Ian McNamara

English by newspaper

Not quite rejection proof

Apparently I'm not fulfilling my contractual obligations by pandering to the whims of the Thai students of English who read this page. I must admit I have been concentrating my efforts on writing for the farang audience and not the majority of readers who are presently students of English. In an effort to placate this section of the readership this week's column is dedicated to those of you who love studying English by newspaper.

Ever noticed how the stories that are chosen in the English by newspaper sections are pretty mind numbingly boring? For some reason both this high quality broadsheet and it's more down market , less professional English language competitor often choose rather bland stories plucked from newsfeeds on the Internet..

Acharn Terry et al are always mentioning how great the Internet is and how they would regularly use it in the classroom - if only they were still teaching and weren't preoccupied with talking down to the likes of you and me. Heeding this advice I went off in search of a of news item guaranteed to make students sit up & take notice in class.

I'm a great advocate of exposing students to real life situations by using original texts and don't believe in hiding, sometimes controversial stories or facts from them. The near ideal portrayal of life in the USA that's so often seen in Hollywood movies just isn't realistic. Imagine the Thai kid's disappointment when, after spending 3 weeks in the USA, he hasn't seen at least 3 high speed car chases, several shootouts and got laid 10 minutes after meeting a hot sex-starved, silicone-implanted college chick at an all-night rave.

Todays story :

Drunken teens dare dive down trash chute. Man trashed.

(14 July 2000, Canada) It was a dare that Sheldon,25, will literally never take again. He and a group of friends found themselves at a Calgary apartment after an evening spent at a local bar. It was there that a joking challenge was issued. "Who wants to ride the in-house water slide?" The slide was actually a garbage chute. Sheldon volunteered, tumbled into the opening, and his subsequent headlong slide beat the standard elevator service down to the first floor. An unforgiving trash compactor awaited his arrival, and friends administered CPR there until emergency crews arrived at the scene. But they were too late. The 12-storey fall had already dispatched Sheldon to his Darwinian demise.

Topics of conversation

1. The story compares a garbage chute to a water slide. Do you enjoy watersports?

More interestingly, have you ever slid down a garbage chute? Would you? Do you think it'd be a fun thing to do? (If you answered 'Yes' to the last question then give 'Thai Rath' a call before you do it and they'll send a photographer along to record the event.)

2. If your friend fell in a trash compactor, what would you do? Would you try to administer CPR or would you just go "Uuuuugh!" and try not to get icky bits of his remains on your shoes as you step over his mangled body.

3. Have you or any of your friends died in bizarre circumstances? If so, do you feel that they've done the human gene pool a favour by eliminating themselves from it?

Words you should know


placate (v) - to please, to suck up to in order to keep one's job.

bland (adj) - dull, uninteresting, think Chuan Leekpai.

great (adj) - smashing, marvellous, the dog's bollocks

(to be) preoccupied (adj) - to be busy or, if a teacher in Bangkok, to be permanently encamped in a bar or other late night entertainment establishment.

sit up & take notice (v) - pay attention, be interested or, referring to students in a boy's school, to go 5 minutes without grabbing each other's dicks.

advocate (n) - a fancy word don't worry about it.

portrayal (n) - another word you'll never use and will probably have forgotten by the time you've finished reading this sentence.

silicone-implanted (adj) - Same, same the girls in the karaoke videos.


dare (n) - a bloody stupid thing to do.

challenge ( n) - ask someone to do a bloody stupid thing ( see above ).

unforgiving (adj) - used to describe machines which are designed to crush human bones to dust.

12-storey (adj) - that's a long way down.

demise (n) - death. Don't feel too bad about it. Judging by his actions he was never going to discover a cure for AIDS or end world hunger, was he?

Things to do

Try dropping a watermelon off the roof of your apartment to get an idea of what happened to Sheldon. Then make a mental note to avoid going near garbage chutes.

Next week . . . . . . . Continuing my attempts to educate the masses, 'Learning English by song'. Chants and ditties from top Premier League clubs. Ideal for sports day or for use in the classroom.


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