A Train in Africa

story by Elizabeth Williams , illustrated by Greg Holfeld

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to vary my writing style so that I can match the intended topic, purpose and audience.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify which text type a text is.
  • I can explain what gives a text authority.
  • I can write an information report to provide additional details for a narrative text.

Essential knowledge:

  • More information about the factors that make a text trustworthy can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Authority.

Read the story aloud to the class and view the accompanying illustrations. Alternatively, if you have a digital subscription, you can listen to the audio recording on The School Magazine’s website.

After reading the story, ask students the following questions:

  • Is this a fiction or nonfiction text? (Fiction, based on a real event.)
  • What text type is it? (It is a narrative.)
  • How do you know? (It has a beginning, middle and an end and describes the characters’ thoughts and feelings. It does not contain many facts and details about the Train of Hope because this information is not important to the main characters Bongani and Ugogo.)

Once you have established that this is a fiction text and contains the textual features of a narrative, draw students’ attention to Jool’s call out box on page 23:

You can discoverrr more about the Train of Hope if you search on the internet. It’s such a wonderrrful scheme!

Discuss the authority of Jool’s opinion with the class. Is this one sentence assessment of the Train of Hope (that it is a wonderful scheme) trustworthy? Explain that students need to consider certain factors when assessing whether they can trust an opinion: is the person an expert, is it written in the correct style and does it draw information from an appropriate website? Students should conclude that Jools is not an expert and doesn’t provide enough research. Therefore, Jools does not give a trustworthy opinion. (Challenge: you may want to explain to students that Jool’s hasn’t been given the space to have authority over the text. She cannot explain a reliable opinion in one sentence.)

Explain that students will listen to a radio program from a reliable website which provides a lot of information about Phelophepa – The Train of Hope.

The World in Progress: South Africa’s train of hope

The news source is Deutsche Welle (DW), a German state-owned international broadcaster. It is like the BBC or our ABC. Listen to the six-minute episode with the students. While they are listening, or after the broadcast, compile a list of facts about Phelophepa. These include:

  • The size of the train (19 carriages)
  • The services offered (a huge range including optical, dental, psychology and even oncology)
  • The number of patients seen (200 000 each year)
  • The locations it visits (70 different stops)
  • The cost for patients (60 Euro cents, which is approximately 95 Australian cents)

Once the class has developed a comprehensive list of facts about the Phelophepa, explain that students will write their own afterword to the story. This afterword will be structured as an information report and, by using the details in the DW broadcast, have authority.

Provide a success criteria for the afterword to scaffold student responses. For example:

  • A short title that tells the reader the subject of the report.
  • An introductory sentence that gives a general statement about the subject.
  • Two or three short paragraphs that provide essential facts and details about the subject.
  • A concluding sentence that gives an assessment on the subject.
  • Uses the following language features: noun groups, present tense, action word groups.