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Defining voice of the punk years
100 Great Britons
Beat the Cheats

Defining voice of the punk years
Joe Strummer

Trust all who celebrate Christmas & New Year have had a good time. It is time for the lessons about New Year Resolutions. Check out a past Tip called New Year Resolutions that encourage students to make changes to their approach to their learning.

This week, instead of a Tip we have an integrated skills lesson plan centred around the recently deceased Joe Strummer, lead man with The Clash.

To see the materials used in the plan

Word download

Preliminary information

Time: 60-75 minutes??

Level: Intermediate upwards

To give extensive & intensive reading & listening practice.
To give freer speaking practice
See each stage for possibilities of language practice aims.

That the stds will be interested in the theme of music - The Clash being part of the history of popular music.
That the stds will not find the different texts too difficult.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some students might not find the topic interesting. Could relate music & styles it to stds' own country.
Language - have a look through the materials.

• Colourful pictures of groups & musicians of different types - classical >> punk
• Quotes from fans taken from 'From Here To Eternity' cover by The Clash
• Obituary of Joe Strummer from the Financial Times, 24.12.02
• Song lyrics - The Clash
To see the materials used in the plan


Stage 1 - Intro to theme of music & punk
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds

1. Put up the pictures on the board & stds write down all the different kinds of music that the pics represent. If you have it, you could play different kinds of music & the stds match it to the pictures.
2. Feedback - elicit the types & get a discussion going about their likes/dislikes, why some musicians are popular & other not so, fashion & musical change, etc...
you could carry on with The Clash song - see stage 5

Stage 2 - Intro to The Clash
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds

1. Elicit if anyone knows anything of The Clash - if someone does, then let them tell the others.
2. Tell the stds that The Clash are considered one of the best 'punk' bands & elicit what they might have been like - family background, songs etc..
3. Give out the fans' quotes & elicit reactions - could get into a discussion on concerts & their best & why.

Stage 3 - Reading - Joe Strummer's obituary from the Financial Times
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds

1. Handout obituary - give extensive task & time limit of 2 minutes - task: anything they find surprising about Joe Strummer or The Clash - stress the time limit.
2. Read.
3. Feedback.
4. Give out comprehension questions, if needed - stds answer.
5. Stds compare in pairs.
6.Feedback - could develop a response to the text here & begin a discussion about points in the text.

A few comprehension questions

1. What kind of background did Joe Strummer come from?

2. What jobs had he done?

3. What inspired him to form The Clash?

4. What were some of the themes of The Clash's songs?

5. Why were they different form other punk bands?

6. Why were they criticised?

7. What did Joe Strummer do after The Clash?

Stage 4 - Language focus
??? mins

It is quite a meaty text & there are lots of things you could pick upon:

• the lexical field of music, music & politics
• descriptive adjectives - Joe & the music
• an analysis of the genre - obituaries - analyse how it begins with a summary of greatest achievements, on to growing up, then the history behind his fame, then the recent history & finishing with mention of his family. Could compare with how obituaries are written in stds' own countries.
• the language & devices used to contrast information - from the first paragraph where his privileged family background is contrasted with his punk band, to the Sex Pistols contrast - 'But here was...', etc...The whole text is based on contrasts.

Stage 5 - Song - London Calling - listening for pleasure
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds

(Of course, It doesn't necessarily have to be London Calling - any comprehensible Clash song will do - choose to suit)

1. Elicit again the type of music that The Clash played.
2. Play the song for pleasure - do they like it & what is it about?
3. Stds compare in pairs.
4. Feedback.
5. Handout the lyrics to read & listen at the same time. (Anything but a gap fill of the lyrics!!!!)
6. Could give some comprehension questions >> stds compare >> feedback.
7. Discussion of the lyrics >> poss. write another verse - or their own punk/protest song.

Stage 6 - Follow up activities
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds

• Interview with Joe Strummer.
• Writing imaginary obituaries - using the analysis of the genre, stds think of a famous musician & from memory write an obituary. Clearly this will be limited but encourage them to make up parts of the person's life that they are unsure about. If you don't feel it's not too guruesome, they could write their own obituaries & be imaginative with own or partner's life.
• Discussion/debate about state of popular music & related points eg. popular music should be used for change, pop stars are paid too much etc.

London Calling album cover

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There's no Tip this week as the holidays are upon us. There are ideas for a lesson to accompany our seasonal greetings though. The BBC has been running a competition to find who are the Greatest Britons. '30,000 people nominated their Greatest Britons last year....The definition of a 'Great Briton' for the purposes of the nominations was: anyone who was born in the British Isles, including Ireland; or anyone who lived in the British Isles, including Ireland, and who has played a significant part in the life of the British Isles.'
And the categories used to rate them included: Legacy, Genius, Leadership, Bravery & Compassion.
After a look at & exploitation of these materials, students can go on to nominate their own Great Brazilians, Spaniards, Portugese, etc.
An interesting end/beginning of term speaking lesson.

To see the plan & materials

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Beat the Cheats
& some Xmas links
Cash machine

This week we've got a lesson plan to go along with your Christmas lessons. This one is about shopping & fraud, the unpleasant side effects of the hysterical amount of shopping going on at this time of the year. Not only can you have an interesting lesson, but you can also help to forewarn your students about the various scams in the offing.

The article is from the Guardian website & here is a summary:

- introduction to the theme & pre-teaching of essential vocab
- reading the introduction to the article
- prediction of the scams
- matching up section & paragraph headings with descriptions of the scams
- a discussion of top & bottom most sophisticated scams
- language focus drawn from the text
- speaking - drawing up a list of warnings to shoppers
- reading & comparing with the articles list of warnings
- possible roleplay & writing activity follow up activities.

To see the lesson plan

To see the article & how it is separated for classroom use

Credit card & prison

Also for the Christmas-based lessons:

There's a lesson plan about Christmas traditions

And a variety of activities & ideas for Christmas

As a contrast to the lesson plan, there is interesting material on the Buy Nothing Christmas site. Especially the Stories at:

And if that's not enough here are some links to materials on the web:,12673,859870,00.html

Reindeer pâté anyone? Guardian article.

And when the vicar said he was dead - well, that brought it home.

And now there's scientific proof that he's dead! Boo hoo!

So, time for my pilgimage to Lapland.

And anyway the US military is following his route.

Lots of links from this page to younger learner materials.

Among many fun Santa things for younger ones, you can call Santa by phone & get an update on how close he is to your house on the big night. Now here's proof that he's still going!
To see if Santa is going to visit your house, check out the Naughty or Nice Meter.
This is what I got:
'"Nice," but you'd better watch out! I'm checking my list (twice!) and I see that the manners sometimes slip a bit. Please remember to say "thank you" especially in a season when people are giving gifts and doing such nice things. Good work brushing those teeth! Floss regularly and
you'll earn extra "Nice" points!' Phew!

And if you're fed up with all this Christmas stuff get over to Hitman 2 Christmas Game for a bit of Christmas-tinged violence.

Please go through the reading page if you're planning on buying
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