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birthday party

The birthday party

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26th January 2014



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You may have seen the following article in the press this week - have a read:

Five-year-old misses friend's birthday party
and gets invoice for £15.95

The parents of a five-year-old schoolboy have been invoiced for failing to attend a school friend's birthday party and have been threatened with legal action if they do not pay.

Derek Nash and Tanya Walsh found a brown envelope with a £15.95 "no show fee" left in their son Alex's schoolbag last week, sent by his classmate's mother Julie Lawrence.

Lawrence claims that Alex's failure to attend her child's birthday party has left her out of pocket, and that his parents had her details to tell her that their son would not be attending.

Nash said he had been told he would be taken to small claims court for refusing to pay.

It all started with an invitation to the birthday party just before Christmas at the Plymouth Ski Slope and Snowboard Centre. Alex – who attends a local nursery in Torpoint, Cornwall – told his parents he wanted to go, so they confirmed he would be at the party.

However, his parents realised on the day that Alex had been double-booked to spend time with his grandparents.

His mother told Apex News, "Julie Lawrence and I weren't friends, we didn't talk to each other at school, but I felt bad about Alex not going to the party."

"I searched for the party invite afterwards and I'm not sure we even had one."

She added: "But to be invoiced like this is so over the top – I've never heard of anything like it. It's a terrible way of handling it – it's very condescending."

Nash said he did not have the contact details of Julie Lawrence, and so could not let her know on the day.

After he found the letter he visited Lawrence, as her address was on the invoice, and "told her I would not be paying her the money".

"It was a proper invoice with full official details and even her bank details on it." He added: "I can understand that she's upset about losing money. The money isn't the issue, it's the way she went about trying to get the money from me."

"She didn't treat me like a human being," he said.

In a short statement, Lawrence said: "All details were on the party invite. They had every detail needed to contact me."

The trials of the birthday party! This might make an interesting focus for a lesson from intermediate upwards. It could be linked into the theme of the family, children, celebrations etc or it could simply be a one-off lesson. Here's a possible procedure:

1. Introduction - elicit last birthday parties attended > remember parties when a child > in pairs discuss memories of children's parties > feedback - elicit some of the more interesting remembrances.

2. Text prediction - put the headline on the board - 'Five-year-old misses friend's birthday party and gets invoice for £15.95' - check 'invoice' - in pairs students discuss what the article is going to be about > feedback - elicit a few ideas.

3. Set the extensive reading task - students read quickly to find out - Was the invoice paid? - give a 30 second time limit - tell them to skim the article, to help them speed up their extensive reading skills.
Students read > compare ideas in pairs > class feedback.

4. Set the more intensive task - put on board/give out the following questions:

1. How did Alex's parents find the invoice?
2. What will happen if the invoice is not paid?
3. Why couldn't Alex attend the party?
4. What did Derek think about the invoice?
5. What was his excuse?
6. what was Julie's response to his excuse?

What do you think?
Was Julie right to send an invoice? Do you think 'no show' guests should pay a financial penalty?

Students read & answer > compare ideas in pairs > class feedback - elicit the response to the text - i.e. what do the students think of the situation?

5. Language focus 1 - ask the students to find all the vocab connected to the legal/financial - e.g. legal action, no show fee, out of pocket, small claims court, invoiced, invoice, bank details - do this in pairs > feedback.
Language focus 2 - ask the students to find all examples of reported speech, reporting verbs & direct speech > pairs discuss - go round & ask them to consider why the author has chosen to use in/direct speech at different times > feedback.

6. Speaking - roleplay - Derek & Julie come together to try to resolve the situation - if a three then add in Tanya as well - designate roles - maybe all the Dereks & all the Julies could get together to prepare their arguments. Be on hand to offer language alternatives & further ideas to use.
Roleplay - stds discuss - take notes > feedback on the content - a resolution? - & on +/- things heard in the discussions.

7. Further discussion - if not already discussed earlier - students discuss other social situations which might require a financial penalty for a no show e.g. a wedding. You could round off by doing this as a class discussion.

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Happy teaching!


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