♦ supplementary materials for “Grafitti Deaths”

• Two pages of supplementary material have been uploaded and linked to the “Short Story,” “Death of Three Graffiti Artists” — a conversation and writing activity and some vocabulary notes.

• The conversation and writing activity is based on readers’ and listeners’ comments about articles and broadcasts reporting the accident. I have quoted from those comments quite extensively without asking the permission of newspapers or broadcasters, so this is perhaps a good place to mention that, generally speaking, flesl.net policy on copyright matters is strict. In the paired stories and the other readings, all the prose is original, the only exceptions being occasional short passages, mainly quotes from statements by the subjects of the stories — and these have always been placed in quotation marks and properly attributed. (I am not certain, incidentally, who owns the copyright of comments posted on websites but it seems reasonable to assume that neither the comment writers nor the owners of the media would object to the moderate use of such content for educational purposes.)

• As a result of working on the conversation and writing activity, I came to see that web comments can have a real value for ESL instruction. In these excerpts at least, the English is clear and grammatical; it is also colloquial and so is a source of practical and contemporary vocabulary not likely to be found in standard ESL readings. Moreover comments on a controversial issue like graffiti are bound to contain numerous strongly worded expressions of opposing opinions and are therefore a useful tool for encouraging student conversation and enlivening student writing.

• The purpose of the vocabulary notes page is to provide teachers or independent students with a ready-made and annotated list of vocabulary items that might be worth discussing before or after reading the text. The six annotated items are followed by an unnannotated list of twelve words which might not be familiar to the intermediate (or “lower-intermediate”) students for whom this reading is most appropriate but which, unlike the annotated items, present no problems that could not quickly be solved by using a dictionary. There could also be a vocabulary page like this one to accompany the conversation and reading page; if anyone were to send me one I would be pleased to consider publishing it on flesl.net. (And grammar notes would be useful here too, especially since the English in the excerpts has not been corrected.)