I came across the writer David Sedaris through the podcast This American Life and immediately fell in love with his dry and sometimes absurd sense of humour. Whenever I find gems like this, I turn it into a lesson plan, cross my fingers and hope that my higher-level students will find it as hilarious as I do.
Start by reading and listening to the text ”The Youth in Asia”. You’ll find the recording here and a transcription of the audio here. The podcast episode contains several stories, but fortunately Sedaris’ is the first one out so no need to scroll through the audio or text. Start or wrap up the lesson with a discussion on pets and animals.
Task 1: A Play on Words
Explain the title. Why is it called “The Youth in Asia”?
Task 2: Paragraph
Pick five paragraphs from the text and explain for each one the wit, punchlines, or other literary devices that Sedaris uses for comedic effect. In other words — explain what’s so amusing about the paragraphs.
Task 3: New Words
Write down 20 “new” words (i.e., words you are unfamiliar with) or expressions from the text. Put your words on flashcards (virtual or physical ones). Enclose a picture of your flashcard deck as proof and write a paragraph about the learning progress, i.e., how confident you feel guessing the meaning/translation of the words from one practice session to the next.
If Sedaris’ story made you smile, have a listen to his rather unorthodox guide of Paris.