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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 4; Issue 5; September 02
Challenge to Think
This issue offers you two old exercises from Challenge to Think, Berer et al., OUP 1982. The book disappeared from the market place about five years ago.
The two exercises are: Two-in-one Stories and
Intensive reading. Sort out the two stories as quickly as you can. Then re-tell them.
The company chairman
- The cook stole a leg from a beautiful roast stork just
before it was served to the king.
- 'But, your Majesty, you didn't clap last night.'
- He glowered at them, 'Gentlemen, I have something I
must say: half of you are idiots.'
- The king asked him angrily why the bird had only one
- One day a company chairman got very angry with his
board of directors.
- The king clapped his hands and the birds flew off.
'There,' he said, 'You see, they all have two legs the
moment I clap.'
- 'Very well,' the chairman said, 'I withdraw it -half of
you are not idiots.'
- Next morning the cook and the king went down to
the river and saw the storks all standing on one leg.
- One of the directors stood up and banged on the
table. 'I demand that you withdraw that last observa-
tion, Mr Chairman.'
- The cook replied, 'Storks only ever have one leg -
come to the river with me tomorrow and I will show
you, Your Majesty.'
- 'Well, 'said the farmer, scratching his chin, 'I'll tell
you what we do.'
- 'Why do I have to use my elbow and my foot?'
asked his friend.
- A man inviting his friend to his home explained to
him where he lived.
- The man went back to his car with a puzzled look
on his face and said to his wife, 'I think he must be
- 'Come to the third floor,' he said, 'and where you
see the letter E on the door, push the button with
your elbow and when the door opens put your
foot against it.'
- 'We eat what we can and what we can't eat we
- A curious tourist, after passing a huge field of
carrots alongside the road, stopped and asked the
farmer what he did with his large crop.
- 'He said they ate what they could and what they
couldn't they could.'
- 'Well,' exclaimed the man, 'You're not going to
come empty-handed, are you?'
A stranger in London
The new hedge clipper
- The stranger got out and ran up to a policeman.
- He was about half way round his garden when
his neighbour arrived.
- Then he disappeared into Waterloo station.
- 'Thanks very much,' was the grateful reply.
- 'Would you mind paying my fare, officer?' he
said. 'I've a train to catch.'
- He called a taxi and asked the driver to take
him to Waterloo, mentioning that he had a
train to catch at three o'clock.
- 'That's all right, at least I can now go back to
bed and sleep in peace,' he said, walking back
to his own house.
- One Saturday morning a friend of mine
decided to use his new hedge clipper.
- The policeman told him and the stranger
handed him the money.
- The job was quickly finished and my friend
thanked his neighbour for his help.
- 'Can I give you a hand?' the neighbour
asked my friend.
- At half past two the taxi drew up at
Waterloo, the driver smiling broadly.
- 'What is the fare from Euston to
Waterloo?' he asked the policeman.
- A stranger arrived at Euston just before
- For two hours he sat back enjoying the
sights of London
The railway ticket
- There were eight of us in the carriage, and
seven tickets were soon found and punched.
- A few hours later a mean-looking travell-
er came down the road, and he too stopped
and asked Aesop, 'Tell me, my friend,
what are the people of Athens like?'
- Aesop, the Greek writer of fables, was
sitting by the road one day when a friend-
ly traveller asked him, 'What sort of
people live in Athens?'
- 'All tickets, please!' said the railway
inspector, appearing at the door of the
- Frowning, the man replied, 'I'm from
Argos and there the people are unfriend-
ly, mean, deceitful and vicious. They're
thieves and murderers, all of them.'
- 'Funny thing, absence of mind,' said the
helpful traveller when the inspector had
gone. 'Absence of mind?' said the old
- But the old man in the corner went on
searching through his pockets, looking
- Aesop replied, 'Tell me where you
come from and what sort of people
live there, and I'll tell you what sort of
people you'll find in Athens.'
- So he was, and the inspector looked
anything but pleased as he hastily
punched the mangled ticket.
- Smiling, the man answered, 'I come
from Argos, and the people there are
all friendly, generous and warm-
hearted. I love them all.'
- Again Aesop replied, 'Tell me where
you come from and what people are
like there and I will tell you what the
people are like in Athens.'
- 'I was chewing off last week's date!'
- 'You haven't lost your ticket,' said
the man next to him, helpfully.
You're holding it in your teeth!'
- At this Aesop answered, 'I'm happy
to tell you, my dear friend, that
you'll find the people of Athens
much the same.'
- 'I'm afraid you'll find the people of
Athens much the same,' was
- 'That's not so hard, George,' said his father.
'Write to him and say you need the £1000 at once.
- Among my best friends are Joe and his wife Alice,
who live in a nice little house near Manchester.
- 'You mean the £500,' George interrupted.
- The friend proved to be untrustworthy, and as
George thought he would lose the £500, he asked
his father for advice.
- The donor neglected to send his name, and all day
the couple's question was, 'Wonder who it is?'
- 'No, I don't!' Say a thousand pounds and he will
write back he only owes you £500.'
- There was a note from the burglar propped up on
the pillow in the bedroom saying, 'Now you
- When, as a newly married couple, they had just
returned from their honeymoon, they got a plea-
sant surprise in the post one morning - two
tickets to the best show in town.
- George Smith had lent a friend £500 but he had
nothing in writing confirming the loan.
- They enjoyed the show; when they reached
home they found that their house had been
broken into and that all their wedding presents
had been taken.
- 'Then you'll have it in writing.'
The general's visit
- He immediately ordered a pool and courts to
- Some weeks later Peter met his friend in the
street, and the friend asked him what had
- Peter had been called up, but he didn't want
to join the army, so he asked his friend what
he should do.
- When he was asked why he would not give
benches to primary children but wanted pri-
soners to have a swimming pool, he replied,
'Do you think I will ever go back to primary
- His friend said, 'Well, why don't you have all
your teeth pulled out? You won't get past
the medical then.'
- A general visited a primary school where the
children said they had no benches to sit on.
- Some time later he visited a prison. The
men there complained they had no swim-
ming pool and no tennis courts.
- Peter, who had no teeth left, mumbled,
'The officer said I was no good to the army - I've
got flat feet!'
- He told the kids there were no benches -
they must make sacrifices for their
( The "general " story originates in the long, dark Kissinger-Pinochet years in Chile )
Intensive reading. Read one sentence of the stories at a time, and then comment on
what you have read.
- John Brown is a butcher who always sell good stale bread. One morning last week
as he was busy working in his office a lady came in and ordered six loaves and four
apples. John had never had such a large order before and he suggested bringing the
cakes and sandwiches to her house in his van. So at 10 a.m. after a hard day's work
John put on his overcoat and scarf and stepped out into the sunny June evening. As
he approached his customer's tent John took the goods from the basket of his
bicycle and walked up to the front path to hand over the vegetables to the lady
waiting in the reception hall.
- My neighbour John has just called in to say that he and his wife can come to my
party next Wednesday. So we've arranged to meet outside the cinema at about six
o'clock. The main film showing is the latest James Bond film, starring Sophia
Loren, Henry Kissinger and Clark Gable. After the service the two of us will pro-
bably go for a drink. It's a long time since I saw John and his wife, so I'm looking
forward to an enjoyable Saturday evening with them.
- John Adams is an amateur detective who spends all his time trying to solve crimes.
Yesterday at about nine o'clock in the afternoon he saw his brother Joe walk up to
a red car, get into it and ride off at a steady trot. Three days later at exactly the
same time he thought he saw the same thing. He couldn't be absolutely sure as it
was already getting dark and the woman was holding an umbrella over her face to
protect her from the fog. Later that day when Adams had observed several other
suspicious people he walked to the next village and handed his report to the head
waiter at New Scotland Yard.
- Smith Billy is a teacher at a riding school. He always gets up at five to prepare his
lessons in order to avoid waking his children by his singing. He takes his noiseless
typewriter and writes four or five pages of notes so he will not hesitate when he
lectures to his horses. For variety, when his lessons are in danger of becoming too
interesting, he sometimes copies out a science fiction story from Grimm or Hans
Anderson, which he can dictate to the horses. Occasionally there is an emotional
reaction from his docile donkeys: when the story is sad they laugh. Billy prefers
this job to the one he had in a language school because now his students never take
him for a ride.
- SAN ANTONIO
How about a holiday in San Antonio, the newest resort on the Costa Brighton?
The beaches with sand as soft as concrete, skating in the warm sea and running
through the pine forests have been popular with our regular visitors for over 400
years. The cafes, hospitals and hoverports offer real Russian dancing, authentic
flamenco and fandango accompanied by throbbing chess-playing and singing to
fill your mind with memories to be treasured for minutes.
- If you want a new car for the family them come along to our surgery and look at
our latest discoveries. We have imported cars as well as a wide range produced in
British kitchens. There are no vehicles here on display so just come along any time
to see them. Alternatively you could phone and we'd be delighted to give you our
catalogues personally. We are open from 3 a.m. - 7 a.m., seven days a year and are
looking forward to buying from you the car you've been dreaming of.
- My friend Peter, who is 23 years old and a bachelor, has just bought a 14th century
bungalow on the estate behind our house. I have known Peter ever since we started
school together 32 years ago, and was delighted to hear he would be living so near.
Last Sunday we decided to visit him and his wife in their new home and we got the
bus at the Town Hall. It took us about 35 minutes to get there, although I have to
admit we didn't walk very fast. Peter and his eldest daughter, who had just retur-
ned home from work, were looking out for us through the letterbox and waved as
they saw us arrive. We parked the car at the bus stop, put 75p in the parking meter
and ran up the path and in through the window. Peter's wife was upstairs making
tea and she told us that her husband would be home in about half an hour.
- Joan lives alone in a large house near the city centre. Every evening she gets up,
wakes her family and gets ready to go to work in the town twelve miles away. She
takes her bike out of the stable and rides off into the warm December morning. As
she passes the gardens in front of the rows of shops she notices the roses that are
just coming into bloom. When she stops at the traffic lights she takes out her
thermometer. She sees it's three o'clock and thinks of her mother who will be
waiting at home for her to return from school. As last the traffic lights turn blue
and she drives off along the footpath to her two-room flat.
- Three years ago I retired from work and have since spent the whole time travelling.
As I didn't get very much pension my parents gave me £100 for my 21st birthday. I
took the cross-channel ferry from Birmingham to Moscow and made my way
through Spain to Copenhagen. The gift from my parents together with the £560 a
week pension made it possible for me to stay in cheap guest houses all the time. In
Denmark I met my grandson and we spent two days together travelling by boat to
Rome. After two nights at the Hilton Hotel we returned home by taxi. It was a
wonderful journey and a year that I'll never forget.
- 14 Eaton Terrace
An inferior house with full gas-fired central freezing. It is situated in one of the
worst residential areas of the city close to the local rickshaw service and within
flying distance of the airport. The property, which is poorly built of cardboard
under a glass roof, was completed by a local baker about eight years ago and is in
immaculate order throughout. It is regarded as a historical monument although in
need of repair.
- I have lived in the centre of London for the last ten years and will be moving to a
cottage in a small village next month. When I moved in I was only two years old
so I enjoyed the large garden and fields that surrounded our farm. When I went to
school it became more difficult, as I had to take the underground to the nearest
airport and from there went by tractor. Anyway all that is over now and I am
looking forward to the nice little penthouse flat that will soon be my home.