Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

The lineup – a flash fiction lesson

This story was published on a site called f*ckfiction a few years ago. I realised the site no longer exists and, with it, my byline. I can’t be bothered to look for a new site as submitting to literary sites takes forever, even just finding the right one. And they never make any money so are as apt to disappear as its controversially-named original home.

I don’t seem to have written flash fiction for ages but it is an excellent way into reading for learners. Dare I say it, perhaps better for them than Graded Readers since the short length is not artificially imposed so can be seen as less patronising to someone who reads at high levels in their own language.

So, here is the text and some questions to use for discussion afterwards. Scroll down for a Word.doc handout. You could write your own questions, pre-teach some of the vocab or rewrite it to grade the language as it is quite high. However, the length (500 words approx) might mean that the hard work of the vocab is balanced out.Or check out the comment in the comments section for a fuller explanation of this great tip. “It would be interesting to allow reading of this one extract at a time so students could see how their perceptions of the situation change as they read on.”

I don’t think fiction like this, that carries a twist, is a good vehicle for the Simple Speaking/Reverse Reading approach where the questions come before reading as they spoil the suspense. But that approach works extremely well for non-fiction and you can find out more about it with this conversation class book I’ve put together. Using the “look inside” feature on Amazon, you can read the idea behind the lessons.

The Lineup

The row of men in their mid to late thirties stared straight ahead. Sarah felt uncomfortably like they could see her looking at them, despite the two-way mirror. The lighting angled into their faces would also make it hard for anyone to see out. It showed up every detail of their faces and clothing, every flaw. Sarah tried not to think about it.

Three of them were out straight away. Too short. They were so far off, she was surprised they’d been included. She crossed off two more with the wrong physique. Their shoulders weren’t broad enough. Number 7 had a terrible, affected moustache. It made him look like a pimp or some kind of cheap criminal. Wrong, wrong, wrong. She paused in front of Number 12 and chewed the end of her pen. Right height, right build but there was something she couldn’t put her finger on. She could always come back and look again. Thirty men, ten minutes. Plenty of time to make the right decision.

She moved along the line as her mind wandered to dinner. She’d come straight from work and had had to skip lunch again to run between meetings. She realised she’d passed over 19 to 24 while she was thinking about food. This was important. She needed to focus.

Number 25, balding, no way. So far she had crossed off over half of them. She ticked 28 and 29 just to allow some chance of finding the right guy even though they were blond and she’d said tall and dark. She went back to the beginning again and ticked five more. A second look at Number 12 and she immediately spotted what it was that had bothered her earlier. The shoes! Scruffy trainers with an otherwise not bad pair of jeans – not Diesel…

“Can they all turn round?” Sarah asked the attendant. A buzzer sounded and the men turned to face the wall. Number 12’s jeans were not only Armani, they were a great fit on a very nice bum. Maybe this guy had some style after all and the trainers were just an aberration.

One minute left. The buzzer sounded and Number 12 flashed a cheeky smile as if he knew where she’d been looking. Tick.

The Exit sign blinked and she deposited her clipboard in the box on the way out. She let some of the women pass her. She figured being at the beginning or the end of the women’s lineup was the best way of being picked. Ten minutes of holding your stomach in and smiling. MicroSpeed Dating, harsh but efficient. They should make that their slogan instead of “Takes minutes, lasts a lifetime”.

Questions

  1. What is a “lineup” usually used for?
  2. At what point in the story did you realise that this lineup wasn’t the typical one?
  3. Have you heard of Speed Dating?
  4. Do you think events like Speed Dating are a good way to meet a potential partner?
  5. What does this story suggest about the way people choose partners at this kind of event?
  6. What types of qualities does Sarah value in a man? What do you think of her as a person?
  7. Would MicroSpeed Dating be a more honest way of choosing a date? After all, isn’t Tinder based mostly on looks?

Word version here: the-line-up

standard-issue-textbooksMore info and where to buy

 

 

 

 

fce-tchrsMore info and where to buy

 

 

 

 

More info and where to buycutting-veg-pre-int

Advertisements

2 comments on “The lineup – a flash fiction lesson

  1. nmwhiteport
    February 24, 2017

    This is really good. It would be interesting to allow reading of this one extract at a time so students could see how their perceptions of the situation change as they read on e.g.

    Read the whole of the first paragraph – discuss;

    Then the first part of the second paragraph – discuss:

    “Three of them were out straight away. Too short. They were so far off, she was surprised they’d been included. She crossed off two more with the wrong physique. Their shoulders weren’t broad enough. Number 7 had a terrible, affected moustache. It made him look like a pimp or some kind of cheap criminal.”

    Then the other half – the chewing of the end of the pen is a really nice ‘hinge’ I think

    “Wrong, wrong, wrong. She paused in front of Number 12 and chewed the end of her pen. Right height, right build but there was something she couldn’t put her finger on. She could always come back and look again. Thirty men, ten minutes. Plenty of time to make the right decision.”

    With the right class, there could be all manner of interesting discussions around dating, the male gaze (in reverse), judging books by their covers, etc. etc. etc.

    • Nicola
      February 24, 2017

      This is a great idea! I wish I had thought of it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on February 24, 2017 by in ELT, Teaching English, Writing and tagged , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: