Writing Activities From The Spoof

logo-red.gif“Nobody can be that stupid or uneducated”, said [organization president]. “This has to be a conscious act on the part of … to destroy the English language. I see him as a world class verbo-terrorist”

Any idea who the villain might be? It’s not Uncle Uncountable this time, find out who it is here.

I’ve posted about using satire in class once before (with The Onion) and recently came across another site – The Spoof – featuring satirical news stories which you might be able to use effectively with lower level learners. Keep in mind that “lower level learners” refers to “lower than advanced”, which is the level I thought Onion articles would be best suited to. I think these Spoof articles could work with a level of Intermediate or above.

The articles at The Spoof tend to be shorter and are written by contributors from all walks of life, not only by people who make their living writing satire. Among other things, this means that there can be a number of differences in style, as well as, frankly, in how funny they are.

One possible activity would be to get students to work in groups or pairs and select four or five stories fitting a range of criteria – very funny, not funny at all, maybe offensive, etc., and to compare them to create a few criteria for “what makes a good satirical article” (a current theme, a theme readers know something about, correct grammar and punctuation, neutral wording, use of “strong” wording, etc.). Perhaps the class can come up with a few common themes (Paris Hilton in jail, anything with George Bush) and each group writes one or two good stories. If you’ve got a lot of time they can read and comment on what’s positive about each, and if you have very strong stories…consider getting your students to become members and see if they will be published on the site!