fbpx
Free English Lesson

Free Lessons for Home Learning: English Part One

English Part 1:  Free Lessons on 3 American Classics 

However strange things may be at the moment with all our children learning from home, there is definitely scope for you to become involved in (and to understand) your children’s education like never before.  Therefore, over the next few weeks I will be writing a series of easy free lessons for home learning. 

Over recent years, particularly since the redesign of the GCSEs and A levels in the U.K., I have heard repeatedly from parents that they would like to help their teenagers or younger children with schoolwork, but it is all so different now to when they were at school that they don’t know where to start.  That, of course, is why so many parents engage private tutors.  

However, not everything has changed.  For English, if we forget about the assessment objectives and essay structure for the moment (leave those to the teachers and tutors) there is a lot that is similar to when you did the subject at school.  In books, the characters are still important, as is the plot, the context in which the book was written and the main themes.  

This means you can easily use these free lessons to explore and discuss books with your teenagers at home.  Not only will this build important skills and confidence, but reading and discussing books can be enjoyable for you too- that’s why book clubs are so popular. 

Here are 3 free lessons based on American Literature Classics for you to explore with your teenagers.  I’ve put in some questions for you as a starting point, some research tasks, and where it is possible I have included the free pdf downloads too.  

Try Our Virtual School 9am – 5pm weekdays

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Download the Book

Background to the Book

Set in the Roaring Twenties, the background to the book is the 1920s economic boom.  The period was defined by rapid industrial growth, a new demand for consumer goods, expansion of infrastructure and a leap forward in technology.  Women had more freedom, wages and productivity rose, and the idea of the American Dream was born.  This was the idea that, no matter how humble our beginnings, any one of us could attain great wealth and success – if only we work hard enough.

In The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald laid bare his feelings about the American Dream, demonstrated how the rich got richer off the backs of the poor, and exposed the corruption that was rife in 1920s America.

The Lesson

Read the book.  Watch the video clip.  Then discuss the book together.  Whilst you want to hear ideas and personal responses, try to keep a loose framework to the discussion.  Here are some ideas of relevant questions to ask.  These are, by the way, exactly the sort of questions your child will need to know the answers to if they have this book to study at school.

Related: How to Analyse a Novel Part 1

What do you think of the characters?  Are they honest?  What are their main characteristics?
 
Who is the protagonist? (the leading character)
 
Who is the antagonist? (adversary, active opponent)
 
What is the role of the narrator (Nick) in the book? Is this narrative style effective?  Why/Why Not?
Are there limitations to this style of narration?  What are they?
 
How do you feel about the ending?
 
How does Fitzgerald show us his feelings about the 1920s boom and the Roaring Twenties?
 
How are gender relations explored in the book?
 
How is social class explored in the book?
 
How is love explored in the book?
 
Research – Use the internet to find out more about F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Do you think his personal life story had an influence on his writing The Great Gatsby?

Related: How to Analyse a Novel Part 2

 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Background to the Book

Set in the Great Depression of the 1930s, the background to the book is the story of migrant ranch workers who trek from place to place in the search of work.  Conditions are harsh, times are hard.  The story centres on the relationship between Lennie, who has what we would class today as severe learning difficulties, and George who has committed to looking after him.

The Lesson

Read the book.  Watch the video clip.  Then discuss the book together.  Whilst you want to hear ideas and personal responses, try to keep a loose framework to the discussion.  Here are some ideas of relevant questions to ask.  These are, by the way, exactly the sort of questions your child will need to know the answers to if they have this book to study at school.

What do you think of the characters?  What are their main characteristics? Is George fair to Lennie?
 
Who is the protagonist? (the leading character)
 
Who is the antagonist? (adversary, active opponent)
 
How do you feel about the ending?
 
How does Steinbeck present the 1930s depression?
 
How are gender relations explored in the book?
 
How is race explored in the book?
 
How is friendship explored in the book?
 
Research – Use the internet to find out more about John Steinbeck.  Do you think his personal life story had an influence on his writing Of Mice and Men?

Related:7 Ways to Help your Teenager with English Essays

 

A Street Car named Desire by Tennessee  Williams

 Download the Book

Background to the Book

Set in 1940s post-war America, the drama explores the tensions between the old South and the decline of aristocracy (represented by Blanche and Stella) and the new forward-looking America (represented by Stanley). Look out for other themes too; like all classic literature there are multiple ideas in this drama.

The Lesson

Read the book.  Watch the video clip.  Then discuss the book together.  Whilst you want to hear ideas and personal responses, try to keep a loose framework to the discussion.  Here are some ideas of relevant questions to ask.  These are, by the way, exactly the sort of questions your child will need to know the answers to if they have this book to study at school.

What do you think of the characters?    What are their main characteristics?  Why does Blanche lie so much? Why is Stanley so aggressive?
 
Who is the protagonist? (the leading character)
 
Who is the antagonist? (adversary, active opponent)
 
How do you feel about the ending?
 
How does Williams present the tension between the old South and the new America?
 
How are gender relations explored in the book?
 
How is social class explored in the book?
 
How is love explored in the book?
Research – Use the internet to find out more about Tennessee Williams.  Do you think his personal life story had an influence on his writing A Streetcar Named Desire?
 
Related: How to get High Grades in English Literature

I hope you have enjoyed these free lessons, and that they have encouraged you to read and enjoy American Classics, alongside your children.

A Bit About Me

As well as being a mum, grandmother and education blogger, I am the Founder & Managing Partner of The Tutor Team.   We are a family business, where I work with both my daughter Tess and my son Anthony.  I am also assisted by Lisa, my PA.   We are proud to have a team of 55 qualified, experienced teachers and university lecturers offering high-quality private tuition online.

My next blog will be published on Monday 13th April on our social media channels and here on the website.  I’m going to offer you are series of free lessons to help whilst all our children are at home.  The next in the series will be the second free English Lesson – 3 Classic English books for you to read and discuss with your family.

Do you need a qualified, experienced English Tutor to help your children study?

You can choose your tutor here 

Or contact our friendly and knowledgeable office team to get a bespoke tutor match

The Tutor Team Guarantee

We will never offer your child an unqualified student, someone without a police check, or anyone who isn’t experienced.

We only work with highly-qualified, experienced tutors.

How Can We Help You?

Whether you need just one or a whole group of subject specialist tutors, we’re here to help.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Scroll to Top

important: Covid-19

If your child’s school has closed due to Coronavirus or their education is being disrupted, we can help.

Our experienced online Tutor Team is skilled at delivering high-quality, one-to-one lessons online.  

Contact us here for a friendly chat about how we can support you and your child.