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Helping Students Discover Literary Works in Adapted Novels Presentation elaborated by VioricaCondrat lecturer at Alecu Russo State University Workshop Up-to-Date Techniques and Strategies in Teaching English, English Language Teachers’ Association April 9th, 2011
Introductory remarks Today’s presentation was designed as a guideline for enhancing the reading competence with intermediate students. Its primary focus is to improve the reading abilities. Yet, it should be done in such a way that it boosts the other three skills as well. Thus, an integrative method is best suited. At the same time, activities were thought to develop the students’ creativity. As is known, this is a way to make one’s classes more interesting, and, thus, increasing the students’ motivation. An issue which I tried to deal with is: “How to make students like discovering literary texts.” Nowadays, the big number of audiobooks can be of great help in enhancing the listening competence. I have chosen Jane Austen’s novel, because of the success her works still are. Besides, there are so many movies based on her books which might also serve as a support for the lesson.
Is Jane Austen the best choice? Jane Austen is a timeless classic whose novels still thrill and excite the modern reader. She vividly depicts the sophisticated atmosphere of her time and the intricate relations existing between the people of the higher society. It is interesting to note that Jane Austen wrote her books in an age of turmoil, an age where the French Revolution shook Europe and shocked the aristocrats by the power of masses. Yet, Jane Austen is so detached from this. Her novels are calm instances of the society confronting their everyday needs. What she cherished was the beauty of a serene family life. She understood its utmost importance in a person’s life and she promoted family values. Although she never married she strove for her female characters’ happiness in marriage.
Materials needed: Jane Austen’s adopted novel “Emma” retold by Margaret Turner, Macmillan; The CD of the book; The film “Emma” (1996);
Tell the students that this is a story of a young spoilt but very intelligent girl who likes matchmaking.
Explain what matchmaking is and let the students decide whether it is good or bad to match make. What can it result into?
Introduce the names of the main characters, and make them guess whom would Emma try to marry next and with whom.
Jane Fairfax Mr. Elton Harriet Smith George Knightly Frank Churchill
Activity 2 Getting acquainted with the characters. Listen to the first chapter and say who:
hates changes in life
is short and plump but not very clever
Is in charge of everything in the house because her mother died
wants Frank Churchill to marry Emma
does not approve of Emma’s friendship with Harriet
often thinks he is ill
criticizes Emma whenever she is wrong
made the match between Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston
promises to visit his father and step mother as soon as he can
Describe the following characters. Are they positive or negative characters? Emma Mr. Woodhouse George Knightly
Activity 3 Making up dialogues for the characters. Show the passage in the film when Mr. Knightly comes into the room after the Westons’ wedding. Turn the sound off, then ask the students to get into small groups of three and tell them to act out what happened on the screen. Ask them to use some of the following sentences in their dialogues:
One of the two people are troublesome
He is always finding fault with me
I made the match between Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor
You are always right
If you want to help Mr. Elton invite him to dinner
That is a much better idea
Let him find his own wife
Who cried the most at the wedding?
I shall miss her so
Triumph? That was a lucky guess.
It’s Mr. Elton who deserves our pity.
After you have listened to the students versions, listen to the original.
Activity 4 Ask the students to fill in the missing words and then act out the dialogue in pairs. They should pay attention to the intonation they are using:
Mr. Elton. …………………
Miss Woodhouse, ………………… you, indeed, for including me. A party is a ………………, but a party on a summer’s eve, hm!
It relieves my mind very much that you are here. There’s someone ……………… here. Her name is Harriet Smith and she’s a former pupil of Mrs. Goddard. I haven’t met Miss Smith before this evening and I’m already struck by her ……………………I wonder if I might ask you to make certain she’s at ease throughout the evening.
If helping Miss Smith would ……………………Miss Woodhouse, then I’m happy to be of service.
Come, I’ll make the ……………………
Watch the conversation taking place between the characters in the film. See if the variants coincide. Draw special attention to the suprasegmental level of the language.
Activity 5 Make the students fill in the gaps and decide what the conversation between the two people is going to be about. The next day, Mr. Knightly called at Hartfield. Emma was surprised when he………………………….. ”You have been a good friend to Harriet Smith”, he said. “And now I think that she will have some good news for you.” Emma was surprised. Had Mr. Elton been talking to Mr. Knightly about ……………..? Watch the entire dialogue and say who produced the words below. Say whom you agree with. Justify your answer. The most incomprehensible thing in the world to a man is a woman who rejects his offer of marriage; Vanity working on a week mind produces every kind of mischief; You dismiss her beauty and good nature. Yet, I wouldn’t be very much mistaken if your sex in general does not think those claims are the highest a woman could possess; Men of sense whatever you may say do not want silly wives. Believe me when I tell youthat he may talk sentimentally but he will act rationally.
Activity 6 Divide the class in two groups. Let them listen to the passage from the third chapter about drive to the Christmas party at Randalls. By the evening, the weather was extremely cold. Mr. Woodhouse, Emma, Isabella and her husband were going to travel from Hartfield to Randalls in two carriages. Mr. Woodhouse went in his own carrige with Isabella> Emma went with John Knightly in his carriage and they drove to the vicarage to collect Mr. Elton. The vicar was waiting them with a happy smile. He smiled at Emma the way to Randalls and did not stop praising her.. John Knightly listened, but he saud nothing. Emma was worried: Did Mr. Elton think she loved him? No! It was impossible. Ask each group to assign per on representative who would come and listen to what happened on their way home while the students put down their own predictions. The students go back and tell their fellow students what happened in the carriage. Let them compare their variants and then let them make out a written account of the events. After that show the dialogue (5).
Activity 7 Describing Jane Fairfax. Ask the students to take as much information as possible from both the film (6) and the CD (ch. 5). What information was more explicit? Ask them to divide the page in two and put down all the reasons why Emma does not like Jane. She is more giving than I expected She is absolutely impossible Discussion session. Do you agree with Emma? Why / Why not? Do you agree with Mr. Knightly? Why / Why not? How would you describe Jane Fairfax? Why did Mr. Knightly tell Emma about Mr. Elton’s marriage?
Activity 8 Make up a situation consisting of the following sentences.
She seems to receive ample attention from you.
Jane Fairfax is a very charming young woman.
I have admiration for her but no thought beyond.
People think that Mr. Knightly is in love with Mr. Knightly. Listen to the dialogue of Mr. Knightly, Mrs. Weston and Emma. Do you agree with Mrs. Weston or Emma? Why? Comment upon Emma’s reaction.
Activity 9 The silly character. There is one silly character depicted in the book. This is Miss Bates, an unmarried woman who lives with her mother. Her niece is Jane Fairfax. She is very proud of her niece and always keeps mentioning her in conversations. This annoys Emma. While invited to a picnic Emma hurts Miss Bates’ feelings by telling her that she says only silly things. In your opinion what was her best friend’s reaction. Tell what her best friend has told her upon this. Watch the passage and say if you agree with Emma’s friend or not (9). Imagine a situation when Emma was called to court for having insulted Miss Bates. Make an imaginary trial and decide if Emma should be punished and how.
Activity 10 People are shocked to learn that Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill were secretly engaged. They think that Emma must suffer a lot. However she doesn’t as she had no feelings for Frank Churchill. She realizes she is in love with somebody else. Say who he and if he feels the same about her. Justify your answer. Ask a volunteer to come in front of the class. That person is the only one who would listen to the conversation between the two people. In between, the other students should prepare a 10 questions they will ask in order to find out who the person is, where the place is and what they talk about. However, the questions should not contain names, as Is this Mr. Elton? or What did he say? Listen to the dialogue and discuss what you see. At the end you might see if you were good matchmakers from the very beginning. As a home assignment ask your students to make a project about this timeless classic by Jane Austen. They might focus on characters as in the following example.