What I spent a good deal of the last two weeks working on

I spent a lot of time on this over the past couple of weeks so I thought I’d share it with anyone interested (EFL teachers particularly). It’s not perfect by any means; there are a lot of activities I would fine tune or add to before I used them with my students. But if anyone wants to use any of it they’d be welcome to (although it might be nice if it didn’t get too far away without my name on it).

This was a materials design project for my course this summer that ended today. It’s for advanced learners of English in a foreign language context. There would be a DVD to go with it if it were real. But there isn’t one because it’s not a real book. So to use these things you’d have to go find The Office and Little Britain and whatnot.

But it’s basically a unit of a supplementary coursebook based on satirical texts. Here’s my dream table of contents:

1. Introduction: What is satire?
Text: The Literary Encyclopedia: Satire, Ian Gordon
Satire-related vocabulary
2. Satire of Everyday Life
The Office pilot episodes: English and American
The Onion
Little Britain: Series 1 Episode 1
Summer Heights High Episode 1 excerpts: Ja’mie
SNL commercial: Racial tension headaches + Excedrin tension headache commercial
• Secondary Texts: The Office reviews
3. Politics and Journalism
The Daily Show: “i on News”, June 8, 2009
Fox News and The Colbert Report
This American Life: Episode 348, “Tough Room” (Act One on The Onion meeting room)
Private Eye
• Doonesbury

• Secondary texts: 1) Jeff Zeleny, “Political Satire, but Obama Isn’t Laughing” from NYTimes.com blog The Caucus 2) Lee Drutman, “The Truthiness of The Colbert Report” from millermcclune.com
4. Literary Satire
The Simpsons: “Das Bus” and “The Count of Monte Fatso”
• Jonathan Swift: “A Modest Proposal”
• James Thurber and E.B. White: Is Sex Necessary? (1 or 2 chapters)
• P. G. Wodehouse: Excerpts from Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves and the television series with Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry
• Stephen Leacock, excerpts from Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
• A Prairie Home Companion

• Secondary text: Graeme Allister, “Literary Satire is Alive and Kicking in America” from The Guardian, September 2008
5. Cultures and Subcultures
• Will Ferguson: excerpts from How to Be a Canadian
• Bill Bryson: excerpts from Notes from a Small Island, Notes from a Big Country
• Jeff Foxworthy
• David Sedaris: “See You Again Yesterday”
• Sarah Turnbull: Excerpts from Almost French

Unit 2 is the one that I planned out so clearly some other things haven’t been fleshed out. But I turn it in Wednesday so this is basically the final format (except that some of the page breaks are better in the version I’m turning in), though I will probably use some of it with my students in the fall.

One last note: I don’t, of course, have any of the rights to the things in that document. There is actually very little in the way of texts actually IN the plan I’ll turn in. The Onion stuff is all available online; so is the Queen Latifah SNL commercial; Summer Heights High also seems to let you watch videos for free on the network website. The other things I used my amazing Netflix account for.

(Oh yeah, it WAS super fun to make all those tables and colors, since I know you were going to ask. It was also probably really a waste of time.)

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3 thoughts on “What I spent a good deal of the last two weeks working on

  1. Nice work! Yay for materials design! I would love to use SNL skits to teach American humor and satire, but stupid NBC (or any other American network) doesn’t allow viewing of their videos outside of the US.

  2. Hah me too. Almost. I can usually find an alternative video on youtube or bittorrent though. Still a bit too lazy to do proxies. And if I really want some skits, I can download them to my USB key when I’m home next month anyway.

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