Samuel Beckett(1906-1989)Act Without Words(1957)Non-verbal communication
AbstractDuring this Teaching Unit students will beencouraged to think about the importanceof non-verbal communication in our livesstarting from the analysis of a play writtenby one of the most influentialrepresentatives of The Theatre of theAbsurd, a literary trend of the second halfof the 20th century focusing ondegradation and destruction of languagedeprived of its communicative function.
Target and Timing• Target: 5th grade students of a generalupper secondary school specialising inforeign languages (Liceo linguistico)• Cefr Level: B2 and above• Expected Timing: 3 or 4 class periods
Specific Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:• use strategies before, during, and after readingto aid in the construction and enhancement ofmeaning• respond in discussions and writing about worksof fiction and/or non fiction using personal andinterpretative stances• identify the key concepts in extended speechand interpret written texts on a wide range oftopics• illustrate topics related to different areas ofinterest explaining their point of view backing uptheir argument describing pros and cons
Cross-curricular Objectives• enhance personal communicative skillsalso by means of computers and allavailable technologies• improve cultural awareness andexpression• increase self-awareness and the ability tobe actively involved in the learningprocess (learning to learn)
Instructional Objectives• identify the writing conventions of dramaas a genre, with particular reference to theTheatre of the Absurd• evaluate the relevance of the title to thesituation in the play• explain how the play represents theabsurdity of human existence and the lackof communication between individuals inModern society
ProcedureSteps in developing the lessons1. WARM UP ACTIVITIES:- Internet Scavenger Hunt: Ss are asked to research on the net to find out more information about the author (Group-work).By the end of the inquiry Ss are supposed to create a Power Point presentation or a Digital MindMap to illustrate their findings to the whole class.- After the research stage T may propose to Ss gathered in 2 or 3 teams to play a quiz like TrivialPursuit dividing the questions by topics/categories assigning a reward for each right answer-Anticipating the play:• Ss are asked to make predictions about the play departing from its title:• T write on the board discussion points and divide students into small groups to discuss thesepoints for a few minutese.g. What do you think is the focus of this play? Do you think the title is connected with the content ofthe play? Can you guess who is the protagonist? What is the setting?)• Ss are asked to discuss these points at first in groups and then with the whole class with aspokesman for each group
Main FocusWorking on Drama:• Ss are asked to watch a YouTube video reproducing a performance of Act Without WordsAct Without Words• Whole Class Discussion:• After having watched the video Ss are asked to talk about their personal response to the play and to discuss howthe author represents time, place and characters.Suggested questions: Where does the action take place? Describle the main and only character of the play / Makea list of the objects lowered on the stage / What does whistles signal?• T might ask Ss to fill in the blanks of a short paragraph about the main features of the playThis play is about ______________________ (a person) who tries to ________________ and/but after___________________ ends up ________________ because_______________ ________________________________.Suggested solution: This play is about a lonely man who tries to find some comfort but after failing repeatedlyends up completely alone because life is cruel.
Follow-up Activity• Creative Writing:• Since Act Without Words is a mime Ssdivided into small groups are asked towrite a script for this play includingdialogue and adding characters to thecast. In order to accomplish this task Ssshould also produce a storyboardincluding cartoon bubbles and headings.By the completion of the project eachgroup is supposed to illustrate it to thewhole class.
Further Activities• Ss are asked to consider the importanceof non-verbal communication relating it totheir everyday behaviour, evaluating howcultural differences in appropriate bodylanguage can cause discomfort ormisunderstanding and linking it to thelearning of a foreign language.• To accomplish this task Ss working with apartner are asked to read an article aboutthis topic and answer to a readingcomprehension questionnaire includingalso multiple choice questions.
Reading ComprehensionExcerpt from the article Ss are supposed to read:BODY LANGUAGEWhen we communicate with others, we express our thoughts andfeelings not only through the words we choose, but also through ourtone of voice, facial expression and body language. In fact, manycommunications experts believe that far more information iscommunicated non-verbally (without words) than verbally (withwords). "Body language" is an important part of non-verbalcommunication....To learn another language is more than just learning words andgrammar, it involves learning about another culture, too. We learnmuch of our own cultures body language before we learn to speak,from the time we are children, usually without even being aware ofit. And that body language varies from culture to culture, so itssomething to which second language learners should pay attention....Sometimes, cultural differences in appropriate body language cancause discomfort or misunderstandings too...
QuestionnaireANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:1. How do we express our feelings and thoughts when we communicate with others?2. Why should we pay attention to body language?3. What aspects of our everyday physical behaviour does body language include?4. Most people will understand cultural mistakes with body language, so:a. We dont need to pay much attention to a new cultures body language.b. We should be extremely careful about our use of body language in a new culture.c. We should learn about a new cultures body language but not worry too much about making mistakes.5. How can television or video help us understand more about body language?6. Explain why cultural differences in appropriate body language can cause discomfort giving examples.7. Do speakers of the same language use the same body language?8. Is it worth learning cultural or regional attitudes?9. All native English speakers use the same body language :a. Yesb. Doesnt sayc. No10. Which one of the following is not an example of body language?a. The way we standb. The words we usec. The way we use our hands
Homework• Students are asked to write a short report,based on a layout, about what emergedfrom the class discussion and theirpersonal opinions about the themesproposed.
Expansion• Play review:Ss working in small groups are asked to take therole of critics and review Becketts play, ifpossible using a multimedia file.• Interdisciplinary project:Since the play was originally written in Frenchbeing translated into English by Beckett itself,collaborating with the French teacher, I mightpropose Ss a comparative literature projectworking on Becketts works but also on plays ofthe French Absurdist playwright Eugène Ionescoaimed at producing a digital file containinghyperlinks.
Methods• Inductive and Deductive methods (meaningful and mechanicalpractice)• Communicative approach (exposing learners to the target languageas much as possible through the use of realia)• Student-centered approach (active and cooperative learningactivities):- learning together- student team learning- group investigation- project work- active reading and writing- whole class discussion- educational games
ADAPTATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS FOR STUDENTSWITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS (SEN)Teaching strategies used with students with Specific Learning Disabilities(SLD) or students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):- Combine communicative and learner-centered approaches- Make activities concise and short and modify assignments if necessary(considering the student learning style)- Plan to repeat instructions or add information in both written and verbalformats- Adjust work time (taking into account that frequent breaks are required)- Provide disabled students with frequent progress checks- Encourage cooperative learning activities getting the student involved inactivities with other students- Limit the amount of homework- Provide opportunities for the student to self-select some activities to bepursued independently
Materials and ResourcesPrinted resources:TextbooksLiterary anthologiesCommentaries and articlesWorksheetsConcept/mind maps (either printed or in digital format)RealiaMultimedia-laboratory resources:Educational softwareInteractive Multimedia Whiteboard (IWB)Computer with Internet AccessLanguage labAudio/visual resourcesLessons in Power Point
Assessment• Formative assessment (assessing the masteryof skills through oral and written languageproduction tests)• Summative assessment evaluating thedevelopment of learners (proficiency usingspecified procedures and/or conductinginvestigation, mastery of content knowledge,reasoning proficiency, ability to create adequateproducts)• Self-assessment activities (content-based andlanguage-based feedback on classroomactivities)