the troll?
  6. How do you explain the ending?
  7. What other mythical creatures can you think of? (vampires, werewolves, zombies etc.)
  8. Why do you think these monsters are so popular? Why do people keep writing stories about them?
  9. Which ones frightened you most as a child? Which ones still scare you now?
  10. What do you think are the origins of these creatures?
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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.

 

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: Nuns at Luncheon by Aldous Huxley

eating nuns

 

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

Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the story about?
  2. How did it make you feel?
  3. The story uses a framing device (a story within a story), what effect does this have?
  4. What happens in the story of the nun?
  5. Why does the nun run away with the man? For love? Or to save his soul?
  6. What does the story say about our fascination with tragedy?
  7. 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.)
  8. Do you think the media exploits other people’s tragedies for higher viewing figures? Can you think of any examples? (Oscar Pistorius trial)
  9. Based on the events in the story and the repeated scandals involving priests do you think that celibacy is realistic in today’s society?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 3, The Water Cell

persepolis pic

This is the third in a series of posts based around the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I am reading through the book with several groups of ESL students. Each week we go over new vocabulary that arises and have a short discussion based on any issues that come up.

Vocabulary

There are several vocab points that came up from this chapter:

a putsch = a coup

to overthrow = to remove a government from power

proof = noun from verb “to prove”

westerner = person from the west, also northerner, southerner, easterner.

illiterate = someone who cannot read or write

vast = very big

nevertheless = 1 use as a contrast linker like “however” or another use is as a synonym of “anyway”

entourage = group of people who accompany and support a person

the rabble = a disorganised group of people, here referring to the workers

to rule = to govern

to be sidetracked = to be distracted or prevented from doing something

wrinkled = with fold lines

Discussion Questions

  1. What happened in this chapter?
  2. What was your reaction to it?
  3. What new information do we learn in this chapter?
  4. How aware were people of British involvement in regime change at the time?
  5. Were your country’s government involved in anything similar?
  6. Do you think this type of interference still happens today?
  7. How have the tactics and strategies changed?
  8. On the opening page we see the police’s heavy-handed response to the demonstrations, are the police heavy-handed in your country? What was the governments reaction to the last big demonstration in your country?

Next week chapter 4: Persepolis

Posted in Conversation Classes

The University of Life

univesitylife

This is a conversation class for adults (B1-C2) based around the idea of valuable life experiences.

You will need these life experiences flashcards:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!334&authkey=!AGxRdJiqzLdNvCI

First put “The University of Life” on the board and ask the students what they think it means. Have the flashcards cut up. Put students in small groups (3-4) and give them the flashcards one at a time. Encourage them to discuss the following for each card:

What have you learnt from this life experience? If you haven’t had this experience, speculate about what you could learn from it.

Once they have discussed all the flashcards tell students to think of 2 more life experiences that have taught them a lot. They should then share them with the rest of the class.

Tell students to try and put the life experiences in order to value in terms of experience and self improvement gained.

Now tell students to think about the ways in which each of the life experiences are viewed by potential employers. Encourage them to think of both good and bad interpretations. For example with travelling a potential employer could think that you are more open-minded and have a better understanding of different cultures. On the other hand, they might think that you only want the job to save money for another trip.

Here is a list of the life experiences:

  1. Moving out of your parent’s house.
  2. Going to university
  3. Travelling
  4. Supporting yourself financially
  5. Getting married
  6. Living with your partner
  7. Having children
  8. Having teenage children
  9. Being seriously ill
  10. Being your own boss

The role-play from my class on jobs and career paths also works well with this topic.

A possible homework assignment based around this topic could be a short composition in which students explain what they have learnt from one of the life experiences in the list.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes

Horse Meat Scandal Conversation Class

horse

Yum! Horse Lasagne

This is a conversation class for adults or mature teens based around the horse meat scandal currently rocking Europe. To download the handout click here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!333&authkey=!ADTef9TDO926cuw

For higher levels here is a section of an article from the Guardian about how the scandal has changed people’s shopping habits:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!341&authkey=!ACFKTje39yjAdBg

Split the class into small groups (3-4) and give out the handout. Students discuss the questions and then feed back to the rest of the class. Some vocabulary might need to be pre-taught, for example “a nanny-state”. Here are the questions from the handout.

What do you know about the horse meat scandal? Share your knowledge with your group.

Do you think it has affected you? Have you eaten any ready meals recently? Or Ikea meat balls?

Does the story surprise you?

How long do you think it has been going on?

“In France horse is a delicacy, I don’t understand all the fuss.” What do you think of this statement?

Are there any types of food you avoid because you are worried about the quality of the ingredients? Sausages, hamburgers, kebabs etc.

How closely do you monitor the food you eat? Do you read the ingredients on the packets? Do you count calories?

Do you think ingredients should be displayed in a different way? A traffic light system for example.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that scandals like this don’t happen?

“I don’t care what’s in it as long as it tastes good.” How far do you agree with this statement? Do you think most people agree or disagree with this statement?

Do you think that your country has a “nanny state”? (a government that interferes too much in the way you live your life)

What elements of people’s lifestyle should be controlled by the state? If any.

freeenglishlessonplans.com