The Kangaroo in the Jacket (elementary text)
Andrew Wright

This Manchester family went on holiday to Australia.  They hired a car for a month and went to many different parts of the country.   In Australia the kangaroos jump across the road.  Sometimes there are accidents; cars drive into the kangaroos.
This Manchester family hit a kangaroo.  It fell on the road behind them. They stopped the car and went back to look at the animal.  It lay on the road.
The man was a funny man; in English we call him a ‘joker’.   He took off his jacket and he put it on the kangaroo.  Then he lifted up the kangaroo and said to his wife, “Quick!  Take a photograph!”  He thought it was funny!  I don’t think it’s funny!
But the kangaroo wasn’t dead.  Suddenly it opened its eyes, looked around and then jumped!   And it kept on jumping!   It jumped away across the desert.  But it was wearing the man’s jacket!   And in the jacket was the man’s passport, all his money, his glasses and his car keys!
It’s a true story!  A friend of mine told me!

Comment on the language
‘This Manchester family’ very common use of ‘this’ in contemporary oral storytelling.

Kangaroo in the Jacket  (lower intermediate text)
Andrew Wright

Some friends of mine from Manchester went on holiday to Australia. They hired a car for one month; it’s a good way to see a country. In Australia you must be careful!  The kangaroos can jump across the road!  It’s very dangerous!  One day this Manchester family were driving along when a kangaroo came bouncing across the desert, hit the car and went over the top.  The driver looked in his mirror and saw the kangaroo; it was lying on the road.  So he stopped the car.
They went back and looked at the kangaroo.
Now the man was a bit of a joker.  He took off his jacket, lifted up the kangaroo, put its legs through the sleeves of the jacket, picked it up and said to his wife, “Quick!  Take a photograph!”
He thought it was funny!  But the kangaroo wasn’t dead!  It was just a little bit unconscious.  Suddenly, it lifted its head, blinked and then jumped away across the desert!
It was wearing the man’s jacket!  In the pockets of his jacket were his car keys, passport and all his money!

Suitable age-range
Children of all ages love this story!

Elementary and upwards.  Two versions given, one is slightly more challenging than the other.

Language focus
This story is rich in verbs of action in the simple past tense.  The story can be told in the present tense.

Social focus
•    The story is usually told as a true story.  This raises the question of, What is a true story?  Stories of this kind are usually known as Urban Legends.
•    The father is a cruel joker but then he suffers…but so does his family!
•    What happens to them?
•    Tell some stories about practical jokes that you have heard.

Teaching ideas
•    You don’t need to prepare but it might be useful to be able to show where Australia is on a map or a globe and to show pictures of the desert and of kangaroos.  You might also bring in your own passport, car keys and purse or wallet of money.
•    Begin by asking what a kangaroo is (animal) and where it lives (Australia, desert) and what it does (eats leaves and grass and jumps).
•    Talk about the desert (hot, dry, doesn’t rain, Aborigine people, mainly flat country)
•    With the class try to draw a kangaroo on the board and in this way use the language for naming parts of the body and the idea of jumping.
•    The first time you tell the story the students can just listen. In order to help the students to understand the story mime the actions as you refer to them.
•    The second time you tell the story you can ask the students to mime the story.  Four chairs can represent a car.
•    Re-telling: the students practice re-telling the story so that they can go home and re-tell the story at home.
•    Re-tell with changes.  The students, in groups of five or six, turn the story into a play and add details, for example, conversation and singing in the car.
•    Writing: the students can write a letter home about the accident and what happened.
•    Topic: a study of animals in Australia.

a study of how animals escape


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