Sarah's life

[Episode 21 | 1808 : Sarah]

Sarah is dropped off at her new place of employment but makes a poor first impression on her new employer, Mrs Owen. While doing her chores she meets Mrs Owen's sickly daughter Alice.


The Australian curriculum: English

Show curriculum details

The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Child labour
Show details
Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Social order and education
  • Prior to watching this episode and the clip, research historical and social background information about the practice of child labour in Australia in the early 19th century. Ask students to find out what laws have been put in place to protect children. Find examples from literature that describe the use of child labour in this era. Some examples are Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, For the term of his natural life by Marcus Clark and the television series of Albert Facey's A Fortunate Life. As a class, ask students to suggest some reasons why Australia decided to end child labour.
  • After watching the clip Sarah's life put students into pairs and ask them to list all the different chores that Sarah does in the clip. Ask them to make a second list of chores they do around the home and compare the two lists. Refer students to Student Activity Sheet: E21.1: Child labour.
  • Ask students to focus on the appearance of the character Sarah. Point out to them that she is dirty, unkempt, has tucked her hair under a bonnet, doesn't have any proper shoes and has only one set of clothes, which are falling apart. Compare how Sarah is dressed with the way Mrs Owen and Alice dress. Ask students to describe their physical appearance and account for the differences. Students are to record their observations on Student Activity Sheet: E21.1: Child labour.

  • Ask students are to imagine they are Sarah and then write a diary entry for her first week at the Owens' farm. They should include in their diary entry the events leading up to her arrival and state the reason why she bit Mrs McCarthy.


Activity 2: Language and power
Show details
Subtheme(s): Language and scripting; Relationships; Social order and education
  • Introduce students to the concept of 'powerful language', that is, words and expressions that people in positions of power use in order to command respect and create a sense of authority. Focus on the use of the imperative verb.
  • As a class, brainstorm a series of commands and imperatives, for example: 'Sit down', 'Copy this out', 'Be quiet' and 'Don't talk'.
  • Draw students' attention to the beginning of the clip when Mrs Owen first addresses Sarah. Ask students the following questions:
  1. How is Sarah expected to address Mrs Owen? How is this different from Episode 20 when the grown-up Sarah addresses Mrs Owen?
  2. According to Mrs Owen, what is the first thing that Sarah 'needs to learn'?
  3. At the end of the clip, what does Alice tell Sarah to do?
  4. How does the language used by Mrs Owen and Alice show that they are in charge of Sarah?

  • Persuasive texts
    Ask students to write two short speeches in which they ask someone for assistance to complete a task. In the first they should use an assertive and authoritative voice to make their appeal. In the second they should ask politely for help. Ask students to highlight the words in each that make each request more or less assertive.
  • In pairs, ask students to role-play both situations and decide which form of speech is the most effective in terms of persuading people to help.


{tpl region name=footerbottom}