With Halloween approaching, a teacher has to come up with some entertaining ideas. I’m not a fan of classes dedicated directly to the occasion, I prefer running a normal lesson with a little twist. Some time ago I tried storytelling with Scaredy Cat by Heather Franzen (I still love this cute little story and regardless of how murderous students I teach, I find them appreciating these activities as well), but this year I’ve decided to go with something new — namely, the apocalypse.
Zombies have become a rather common topic in my classroom, especially on Mondays, when some of us look somewhat zombified. Somehow, the apocalypse is also quite a popular topic (all those environmentally-centred lessons in ESL books are rather pessimistic, admit it) — so when my ex-DOS found a book called English for the zombie apocalypse I simply had to buy a copy. Was it a good purchase?
Well, it depends.
The book consists of 10 lessons describing a story of a man who tries to escape zombies in his city — he finds a girl and her brother, they all escape to wilderness, the inevitable happens (one of them gets bitten and slowly turns into an undead) and finally the survivors ride towards the setting sun. Classic.
Each lesson starts with a dialogue introducing the situation, some follow-up questions and — what’s most important — some useful conversational phrases and drills with a short role play scenario (“you’re running away from zombies and meet a stranger. Introduce yourself and ask for possible help”).
Overally, I think the book is targeted at students around pre-intermediate level, and I’d rather recommend it for young adults and students who watch TV (The Walking Dead series proves to be really popular) and are pop-culturally aware, otherwise the purpose of the book makes no point. Truth be told, communicative exercises are useful not only in zombie-centred environment, but if you have a group of students who don’t get the zombie apocalypse theme, I’d rather not risk introducing the book. Unless they feel like giving it a go, of course.
Using the book in the classroom:
You can use the book in the classroom either using all the units at the same time (it can take one or two classes) or just the chosen ones (focusing on giving the directions or making apologies for example). While Halloween may be a good excuse to simply focus on the idea of a zombie apocalypse, you may also use the lessons throughout the course, showing your students that communicative skills can be vital when the undead attack.
You can make a project lesson with your students trying to come up with further lives of the survivors – students may write a story, record a video or simply create a lesson similar to the ones in the book. Naturally, you may also use the book as a basis for a lot of speaking activities focusing on survival and countless ‘what-if’ situations.
Hope you’ll enjoy your Halloween 🙂