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English - Avast ye! 'Ere be booty

What it's all about

There is always a rhythm to the school session, as festivals, special days and themed events punctuate and add variety to the passing year. The most obvious are Harvest Festival, Remembrance, Children in Need, Christmas . but there's enthusiasm from pupils and teachers alike for International Talk Like a Pirate Day, writes Geoff Barton.

It's surprisingly easy to summon up the rhythms and vocabulary of pirate talk. Hundreds of websites on the topic are conveniently gathered at

The basics seem to include: "Ahoy" (hello); "Avast" (an expression of surprise); "Aye aye" (strong affirmation); and the hugely versatile "Arrrr" (yesI'm happyclever you). Advanced users might deploy "beauty" (for a woman), "bilge rat" (a term of abuse) and "lubber" (someone who doesn't go to sea, so pejorative).

This is rich terrain for language study (S1-3). Pupils can research pirate lingo and translate standard English expressions into "piratese".

Then they might investigate characterisation. Pirates remain generally bad, doing nasty things to people. Why, then, do they so often achieve a positive, even comic presentation in literature - like the Ahlbergs' Burglar Bill? How do writers achieve this?

Pupils could also explore the associations of the word "pirate" (pirate radio, pirate copies, pirating movies, South Sea pirates) and think of all the references they can recall from books and films.

What else?

Revise rhyme, rhythm and more with TESEnglish `s pirate language lesson, bit.lyO8CNED. Introduce literature to your Year 7s (P7s) with riacymru's Treasure Island resource pack, bit.lyP1ohy3.

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