Sweeney and Todd is a well-known pie restaurant in Reading, UK. In 2015, I went there with my brother and we were served by the proprietor, June. As you can see, June is a bit of a star. And she allowed me to film her at work.
- Activity: Listening; role play
- Topic: Restaurants (and pies)
- Age group: Teens & adults
- Time: 30 minutes (+ follow up)
- Language level: B1 +
- Language: Language for ordering in a restaurant
Notes about the activity
June’s video provides a lot of challenges for language teachers. There are many cultural words and ideas that you will have to deal with. These include:
- Reference to the Five and Six nations rugby competition
- The name of the restaurant (Sweeney and Todd)
- Low frequency language items such as rump (steak), under the crust, stilton, gravy, etc.
I suggest giving students some time to work with the text and make their own decisions about words, phrases and functional language that they would like to take away from it. You can then move on to the role play follow up.
There are also some features of June’s language that you can draw attention to:
- She has an accent from South West England.
- She refers to Jamie as ‘love’. (Jamie liked that!) She also uses the adjective ‘lovely’ quite a lot.
- The Sweeney and Todd menu refers to the pies in one way but June refers to them in another. (Menu: ‘Rump steak with mushroom’; June: ‘Rump steak and mushroom’). Learners are often led to believe that there is one correct way to express things. But the truth is that language is often inconsistent.
- June often misses out the subject + auxiliary. She says: ‘Got lamb and mint’ instead of ‘We’ve got lamb and mint.’ This is a common feature of spoken language.
Finally, there is a lot of reference to meaty pies in this activity. Out of courtesy, make sure that the vegetarians in your class are happy for you to use it. Also note that in many islamic cultures/contexts, pigs and pork is a taboo subject.
June: Hello. Would you like to order? Are you ready to order?
Jamie: Yeah, what are your pies that you’ve got today?
June: We’ve got rump steak with stilton; We’ve got venison and wild boar; Steak with mushroom; Got anniversary: rump steak, baby mushrooms, bacon, port, stilton under the crust; We’ve got a hot one: chicken, chile with chorizo; Got lamb and mint; Steak with ale; We’ve got a new venison one: venison, red wine, black cherries and leeks; Or we’ve got a beef, bacon and pancetta which is lovely and black pudding; Or we’ve got cheese with vegetable; And steak with kidney; Or lots of others
Jamie: Do you know what you wait?
Alastair: Yeah, can I have the rump steak and stilton, please?
June: Rump steak with stilton?
June:What about for yourself love?
Jamie: The anniversary, why’s it called anniversary?
June: We made it when we were here 30 years but it’s now 37 years. We just make it weekends because it’s very popular but it costs quite a lot to make. So we just do it weekends.
Jamie: And the five nations. Why’s that called five nations?
June: Rugby. It’s made with Guinness, leeks, garlic, mustard and steak, each representing each nation. We have Scottish beef, English mustard, leeks for Wales, Guinness for Ireland, and garlic for France. We haven’t gone to six nations yet. We’re going to keep it at that.
Jamie: If you go for Italy, what will you put in it for Italy?
June: Well, somebody said tomatoes or pancetta or some sort of cheese. But I think we’ll just keep it as it is, really.
Jamie: So, I think I’m going to be boring and just have the same.
June: Rump steak with stilton?
Jamie: Yes, sorry about that.
June: That’s all right. Best pie we make. That’s lovely.
Jamie: Is that your most popular pie?
June: Yeah, it is.
Jamie: Oh, consistent.
June: Yeah, it’s a lovely one as well. Anything else. Jug of gravy for the table, maybe?
Jamie: Yeah. Go on then.
June: Lovely. Thank you very much
Jamie: Thank you very much
Alastair: A bit hot
Jamie: It is good?
Alastair: Mmmmm. Hot!
Note: I originally posted June’s video on this page without a lesson plan. I invited you to leave comments and say what you would do with it in your classroom. You can still see the comments below. Thanks for the ideas! :)