Dear Mr Burglar, I am writing to …
This lesson is a fleshed out version of an idea I tweeted last week.
The video in question is the true story of a 16-year-old burglar who, as part of an Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme for young offenders, is made to write a letter of apology to the victim of his latest crime. However, far from expressing remorse, our hero shifts the blame onto the victim for not securing their home, and throws in a few insults for good measure.
The first three steps of the lesson (a lead-in conversation, the video and error-correcting the burglar’s semi-illiterate letter) build up to the main task of writing the victim’s reply to the teenage burglar.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin!
Step One : Lead-in conversation
Introduce the topic of burglary, then put your students into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss the following questions.
Two : The video
- Show your students the video, which appeared on the BBC’s website on 24th November 2011.
- I haven’t had time to design a listening comprehension task for this, but you might like to ask your students to take notes on what is said and then hone in on some of the language used: I’m not bothered about …, He has a point, adjectives like obnoxious, rude, unrepentant etc
Step Three : Correcting the letter
- The burglar’s letter is full of wonderful spelling and punctuation errors. Ask your students to search and destroy (i.e. identify and correct) them in pairs.
- When you’ve discussed the errors ask them for their reactions to the content of the letter.
Step Four : Letter writing task
- Put your students in the role of the victim and ask them to write a letter of reply to the burglar.
- You may like to scaffold the task by feeding in some functional language such as How dare you … | Given the fact that … I am prepared to … | I hope you feel … | If I were you I’d … | You should be ashamed of yourself … | I wouldn’t have dreamt of … when I was your age | …. is no excuse for … etc