Look at the photo above (shared on flickr by TausP under a creative commons licence) and in your mind’s eye, add a person sitting on the bench. Pay attention to what they’re doing and what they’re wearing, the expression on their face and what this tells you about them. Now click on this link that a friend just shared with me on facebook (thanks for the reminder Nick!) and you may just find that you’ve created exactly the same character. Or not.
The article is a few years old but it’s definitely worth dusting off and if you’ve got a B2 (+) class with a sense of humour I think it can work well in class. Here’s a suggested lesson plan.
1 Kick off with the photo. You could start with my creative commons photo or go straight to Mr Autumn Man himself. I think I’d do the latter. If you can, project it on a board, or if you don’t have access to a board, maybe your students can access it on their mobile phones/devices or if your class is small enough you can show it on your tablet or laptop? If you’re photocopying in black and white you could ask the students to tell you what colours they think are in the photo (this could be a good kick off whatever your tech context in fact).
Ask the students to work in pairs or small groups and point out and describe as much detail as possible. This can be done orally or you can ask them to write a list.
2 Field the information making sure it includes clothes as well as autumn/fall stuff. Make a note of the details to refer to after the first reading task.
3 Students read the article (on the projector, on their phones, on paper) and see how much of their information is included in the text.
4 At the end of the first reading ask ss to identify the purpose of the text (serious or tongue in cheek?) and ask them to identify phrases and extracts to justify their answer.
5 On a second reading ask them to comb the text for lexical sets; clothes / freetime activities / words to describe or associated with autumn / autumn food – you could get groups/pairs working on different sets, they could use dictionaries for new words as they read, and then share the information with the rest of the class.
6 Ask them if Mr and Mrs Autumn would be wearing the same clothes and doing the same thing in their home town(s). Use this as an opportunity to feed in any new vocabulary they might need.
7 Optional follow-up: they write a similar text about a) autumn in their hometown b) another season (if you’re in the southern hemisphere you might want to brainstorm ideas and vocabulary for spring) and if they can find a stock photo to go with their text, all the better! And if you can, share the texts with other classes and other students.
Let me know how it goes if you use it in class. I don’t have a class at the moment so I can’t try it out myself!