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Cultural mirrors – Television drama
in the EFL classroom
by Dr Richard Kiely
- 3

4. Six Lessons

Lesson Task type Comment
1 Preamble: TV programme types

Silent viewing – Who is who?

Viewing task – Comprehension questions; gapped transcript to fill in

Discussion of characters, revising adjectives for describing personality and character

Students were interested at viewing stage, and very keen on the transcript, but found the gap-filling difficult. Had lots of questions about taboo words. Discussion of concept of ‘watershed’. Spontaneous discussion of gender roles.
2

Preamble: TV programme types

Silent viewing – Who is who?

Viewing task – Comprehension questions; Group discussions of gender roles, using complete transcript

Students very engaged in gender roles, with three (Portuguese; Korean and Japanese) commenting on similarities with practices in their countries: women in the kitchen, man with TV remote control; working women doing housework; men confused by the menopause; etc

Two students borrowed videotape and viewed whole programme in the Language Centre; one talked to her host family about the programme

3

Preamble: TV programme types

Silent viewing – Who is who?

Viewing task – Comprehension questions, using complete transcript

Out of class activity: tape placed in Language Centre for independent viewing

As above. One student (Malaysian) poses questions about the socio-economic status of the home. She relates aspects of it – furniture/décor to the homes of host families she has stayed with in Britain.
4

Preamble: TV programme types

Silent viewing – Who is who? What is going on? What do you notice about the home (furniture, décor, etc.)?

Viewing task – Comprehension questions; Group discussions of gender roles, using complete transcript

Lesson is a series of activities 90 minutes in all, with students viewing, working in groups on tasks, and reporting back. Same themes as above, but students seem to want to deconstruct segment, through line by line analysis of transcript.

Lots of questions and comments about taboo language and politeness.

5

As above, with project activities to follow-up outside class and report back on the following week:

  • Interview British students who like the Royle Family about the reasons for its popularity;
  • View whole programme and present summary of story in next lesson;
  • View a Royle Family website and present a review in next lesson.

Lesson is now two 90 minute sessions, including a classroom viewing of whole programme. Lots of language form issues coming up as part of the analysis students carry out, especially aspects of the discourse, e.g.:

The sarcasm of Barbara’s ‘Don’t worry Jim, I’ll get it’

Dave’s nowt and Jim’s nothing

Top for blouse/T-shirt

The irony of Denise’s: ‘You could come and live with us’ and Jim’s ‘I don’t say nothing I just get on with it’

6

Two sessions:

1. Preamble, viewing, examination of transcript, setting further exploration projects (as above)

2. Presentations of tasks. Teacher notes students’ comments and observations on whiteboard to structure and support plenary discussion.

As above, with lengthy discussion of cultural aspects of the segment – gender roles, family relationships, and the menopause. Two male students (19 and 20) did not know what this was (or claimed not to know), and the female students explained. All reflected on how this kind of information is hidden and shared in their cultural contexts. Many similar observations from Chinese, Danish, Japanese and Spanish cultural contexts.

Fewer questions about taboo words – as one student put it: the context shows how these words can be used.

Table 1: Summary of development of lessons using transcribed segment of The Royle Family.

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