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!.
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