Jean and Matt’s English Class 13: American Family Business (and politics)

Ninmen Hao,

in today’s class, we are going to talk about American family business and politics.

In Part One, we will read parts of the drama “Family Business’ from the pre-intermediate Face2Face book, and do the discussion exercises.

In Part Two, we will read the South China Morning Post article “Trump’s Family Values”, and discuss the journalist’s arguments about American politics and the press. We will also talk about his presidency and what it means for some of America’s different groups.

Part One: American family business 

family business

Let’s read the character descriptions together, and then the first part of the drama below.

“Family Business” story part one (R6.6, page 150)

Clive: Hello, Lydia. What happened at the bank this afternoon?

Lydia: Bank managers. They’re all idiots.

Clive: Oh dear. We can’t borrow any more money, is that what you’re saying/

Lydia: Of course that’s what I’m saying. And if we don’t start paying them back soon, they’re going to close this restaurant.

Clive: Oh, no. They can’t do that!

Lydia: Yes, they can. And they will. In two weeks.

Darren: Hi, Mum.

Lydia: Hello, Darren.

Darren: How did it go at the bank?

Lydia: Oh, don’t ask.

Darren: Don’t worry, thing’s’ll get better. And soon.

Lydia: I hope so. How many customers have we got in today?

Clive: Er… six.

Lydia: Six? Is that all? I bet The Angel has more than 6 customers.

Darren: Yes, it’s full. I walked past a few minutes ago. There were people waiting outside.

Lydia: Oh, dear. If we don’t get our customers back, we’re going to have to close the restaurant.

Darren: That won’t happen, Mum, I promise you. 

Clive: Darren, those are for table two. And they want a bottle of house red. Come on, hurry up, we still have some people to look after …

Darren: OK, I’m going. 

Trudy: Hi, Dad.

Clive: Hello, Trudy. How are you?

Trudy: Yeah, not bad. Hey, guess what? I’ve got a job!

Lydia; For how long, we wonder …

Clive: well done, darling! What kind of job is it?

Trudy: I’m a waitress … at the new restaurant down the street.

Lydia: What! You mean The Angel?

Trudy: Yeah, that’s right. I’m starting on Monday.

Clive: But if you want to be a waitress, why don’t you work here?

Trudy: Because you haven’t got any customers, that’s why. And anyway, I live with you people. I don’t want to work with you as well. I have to go … bye!

Lydia: I don’t believe it… that … woman!

Clive: Calm down … at least she’s got a job.

Lydia: Not her … Eve King, the woman at The Angel. How could she take my daughter away from me?

Clive: Yes, I know …. but what can you do?

Lydia: I’ll show you what I can do…

Clive: Lydia … Lydia … where are you going?

Pause for reflection

Let’s discuss the following questions (from page 49 of the pre-intermediate Face2Face):

  1. Where are the people?
  2. Which characters are talking?
  3. what do they talk about?

Look at the statements below and decide whether they are true or false

  1. Lydia borrowed some money from the bank this afternoon.
  2. The bank wants to close the restaurant.
  3. The Full Moon has only got eight customers.
  4. The Angel restaurant is full.
  5. Trudy has got a new job.
  6. She’s going to work in a bank.
  7. Lydia is very angry with Eve King.

Work with your small groups to discuss what you think will happen next. Use the characters from the story and make a list of ideas. I will walk around and discuss with you and then we can share with the class.

Let’s read the next part of the story together.

“Family Business” story part two (R6.6, page 150-1)

Kathy: Hello, darling. (Are) You OK?

Darren: Hi, Kathy. Yeah (I’m) fine.

Kathy: Darren, I’m worried. Elizabeth’s not very well.

Darren: Oh, dear. 

Kathy: Shouldn’t you be at work?

Darren: (I’m) Having a break.

Kathy: (Are) You going out?

Darren: Yeah. (Have you) Seen my cigarettes?

Kathy: They’re over there, on the table.

Where are you going, anyway?

Darren: I’m going out. And where’s my lighter?

Kathy: It’s on the table. Darren, what’s going on?

Darren: (I’ve) got some things to do, that’s all.

Kathy: You never spend time with us anymore.

Darren: See you later, Kathy. Bye.

Kathy: Bye. Oh, Elizabeth, I’m so sorry your Dad’s not here with us. But I am… I’ll always be here for you. Now do you want to play with your toys … do you?

Clive: And here’s your receipt.

Customer: Thanks.

Clive: Thanks very much. Come again.

Customer: Thank you, good night.

Clive: Right, that’s the last customer. How much have we made tonight? … $126 … oh, dear, … sorry, we’re closed … oh, it’s you Darren. Where did you go?

Darren: (I went) Out. (I) Had things to do. 

Clive: But we had customers.

Darren: (I) Thought you could look after them. There were only six. Where’s Mum?

Clive: She’s … Er … I don’t know … There you are, Lydia. Where have you been?

Lydia: I went for a walk. (I) needed some time to think. Is Trudy home?

Clive: Yes, she’s in her room.

Lydia: Oh, good. I think we all need to talk about things. Darren, can you go and get …

Clive: Sorry, we’re closed …

Lydia: Nick!

Nick: Hi, everyone. How’s business?

Lydia: Nick, darling, I can’t believe it’s you. Where have you been? Why didn’t you call?

Darren: And why have you come back?

Nick: There’s only one reason I’m back.

Clive: What’s that, son?

Clive; Your daughter?

Nick: Yes, Elizabeth. She’s my daughter, not Darren’s. She’ll tell you. I’m Elizabeth’s father.

Lydia: What?

Clive: What’s happening outside?

Nick: There’s a fire down the street. a restaurant, I think. It looked quite bad too. So, how is everyone?

Let’s see. Were any of our ideas about what might happen correct?

Now let’s answer the following questions:

  1. Why is Kathy worried?
  2. What is Darren looking for?
  3. Does Darren stay at home with his wife and daughter?
  4. How much money did the restaurant make this evening?
  5. Where did Lydia go?
  6. Who’s the last person to arrive at the restaurant?
  7. Why did he come back?
  8. What’s happening outside?

“Trump Family Values”

An article by Donald Kirk, 18 Nov 2017


Americans like to believe their experiment in democracy is a global trend-setter. If there’s one particular sin they love to point out, it’s that of nepotism. Look at all these terrible dictators appointing their relatives to high positions, they say with righteous indignation. Why can’t they be more like us – democratic, fair-minded, egalitarian, fair and just?

No powerful global leader, however, is guiltier of the sin of nepotism than Donald Trump. He seems to think his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, qualifies as a top adviser on just about everything. Kushner sits in on sessions involving domestic and foreign policy, [and] has a “secret” security clearance …

Kushner owes his high-level connection to his marriage to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, creator of a brand of women’s high fashion. She too qualifies, in her father’s opinion, as a senior … adviser Neither she, nor her father, nor her husband see any conflict of interest inherent in her firm’s relying on ill-paid workers in …(China, Bangladesh, etc) to produce the clothing that her company purveys, while Daddy promotes Made in America Week” – urging manufacturers to make their products on US soil. 

Pause for Reflection: Let’s review the words or phrases that may be unfamiliar, then we can read the next section

jtjrThen there’s Donald Jr, in the headlines, … for his secret talks with some Russian lawyer who was supposed to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton long before last November’s presidential election.

Those are just the most obvious examples of beneficiaries of the Trump family nepotism.

The … reports have had a terrible effect on Trump’s presidency. Not only is he immensely unpopular, he is also unable to ram through important legislation on which he campaigned and has staked his presidency. Some of this legislation – such as his attempt to replace Obamacare with Trumpcare, a national health insurance scheme that would leave more Americans without access to proper care – is terrible. Perhaps it’s just as well he’s not able to do what he wants.

Pause for Reflection: Let’s review the words or phrases that may be unfamiliar from this second section, then we can read the last section below

There may, however, be an upside to the drip-drip of scandals pertaining to the nepotism of Donald Trump. That is, at least the domestic media is on the case.

The US networks have been reporting .. on revelations of who was in the room with Donald Jr when he met the lawyer from Moscow. The New York Times, besides having revealed the meeting in the first place, floods its editorial and op-ed pages with commentaries attacking Trump. The Washington Post is competing with the Times for who can say the most, who can reveal the worst, who can come up with new ways to undermine the president.

Can one imagine such unremitting attacks on the leaders of other countries mired in nepotism with overtones of corruption? Could it be that the US is still setting an example for the freedom of the press? Or is the nepotism of the Trump administration a huge weight on the democratic process?

Pause for Reflection: Let’s review the words or phrases that may be unfamiliar from this last section. Then let’s have a small group discussion of the following questions, and after that, we can discuss together in the class.

  1. What kind of a President is Donald Trump? How would you describe his presidency and leadership?
  2. What problems does nepotism cause for America?
  3. What does the “Made in America” campaign do and why is it a problem for Trump.
  4. Why do you think Americans elected Trump President? What kinds of Americans voted for Trump?
  5. Does America’s free press help the situation? What about social media, like Twitter?
  6. What kind of people is the President opposed to?

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