Megxit- classroom resources

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their decision to step down as senior members of the Royal Family last week. As it happens, I am dealing with current affairs and the media in my C2 classes. And as of next week, we will be talking about diversity and inclusion, tackling some aspects of race relations. That is why I decided to use this news story as an excuse to design some activities to link both units.

  1. Watch this clip from BBC’s Newsnight where royal correspondents discuss their views on the subject (source). Pay attention to the underlined expressions related to ‘getting information’:

Click on the screenshot to open the video and transcript in a new tab

2. Read the following opinion article on the treatment that the tabloids (and the media in general) have given to the couple, and especially, to Meghan Markle as mixed-race (source). Some sentences have been removed. Choose from sentences A-G the one which fits each gap (1-6) best. There is an extra sentence which you do not need to use.

Click on the screenshot to download pdf file

The text includes a wide range of vocabulary, with some expressions which might actually be interesting to include in your wordstock; however, they may make it harder for you to understand the text. Should you have any trouble, you can click on this interactive version of the text on Thinglink:

3. Mediation in writing: You are a team of journalists working for El País in English. You have been asked to write a news story for their website on Harry and Meghan stepping down as senior royals.

El País is a serious newspaper. Therefore, they tend to use:

Read the following source https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10721340/queen-arrives-church-summit-meghan-harry/ and select the relevant information

  • Think about how you would express those ideas in a way which is more suitable for your newspaper and your target audience.
  • Write a 150-175 word news story.

Download the pdf version of the source article (text only)

4. Follow-up: Share your views on Twitter. Use the hashtag #Megxit to be part of the conversation. [I opened a shared Twitter account for my students so that they would not need to use a personal account. Using Twitter provides real online interaction, and it seems only natural to use social media when discussing ‘the media’ in 2020]. 

  • How do you feel about #Megxit? Do you feel for them? Deep down, are you saying ‘good riddance’?
  • Do you support their decision to step down as senior members of the family?
  • Have they been harassed into leaving by the press, especially the tabloids?
  • Should they continue to be supported financially by the Crown (i.e. by British taxpayers)? 

Keeping up with the news in English

If you want to keep up with the news, these may be useful sources of information:

To see the front pages of newspapers every day, you can visit these links:

You can also watch these news channels: 

Radio:

Further ideas: https://natalialzam.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/la-radio-como-recurso-en-el-aula-idiomas/

C2 mediation in speech- Christmas in Spain

The mediation-in-speech paper in the EE.OO.II. in Aragón includes a cross-linguistic mediation task: students receive a text, infographic, chart…in Spanish, and they have to mediate it into the target language, in our case, English.

As we are dealing with Christmas-related topics these days in class, I thought of using two articles in Spanish around two controversial matters that have hit the headlines recently: the Nativity scene in Barcelona and the Christmas display in Vigo.

The context I provided students with is the following: These days you are hosting an Erasmus visit in your school. There are Greek, French and Turkish teachers in the group. The common language you are using is English. They have heard something about the news, but don’t really know what all the fuss is about, so they would like to know more about the subject. Help them understand what is happening, and what the controversy is all about. 

These are the CV descriptors I wanted to work on:

  • Relaying specific information in speech: Can explain (in Language B) the relevance of specific information found in a particular section of a long, complex text (written in Language A) (p.107).
  • Facilitating pluricultural space: Can mediate effectively and naturally between members of his/her own and other communities, taking account of socio-cultural and sociolinguistic differences (p. 123).

The strategies I imagined students should be using are:

  • streamlining a text
  • adapting language
  • linking to previous knowledge

Some possible language they can use can be found here.

After carrying out the tasks in class, I realised I could provide them with a WAGOLL (What a Good One Looks Like), a sample task which could work as a model for them to see what aspects they should have been concentrating on, and a possible mediation sample. That is why I came up with a Thinglink poster for the article on the nativity scene: First, I highlighted content and key words that I felt were relevant. Then, I took a screenshot of the text, which I uploaded to Thinglink. Then I added links with text comments, stressing what points were essential, and therefore should be mentioned, as well as some cultural points that may need explaining for the hearer to be able to get the full picture. Finally, on the microphone icon, I added a link to a recording of myself mediating the text.

 

Click on the image to open Thinglink (opens in a new tab)

Transcript of the recording here

To be honest, I am not sure this can be regarded as a ‘good’ mediation task. But hopefully, it will help students come to terms with the kind of strategies they should be using, and perhaps give them some idea of expressions they can use when faced with these tasks.

 

language for mediating text in speech-writing (B2-C2)

If you need to carry out a mediation task, either in speech or in writing, these formulaic chunks of language may help you relay your ideas and mediate your text more effectively:

Click on the screenshot to download the pdf file

 

More on mediation:

Christmas ads 2019

Christmas is around the corner. In the run-up to Christmas, businesses and brands release their very best ads, typically tearjerkers, to catch consumers off-guard and lure them to shop till they drop. I’m well aware of their persuasion strategies, of course. And yet, every year I find myself having a look at British Christmas ads, as they tend to be longer, and usually tell a story, which will allow me to exploit them in the classroom even further than ordinary ads. This is a selection of the ones I liked the most this year:

VISA

a rendition of Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ by real shopkeepers struggling to survive in the high street.

Extended version

Alternative version- shopkeepers singing All I Want for Xmas is you

Sainsbury’s– Nicholas the Sweep

Set in Dickensian London, it showcases the story of a waif-an orphan child and chimney sweep, unfairly accused of stealing.

Resources: the ad is set in Victorian England/Dickensian London. Some related vocabulary may be useful to start with:

Click on the image to open the word cloud. Links to definitions can be found by clicking on each word.

  • What do you mean when you say that somebody is ‘rotten to the core’?
  • The story is told by a 3rd-person narrator. How would you narrate the story using 1st-person narrative…
          • a. from Mrs Sainsbury’s point of view? 
          • b. from Nicholas the sweep’s point of view?
  • Imagine the story were to be published as a book. How would you retell it?

John Lewis & Waitrose– Excitable Edgar

Resources to use the ad in the classroom:

Fortnum and Mason– What’s in a Fortnum and Mason hamper? (list of traditional Christmas foods and elements in Britain)

Watch the ad and write down as many foods, gifts and Christmas traditions as you can.

Aldi-Kevin the Carrot #4 (Let Me Entertain You):

Resources to use the ad in the classroom: The Literacy Shed

Sky– ET came home for Christmas

Joules– Wallace and Gromit

Iceland supermarkets– Frozen II

Lidl

M&S Christmas Food (Christmas market)

Smyths toys– If I Were a Toy

Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day– You may want to take part in this…

Further resources:

Apostrophe Protection Society closes down

The Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) has been forced to shut down, due to an alleged lack of interest in the subject.  Listen to the  news report below to find out more:

You can read the transcript here

You can also read this article, or have a look at some ‘apostrophe catastrophes’.

This is no trifling matter. For example,  should it be King’s Cross or Kings Cross? On the tube map, it says ‘King’s Cross’, but on the National Rail website, it does refer to the station as ‘Kings Cross’, which illustrates the insecurities in the use of the apostrophe over the centuries.

Some time ago, a grammar vigilante was claimed to roam the streets of Bristol late at night correcting bad punctuation on Bristol shop fronts.

With all this in mind, you could think of possible speaking points:

  • Can you see the APS and this grammar vigilante’s points? What’s your take on their actions?
  • Is English spelling and punctuation being neglected? If so, what may be some possible causes?
  • Would English benefit from having an ‘Academy of the English Language’, just like Spanish or French have?
  • Should written  language adopt more similar conventions to spoken language?

Follow-up to the story (Dec 9th 2019): Renewed interest in apostrophes after society closed down

signposting language for essays

One of the most relevant aspects of the structure of an essay is signposting: giving clear indications about the content of your essay not just in the introduction, but in every section. Imagine you were giving indications to a driver to prevent them from getting lost: that is the function of signposting language. That way, your essay will be much easier to read, much clearer. Here you have a more detailed explanation.

IMG_4787

street signpost in Eton, Berkshire (England) [my own photograph]

You can find below some possible expressions you can use to that effect:

 

Screenshot 2019-11-30 at 18.17.28

Click on the image to download the file

You can also have a look at these links, especially the first one, a very thorough guide to academic writing:

As an exercise, you can read these two sample essays (argumentative and discursive).

Screenshot 2019-12-02 at 22.28.51

Can you highlight….?

  • any signposting language you can find.
  • the linking words you can find to join paragraphs and to join sentences within paragraphs.
  • WOW language (grammar and vocabulary which stand out as really good).
  • any other positive aspects that may call your attention. 

You can find below the same essays with some of these aspects highlighted:

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