What is he saying?

Topic: First Contacts
Student activity

Students practise using the convict’s flash language in context.

This is the student activity 1 of 6 of the Talkin’ like a convict learning activity.

Task No. 1

What is he saying?

Teachers note: Download and print Resource 1: Dictionary of Criminal Slang and Resource 2: The Mock Trial with character speech bubbles.

Look at this painting The Mock Trial, 1812 by Francis Greenway. Read more information about this painting here.

Item 1: The mock trial, 1812 / painted by Francis Greenway

Use the list of flash language words from Activity 2 (or use Resource 1: Dictionary of Criminal Slang) to complete the speech bubbles where the ‘characters’ are conversing using flash language in these four scenes from life in gaol in England, from Resource 2: The Mock Trial with character speech bubbles. 

Investigate what is happening in each of these scenes. Look at the details. You might like to have some characters thinking or commenting to themselves, rather than speaking out loud.

Consider these questions:

  • What crimes might these convicts have committed to be in gaol?
  • Are there any more crimes being committed while they speak?
  • What were the conditions like in gaols in England at this time?
  • Are these convicts headed to NSW?
  • Who might they be leaving behind?
  • How might they be feeling?

Perhaps, turn these scenes into a class play then perform it.