Monday, 27 September 2010

Teaching Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter"

I like to use a lot of oral activities when starting up a new class. There are, at least, two reasons for this. First, I believe it is absolutely necessary for the students to start speaking in class as soon as possible, or else they will remain silent throughout the year. Second, it is important that the students learn to know each other well in order to cooperate in class.

In addition to the oral activities, I usually start a new school year by reading one of more short stories that I know, or hope, the students will like. This year I decided to read Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter" with my first year students. Most students are familiar with Dahl's stories for children, like Mathilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. His short stories, however, are not all that well known.

I prepared both pre-reading questions and some questions that were to be answered as we read the story. I believe in close reading, but I also think it is necessary to give the students some questions to help them along. Most of the students could contribute in the discussion that followed the reading of this story; maybe one of the reasons was that quite a few had already read the story. I nevertheless think that this story has quite a lot to tell, both about the relationship between the sexes at the time the story was written, and about how you need to read between the lines in order to catch the author's message.

When searching the internet for material to use in class when working on this story, I came across a film version of the short story on YouTube. I guess the film can also be used in class in order to make the story more alive.

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