Ashol-Pan is a member of the Kazakh people in the Altai mountains of western Mongolia. What distinguishes Ashol-Pan from other 13-year-old girls is that she is a huntress and her partner is a huge golden eagle! She is believed to be the first female in Mongolia to take part in an activity reserved solely for men in the last 2,000 years. In addition, photographer Asher Svidensky captured breath-taking pictures of Ashol-Pan and her beautiful golden eagle.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia by William Kremer, BBC
“A photographer who snapped what could be the world’s only girl hunting with a golden eagle says watching her work was an amazing sight.
Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill – and he also photographed Ashol-Pan.
The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress…The skill of hunting with eagles, Svidensky says, lies in harnessing an unpredictable force of nature.
You don’t really control the eagle. You can try and make her hunt an animal – and then it’s a matter of nature. What will the eagle do? Will she make it? How will you get her back afterwards?
The eagles are not bred in captivity, but taken from nests at a young age. Female eaglets are chosen since they grow to a larger size –
a large adult might be as heavy as seven kilos, with a wingspan of over 230cm.
After years of service, on a spring morning, a hunter releases his mature eagle a final time, leaving a butchered sheep on the mountain as a farewell present. That’s how the Kazakh eagle hunters make sure that the eagles go back to nature and have their own strong newborns, for the sake of future generations.
He describes Ashol-Pan as a smiling, sweet and shy girl. His photographs of her engaging in what has been a male activity for around 2,000 years say something about Mongolia in the 21st Century.” Read more…
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Ask students to examine the titles of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
Directions: Have students use this KWL chart from Michigan State University to list the information they already know about Mongolia, golden eagles, and hunting. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about these topics.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Most children are a little intimidated by golden eagles.
- Kazakh boys start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares.
- Today there are around 400 practicing falconers.
- A hunt begins with days of trekking on horseback.
- After a fox is spotted, riders charge towards it to flush it into the open.
- The skill of hunting with eagles lies in harnessing an unpredictable force of nature.
- The eagles are not bred in captivity.
- Female eaglets are chosen since they grow to a larger size.
- Hunters make sure that the eagles go back to nature and have their own newborns, for the sake of future generations.
- The generation that will decide what will happen with every tradition.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- Ashol-Pan is from Thailand.
- According to the article Ashol-Pan could be the world’s only girl hunting with a golden eagle.
- The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are one of several groups that hunt with golden eagles.
- They hunt in summer, when the sun is warm for the eagles.
- According to the article the hunters don’t really control the eagle.
- Male eaglets are chosen since they grow to a larger size.
- After years of service a hunter releases his mature eagle back to nature.
- Golden eagles have at least 3 eaglets per year.
- Ashol-Pan is described as a smiling, and assertive.
- Her parents want her to become a doctor.
Using Adjectives to describe pictures
Directions:Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives. Students can share their stories with the class. For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar: Adjectives.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Have students fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
- The article states, “The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress.” How would you put this into your own words?
- The Kazakhs use the golden eagles as a means of hunting for food. Can you think of other groups of people who use animals to assist in hunting?
- It states, “The skill of hunting with eagles, Svidensky says, lies in harnessing an unpredictable force of nature. “You don’t really control the eagle. You can try and make her hunt an animal – and then it’s a matter of nature. What will the eagle do? Will she make it? How will you get her back afterwards?” Based on this information, how difficult would it be to train a golden eagle to hunt? How long do you think it would take you to train an eagle?
- Have you ever hunted in your country? If yes, provide examples. If you have not, would you like to learn how to hunt? Provide reasons for why or why not.
- With your group research what life is like for a teen living in Mongolia today. For example, the types of homes, transportation, foods, clothing, and communication.
IV. Listening Activity
Video Clip: The Eagle Hunters of Mongolia
“This is a digital story about the art and sport of hunting with golden eagles in western Mongolia.”
Listening for New Vocabulary or New Terms
Directions: Here is a list of words from the video. Have students find the meanings before they listen to the video. As students listen, they are to check off the words and phrases as they hear them.
- Altai Mountains
While Listening Activities
Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the video. They are to choose from the options presented.
- The Altai Mountains is also the birthplace of the accident/ ancient art of falconry.
- Today political borders/binders divide the region.
- The nomadic people that residence/reside here live as they always have in conjunction with the land and with nature.
- The people of the Altai maintain/mountain a strong and connected relationship with nature.
- The Kazakhs like many, were persecuted for practicing their cultural/culture traditions.
- One of the highest expressions/express of the culture is the ancient art of eagle hunting.
- Golden eagles are deployed/employed as they are the largest and most powerful of the raptures.
- With the wing span/sprain of up to 8 feet these formidable predators can weight up to 5 kilograms.
- It is the male/female golden eagle that is utilized as they are larger and more aggressive than their male counterparts.
- The eagle is fed/federal grown squirrel and marmot.
Questions for Discussion
Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.
1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of the Kazakhs changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion of them.
2. Did you learn any new information?
3. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the Kazakhs.