As an English teacher Halloween is one of my favourite events. Not because I particularly enjoy wearing costumes (I don’t think I’ve worn one in the past 10 years), but because I love using TV series in my lessons. There are some great Halloween episodes around and these are two of my favourites, one to be used with adolescent groups and another with adults.
Whichever video you end up using, I suggest you start with some discussion questions about Halloween.
- Do you think Halloween is more popular nowadays than it was a few years ago? Why?
- Have you ever been to a Halloween costume party? How was it?
- Did you use to go trick or treating when you were a child?
- Do you think Halloween is more popular nowadays than it was a few years ago? Is this good or bad?
- Do your children enjoy Halloween? Do you take them trick or treating?
Give students time to discuss these questions in pairs and then turn it into a whole group discussion. Afterwards tell them they are going to watch a snippet of a TV show talking about Halloween.
When working with TV series, it’s always a good idea to check if students know what the series is about and who the main characters are. In a group of adolescents there is usually someone who has watched How I Met Your Mother, so you can get them to tell the other students about the series.
You may also want to use a picture like the one below to introduce the characters. Ted and Barney are the main characters for this snippet. Here you could introduce the word womanizer as well, to describe Barney and provide some additional context.
These are the while-watching questions I recommend using with this snippet.
- Who is the slutty pumpkin?
- What does Ted do to try to find her?
- Does Barney like the rooftop Halloween party?
- What is Barney’s strategy to have a second chance with girls on Halloween?
If you want to ask students a follow up question, you could get them to discuss what they would do if they were in Ted’s shoes.
The script for the full episode can be found here, but what you could also work with isolated sentences and see how much students already know. In this case, show them the sentences below and get students to discuss in pairs which expressions they know.
It was carved in strategic places.
Bring the mockery. I can take it.
Wouldn’t it be cool if the slutty pumpkin turned out to be my future wife?
I can’t believe you talked me into this.
This party sucks! There are 7 chicks here. There are 6 chicks here.
Every Halloween I bring a spare costume in case I strike out with the hottest girl at the party.
Have you guys got any weed?
(You may want to skip this last one depending on how young or students are or the institute where you work.)
After you elicit meaning from students, you may want to concept checking some of the less straightforward expressions (particularly turn out and strike out).
Here are some suggested questions for practice. Notice that chick and carve are used in different expressions, which are more interesting in my opinion. Alternatively, you could ask a question like “Have you ever carved a pumpkin?”
- Can you think of a time when your friends talked you into doing something?
- Do you like watching chick-flicks?
- Have you watched any films this year that sucked?
- Do you usually mock your siblings and friends? How do they react to it?
- When you have some spare money do you save it or spend it?
- Do you think it’s easier to carve a career for yourself if you attend a good university?
With adults it’s particularly important to introduce the series and the characters (as they generally don’t watch as many series as adolescent students). You don’t need a lot of background information about The League to understand what’s going on here. However, students do need to know that Kevin and Jenny are married and that they have a daughter called Ellie.
These are the while-watching questions I recommend using with this snippet. You might need to pre-teach a staple and say that girl scouts can also be called brownies. The language here is quite heavy, so bear your group profile in mind.
- What kind of candy does Kevin think his family should have for Halloween? What about his wife?
- What costumes used to be a staple when Kevin was at university?
- Why did Halloween use to be Kevin’s favourite holiday?
- What kind of party does he want to organize?
- What costume does he suggest his wife wear? What will she end up wearing?
A possible follow-up question for adult students is whether they would like to take part in an adult Halloween party.
You could play the part where Jenny talks about her costume for students to write down the following sentence: I’m thinking costume-wise I’m going to whore it up.
Ask students if they know what it means. It’s also important to say that although this is a very common use of -wise, it is informal.
Here are some suggested questions to show students possible uses:
Have you been happy with October, weather-wise?
Were you happy with your university or school, infrastructure-wise?
If you went to a Halloween costume party this year, what would you wear, costume-wise?
Is gender important, friendship-wise?
Time-wise, does your routine allow you to do everything you want?
Do you have a lot on your plate at the moment, work-wise?
Thanks for reading and happy Halloween.