Home and away

Published on 12th August, 2010 in Global Bloggers by Martin McMorrow

This weekend, New Zealand stayed at home and watched the rain do its thing – which gave me ample time to make myself at ‘home and away’ with Unit 8 of Global pre-intermediate. Of course, as immigrants, I and my students here are both ‘home and away’ at the same time. When I emigrated here from the UK I had the contents of my London flat shipped all the way here to Auckland. And so, on rainy days like these, how doubly at home I feel!

With all the sophistication of modern coursebooks, often it’s the simplest ideas that still work best. I really like the virtual home tour which kicks off Unit 8. How many imaginary, yet real, homes must be taking shape as the task is used around the world! It’s especially appropriate for my teaching situation since my lesson actually takes place in my student’s home. I hope I get invited for a real tour while I’m there!

There’s nothing quite as cultural as a home. I have a 1940s course book which informs us that in an English house, the kitchen, where the servant prepares dinner, is often downstairs, in the basement. We take our meals in the dining-room and talk with our friends in the sitting-room. Where did the servants take their meals, I wonder! Isn’t it great to see the diversity of human habitation being given its rightful place in modern coursebooks like Global?

I enjoyed Unit 8’s cat stories more than a grown man should. For Kiwis, I think the least surprising is probably the Australian one – most of us would gladly walk 2000 km to get away from Gold Coast! I was especially taken by the prepositions exercise with the cute retro cat … through the fields … past the dogs. Now I know why every teacher should have pets – it’s the stories.

My teaching idea of the moment is getting students to use their cameras. For this unit, I think I’d have them take some photos of different houses and pets, including their own, and bring them into class. In groups, the other students will have to guess which ones really are theirs. Bringing the class into the home and the home into the class. Any way we can break down the walls between us has to be good for learning, don’t you think?


  • Hi again Martin! Glad you enjoyed the cat stories, they were great fun to research too! An absolute gem of a book that I found some of them in was The Book of Lists. Very addictive reading, if you can get a hold of it I recommend you do. Would love to see your 1940s coursebook. Sounds hugely interesting!

    Lindsay Clandfield on 13 August, 2010
  • A 1940s dog-eared English coursebook informs me that Elsie is always busy. She helps Mrs Wood in the kitchen and cleans the house! At 7.30 p.m., the table is set for dinner in the dining-room. They have a nice joint, tender and underdone, with some potatoes and peas.

    What a good idea to get students to use their cameras!

    Monique on 20 November, 2010