Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Proficiency Book Club: The Waterfall by H E Bates

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.

The Waterfall tells the story of a repressed reverend’s daughter trying to cope with the emotions and sentiments of life and love. These feelings are symbolised by the waterfall in her garden which is being renovated. The breaking of the damn and the water surging down the waterfall could symbolise the release of all her bottled up affections and feelings towards her husband and the jovial Mr. Phillips who has been staying with the family.

Download this lesson plan here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!383&authkey=!AJRdYjvoRf1OhyM

Vocabulary

First copy to the board or project the vocabulary table in the attachment above, students must try to match the new vocab to the definition.

Key: 1 – g, 2 – d, 3 – a, 4 – b, 5 – j, 6 – e, 7 – f, 8 – I, 9 – h, 10 – c.

Once they have matched the vocab give them 5 minutes to find the vocabulary in the text, make it a race, the first team to find all 10 wins.

Then discuss the following discussion questions:

Discussion Questions:

  • What happens in the story?
  • How would you describe the characters? Straight-laced. Prim and proper, repressed, damaged,
  • What does the waterfall represent?
  • How do you feel about Rose? Do you sympathise with her?
  • How do you think she feels about her new husband?
  • How do you think she feels about Phillips?
  • Do you think people are more or less emotionally repressed these days?
  • Do you think this is a good or bad thing?
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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: A Widow’s Quilt by Sylvia Townsend Warner

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 some vocab that your students might have trouble with:

page 243

  • the box – the television
  • parlour – a room in a kitchen where food is stored and prepared
  • applique quilts – patchwork quilts

page 244

  • rook – black bird and chess piece
  • blacking out curtains – heavy curtains used during world war two to block light from the windows of the houses
  • taffeta – material made from silk

245

  • to snatch – to take something from another person aggressively
  • jolt – a sudden violent movement

248

  • drudgery – a boring, difficult job
  • fidgeting / to fidget – to move comfortably and nervously
  • to thwart – to prevent the completion of something
  • a harlot – a whore / prostitute
  • to grimace – to make an angry / annoyed face

Discussion

Have your students discuss these questions in small groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. Can you describe the characters?
  3. What do you think of Charlotte?
  4. How do you think she feels in her marriage? Trapped?
  5. What do her actions say about the position of women in the time the story was written?
  6. What do you think of Everard?
  7. How do you feel for him at the end?
  8. How do you feel for Charlotte?
  9. How can you explain the ending?
  10. Charlotte takes on the challenge of making the quilt, how important is it to have challenges and things to focus your attention on in life? Different stages of life. Things to look forward to etc.
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?
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 Recommended Websites, Writing Classes

Zombie Apocalypse Training 101, with Steven Seagal

seagalandthezombies

Need help getting teenage students to produce compositions? Why not try this great warm up game from my friend Magistra Monson. The idea is you take clippings from real news stories and use them as a jumping off point for creative or argumentative writing. The class works as a team adding a paragraph each to the story with hilarious consequences. Definitely an idea I’m gonna use in my next teen class, or even with adults. You can download different introductory paragraphs from Magistra’s blog.

This has actually helped inspire a pipe dream I have for a new blog based around crowd sourced short stories. The working title at the moment is “Crowd Shorts” watch this space………………………. and pay attention to big Steve, that guys knows his onions.

freeenglishlessonplans.com

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 3: The Toys of Peace by Saki

toyspeace

This lesson is a short discussion based around “The Toys of Peace” by Saki, a short satirical story about two parents attempts to influence their young boy’s playing habits. For this series of classes I am using short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. If you don’t have a copy of the book most of the short stories are available for free online. This particular short story is available here:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/ToysPeac.shtml

As with the other lessons in this series the story is set of homework the previous week. The first 5-10 minutes of the class are spent going over any vocabulary issues. This is then followed by a discussion based on the themes and issues which arise in the story.

The author Hector Hugh Munro is considered to be one of the masters of the short story. Many of his works were published posthumously following his death in World War 1. His wikipedia page may prove useful for the class discussion:

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

After going through any vocabulary problems (there shouldn’t be many as the story only runs to 5 pages) have the students discuss the following questions, either in small groups or as a whole class:

Discussion: Toys of Peace

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What was your initial reaction to it?
  3. Describe the characters.
  4. What do you think of the parents attempt to influence their children?
  5. Do you think they are well-meaning? Or deluded?
  6. What toys did you play with as a child?
  7. Did your parents ban anything they thought would have a bad influence on you? Toys? TV shows? Etc.
  8. Do you agree with the expression “boys will be boys”?
  9. Do you think children should play with toy weapons?
  10. Should girls be given typically girly toys? Dolls, makeup etc.
  11. Are there any toys / games / other things that you think are a bad influence on children or young people
  12. Should these things be banned?
  13. The story is an example of satire. What do you think it is satirising?
  14. What satirical programs / writers / magazines etc. do you have in your country?

Next week: Nuns at Luncheon by Aldous Huxley

freeenglishlessonplans.com