Learn English – Sarah answers an ad to be a farmer’s wife

I’m always looking for good books for my grandchildren.  ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ is written for 7-8 year old native speakers to read.  I LOVED it!

In this episode, I tell the story, but leave off the ending.  I believe the plot line will interest both children AND adult learners.  And once they know the general idea of what happens from watching and discussing this video, I think they could read and understand most of the book if they are intermediate learners.


An ad in the newspaper – 12 December 2019

Hey there. Do you like to read? I do. Today I’m going to tell you about a book that I just read that I think you and my seven-year-old granddaughter will like. So, sit back, relax, listen, and just try to understand as much as you can. 

(Intro: English without Fear, where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories.)

Yes,  I just finished this book. Can you see it? It’s called Sarah, Plain and Tall. It’s about a young woman named Sarah who’s tall and she is plain looking. What does it mean to be plain looking?

If someone is plain, that means they are not beautiful, but they’re not ugly. They’re just ordinary, ordinary looking and Sarah is a young woman who’s tall and ordinary looking. 

She lives in the state of Maine, near the beach, near the seaside. Which sea would that be? Which seaside? That would be the Atlantic Ocean.

One day she’s reading a newspaper and she sees an ad, an announcement from a man, a farmer, who lives far away from Maine. He lives in what we call the Midwest, the middle of the United States. And he’s looking for a wife, a new wife, and a mother to his two small children.

Well, that’s strange –  looking, advertising for a wife in the newspaper. Yes, it is strange today, but this farmer and this young woman, Sarah, lived long, long ago in the middle of the eighteen hundreds (1800s), in the middle of the 19th century, around 1840-1850. And when his wife, when the farmer’s wife gave birth to the child, the second child, the little boy, she died, she died in childbirth.

And so the farmer had been raising a baby, now a little boy and another girl, an older girl, and it was really difficult. It was really hard to be a farmer, do his work and take care of the children. So, he needed a new wife.

He put an ad in the paper and Sarah in Maine far away read the ad. She wrote him a letter and said, 

“I would like to know more about you and your children. And do you like cats?”

At this point in the story, the farmer, the dad tells the children about Sarah and he reads them her letter, her answer to his ad. The children are shocked. 

“You mean we might get a new mommy, a new mother? You might marry another woman?”

And the farmer said, “That is what I’m thinking about. What do you want to know about her?”

So, the farmer answered Sarah’s letter, 

“Yes, I like cats.”

Anna, the girl who’s about eight or nine years old, she wrote a letter to Sarah and the little boy Caleb, who was about five, he wrote a letter to Sarah. And Sarah wrote back. So, the family in the Midwest and Sarah wrote letters back and forth and got to know each other. Finally, everybody decides that Sarah should get on the train with her cat and come for a visit, to stay a while, to find out, to see if she liked the family and if they liked her. 

Sarah arrives and she…. the farmer picks her up in a carriage drawn by horses and she comes and meets the children. She stays in the guest room for about six months. 

Well, what happens?

  • Does Sarah like the children, Anna and Caleb?
  • Does her cat get along, does he like the farmer’s dog?
  • Do the children like Sarah? Is she loving?
  • Does she sing? For the farmer, the dad, used to sing all the time with the mom before the mom died. But ever since the mom died, the farmer has not sung.
  • So do Sarah and the farmer sing?
  • Does the farmer like Sarah? 
  • Does he want to marry Sarah?

I’m not going to tell you how it ends. You’ll have to read the book. It is a sweet, delightful book. I think you will like it.

So, if you’re an English language learner, order the book, buy the book, borrow the book from the library. I think you could understand it. It’s written for English-speaking children of around seven, eight years old. But since you now know a story, I think you can understand it. 

And if you’re a teacher of some learners, why not you tell the story to your students? And then afterwards, I think they might be able to read it with some help.

And remember, if you would like the written words, the transcript for this video episode, go to my website, Englishwithoutfear.com and you can find the transcript. You can leave your email and receive my newsletters and a…some tips about how to learn, acquire English, how to teach English. 

And, I think that’s it for this episode. Talk to you next time.

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments. Here’s my mail.)





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