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Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Thursday, 17 April 2014

FAWLTY TOWERS for Funny-ELT-Consideration...

Is it remotely possible that any British person born in the 2oth century has not heard of this iconic comedy series? I also reckon millions of Americans, Indians, Australians, Canadians and South Africans have all had the joy of watching this wonderful "televisual feast" (Bernard Cribbins in Hotel Inspectors).  

So, I thought to myself it only fair that my Turkish students get to watch this also at 14 (it is when I first saw it), and do some scaffolded work that I have prepared through making edited clips and word/phrases lists for them to thoroughly enjoy. But before I share that particular avenue of happiness and joy (John Cleese in Hotel Inspectors) enjoy Cleese talking about his legendary show in this short video interview.

I am sure you enjoyed that little insight to the great man? So, what have I done?

First of all, when I thought about how to balance out our very heavy 6 week unit on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Auschwitz, I wanted to give the students a sense of light relief, while at the same time get a handle on more cultural comedy, language and the happiness they will feel once they can get into the style of sarcasm Cleese et al utilize and display with an impressive mastery.  So, first I started surfing for the episodes.  THAT was really easy, since everything is now available in this medium on the net (it wasn't when I first had the idea of making comedy Fawlty ELT units).  Next I had to find the srt or subtitles for each episode.  There would be little or no chance in keeping the students interested by listening and viewing alone.  That did take a little longer, but I found them courtesy of a Canadian site which had each one in place.  Next I wanted to edit the episodes so I could scaffold the experience for the students. However, that would be really tricky, difficult and boring to then re add subtitles with all the mixing I'd have to do. It meant I had to first hardcode each episode with the subtitles.  Once that was done, the editing just meant watching each episdoe again and deciding on the chunks of comedy.  In fact, when you do this you get to see how each hilarious part of the Fawlty Towers shows were written and directed.  The result is a sizeable number of comedic vignettes you and your EFL/ESL students can work on and ultimately enjoy. (btw the whole process took over twenty hours, but I believe well worth it). 

Order of Events
Search for the episodes in mp4 or avi
Search and locate the srt subtitle-files for each one
Hardcode each episode with the appropriate subtitles
Watch each episode again and decide on parts to cut
Upload the edited segments onto google drive
Transfer the GD-urls to BLENDSPACE for each episode
Watch the edited pieces again and pull language out
Record the language and grammar phraseology on word
Write surface-questions and add those to BLENDSPACE
Convert the word documents to PDF (all platform use)
Upload to the GoogleDrive folder for adding to website
Copy the shared links and add them to our blogsite
Give FAWLTY TOWERS its own special place on site

That was THIRTEEN STEPS (and I am on holiday!).  I kept at it because I believe in this
as a way to get more language over. It may not work, but I doubt it.  Perhaps the fact it is from the 70s may have a negative impact, but I believe because of the slapstick element to it, even though so much of the sarcasm will be lost on the young Turks, I am sure they will remember Fawlty Towers for the rest of their lives, like I have from 14 years of age.  I recognised much of what was being said, and I have to be honest it appears I have modelled a lot of my own attempts at humor on Cleese et al.  It is a great thing to realise that, subconsciously, I have kept the memory alive of those shows within me for teaching purposes.  I don't mean setting fire to the school canteen, or building new walls to keep people out, but just the little mannerisms, and witty quotes that make Fawlty Towers what it is: COMEDY GOLD!.  



After almost every episode segment there are lists of new words and grammatical reminders for your students to learn and practise with. But, I find it most useful to also give the students mini quizzes of the words, to which they resepond very favourably in terms of the benfits they get from the. They do tend to mump and moan a bit at first, but they really try, and more often than not, they surprise us with the results (ahh, to have a teenage memory again!)

With the brilliant EDMODO, our class PLN, there is a quiz
function which is perfect for vocabulary learning and formative assessment. There is only multi choice or true/false, and I am aware that production gives a more accurate view of true-understanding, but for these vocabulary flurries I believe it is a perfect support tool, and NOT a waste fo their time.  

The richness and intelligence of Cleese's writing is therefore shared in someway with the youth of today in Turkey; a mere 40 years after the magnificent Comedy Gold that is FAWLTY TOWERS was brought to our UK tv-screens.

Now the students have just completed their first ever Fawlty Towers comedic experience, we asked them to write a response on our PLN, Edmodo.  Here are the prompts with snips of students feelings below (unedited).

What did you think of the first episode?
How much did you enjoy watching it? 
How does British comedy make you feel?
How many new vocabulary items did you learn from watching and studying it?
Are you looking forward to watching more episodes?

I really like how honest most of the students are here in their responses.  Not only do they write how some parts were not easy for them, but they also say how much they enjoyed the laughter in the class.  In fact, only one student claimed he didn't enjoy it, but I believe that was more to do with the fact he doesn't like anything, and even Fawlty Towers couldn't adjust his non-conformity nor engagement.  However, the rest were really vocal about the enjoyment and benefits of learning such wonderfully crafted English phrases.  I asked them if they wanted any more, and the response was a wholehearty-YES!  So, next week we will give them The Germans.  Lets see if they enjoy the 1970s stereotyping from Cleese and the blatant prejudice and at times, racist remarks, he and the others (ignorently) make. 
                                    Good old 70s Blighty (not really!)

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