The mysterious affair of how Agatha Christie is teaching foreigners English
Twenty of the author's novels have been adapted and presented with learning notes and a CD
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 15 February 2012
Agatha Christie is about to try to solve a new mystery – the riddle of how to teach foreigners to learn English.
Twenty of her most famous novels are being rewritten in simplified versions so they can be used in the classroom to teach non-native English speakers how to read and speak the language. They will also be accompanied by notes aimed at helping the students gain a greater historical and cultural perspective about the UK and CDs with a reading of the story.
It will, of course, mean that for thousands of people their first taste of English life will be centred on duplicitous murder.
Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, said the idea would have pleased the famous writer. "My grandmother would have quite liked her books being used for the teaching of English she would have thought it a very good idea," he said.
The first batch of novels includes Christie's debut novel and Poirot's first case, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and Miss Marple's first mystery, The Murder at The Vicarage.
Readers will learn that even quaint and quiet early 20th-century vicarages can become the scene for murder most foul.
Collins, the publisher which retains the rights to Christie's novels, believes the new versions of the books could be used in schools and colleges to help non-native speakers master the language. They also believe they offer an attractive package to anyone overseas wanting to learn the language.
Catherine Whitaker, of Harper Collins, rejects the notion that they portray too bloodthirsty an image of life in Britain to new-found readers.
"They're quite genteel and they don't go into gory details," she said. "She has a huge international following, partly through TV adaptations."
The publishers stress that great care has been taken to retain the flair of the original texts. They were initially abridged by professionals who had worked on similar adaptions for radio.
The language was brought up to date from the early 20th century – essential if they were to be used to help people learn English in a modern context.
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...
£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in the devel...