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January 29, 2007

Lesson Plans- Teaching Parody Through Newspapers (Advanced)

Hello Readers,

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of "Private Eye", a British satirical magazine. Being an ESL teacher, I immediately thought about my students. If they read this magazine, what would they think about it? Would they know that the articles are simply mocking other news stories? Would they understand the humor? And if they did,...

... how exactly would they know that the articles in the magazine are not "real"? Furthermore, how do WE know that the articles are not meant to be taken seriously?

According to two linguists, parody can be described as a "genre of linguistic imitation" (Crystal) and good parody is "often subject matter that is only slightly or subtly inappropriate" (Swales).

After comparing a few of the Private Eye articles with the articles or issues they were being imitated, I came up with a lesson plan for use with advanced level ESL students.

1. Discuss the features of a newspaper article with your students. What features tell you that it is a newspaper article as opposed to a novel, advertisement, or an essay, for example?

Things to elicit from students:

Font size (different for headlines, authors, and main text)
Short paragraphs
Use of columns

2. Explain that newspaper articles often use a narrative framework. This includes:

abstract (which establishes the main point of the story)
orientation (includes the who, what, when, where, and is generally found in the lead paragraph)
complicating action (the complicating action)
evalaution (gives an article a focus)
result or resolution (the resolution)
coda (indicates closure)

3. Distribute a (short) newspaper article and ask students (in pairs) to underline the features of a narrative.

4. Discuss in large groups. There may be some disagreement. Some of the above steps may not be included in your newspaper article.

5. Now, give the students two similar articles (one being from a legitimate newspaper and the other being from a satirical magazine/newspaper like Private Eye) and ask them to find the features discussed above for each. Then, ask them to figure out which article is legit and which is a 'fake'.

6. Discuss.

7. If there is time remaining, discuss humor- how is it similar or different in their native language and culture? Do they find American /British humor funny? Why or why not?

To view the Private Eye website, go to: http://www.private-eye.co.uk/

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

Looking for more articles about lesson planning for the ESL classroom? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, and lived and worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at the Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at January 29, 2007 04:25 AM

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