Monday, 30 September 2013

Oral Narrative Lesson

Level: Intermediate/upper intermediate/advanced

Language: Past narrative tenses/would/emergent language

Materials: Award Winning Short Film - The Shoe

Time: 90 mins

Extras: Digital Voice recorder (many students now have these on their smartphones)


Tell student to close their eyes and imagine the coldest day imaginable. Snow is falling gently in a large city. The roofs of the houses and a large cathedral are covered in white. It's bright and clear winter's day.

Speaking: Students talk to partner.

1. How would you feel if you were in the city?
2. What would you do on a day like this?
3. Do you think everyone is happy when the weather is so cold?
4. What problems might some people face living in such cold weather?

Group Feedback and focus on emergent language and lexical chunks.

Brainstorm the type of clothing needed to survive is such a climate. Write on WB.

In groups, using the brainstormed language on the WB, students decide on the three most important items of clothing and justify their answers.

Video/Oral narrative:

Show the video to 0.19 and ask students to speculate on the characters and where they live.

1. Are they rich or poor? How do you know?
2. What you you think the father of the girl does for a living?
3. Do you think they have a good relationship? Why/Why not?
4. Compare your house with the one in the video.

Now put the students into small groups and tell them they are going to create an oral narrative together using a digital voice recorder. (this might be a good point to review past narrative tenses - past simple; past continuous; past perfect)

Draw student attention to their senses (sight/hearing/smell/touch/taste)

Tell the student that they need to think about the senses when telling their narrative.

Play the video until 0.46 and pause.

Each group should brainstorm together and then one student from each group speaks the narrative into the voice recorder. Set a time limit. (2/3 mins depending on the level)

As a group speculate on what is going to happen next.

Play the video until 1.34 and pause.

Ask the following questions:

1. How do you feel towards the young girl? Why?
2. How do you think she feels about her life? Justify your answer.

Group brainstorm and record narrative.

Play the video until 2.21 and pause.

Ask the following questions:

1. Describe the relationship between the young girl and her father.
2. How does her father feel when she sees her drawing on the wall?
3. What emotions are the young girl and her father feeling while looking into the shop window?

Group brainstorm and record narrative.

Play the rest of the video and ask the following questions:

1. Is the man a good father? Why/why not?
2. Is the girl a good daughter? Why/why not?

Group brainstorm and record narrative.

Follow up questions:

1. Do you think you would have been satisfied if your father had given you a 'doll shoe' when you were a child? 
2. Does the movie tell us anything about fatherhood/childhood?
3. What adjectives describe the love the young girl and her father show to each other?

Now the groups have completed their oral narratives. Groups swap and listen to each other narratives noting useful language. Complete for all groups. Students will now have a large bank of emergent language in their notebook.

Group feedback.

Writing task: Students now use the new emergent language to write the narrative.

Homework: Student make an oral narrative telling the story of their relationship with their father on a typical day.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Short Story - Alcoholic Case by F. Scott. Fitzgerald

In the story An Alcoholic Case by F. Scott Fitzgerald, an idealistic young nurse is assigned a case with an alcoholic cartoonist. Her role is to assist him overcome his addiction, but after a short time, a lingering threat of violence causes the nurse to walk away.

“Suddenly she dropped it like a torpedo, sliding underneath her hand and slithering with a flash of red and black and the words: Sir Galahad Distilled Louisville Gin. He took it by the neck and tossed it through the open door into the bathroom.”

Her boss agrees with her decision and attempts to find a nurse with more experience dealing with alcoholics. However, her efforts are in vain. The nurse, inspired by reading about Mary Nightingale, decides to be a hero and return to the man as without her he has nothing. When she arrives back at his home, he is perky and full of life, but this mood is short lived. The topic of booze arises, and the man’s facade vanishes. In the final harrowing lines, the man makes up his mind that he wants to die, and the nurse knows she is powerless to prevent his demise.

“She knew death – she had heard it. Smelt its unmistakable odor, but she had never seen it before it entered into anyone, and she knew it before it entered into anyone, an she knew this man saw it in the corner of his bathroom: that was standing there looking at him while he spat from a feeble cough and rubbed the result into the braid of his trousers. It shone there crackling for a moment as evidence of the last gesture he ever made.”

This short story shows that some obstacles in life are insurmountable. Fitzgerard, being an alcoholic, was painting an admission of his own inability to kick the bottle. As sad as the demise of the man is, it’s a poignant reminder of the vice-like grip that alcohol has over many in society, and the premature end it delivers to those who fall under its spell.