Category Archives: Social Issues

Should Students See Themselves in the Books They Read?

“Reading books by Latina writers taught me our stories were worthy of being told.” V. Matir, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jump Rope – The author and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 1983. Credit: Meryl Meisler

 

Excerpt: I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.

“I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1980s, in what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.  Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble. Playgrounds were overrun by drug dealers. But for me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.

A piraguero (pronounced pee‐rah GWAY‐row)—one of a breed of street vendors that has become a hot‐weather institution in El Barrio

There were piragua carts with multicolored umbrellas selling shaved ice on every corner. The bodeguero Miguel gave my mother credit when our food stamps ran out. The Puerto Rican flag hung from almost every window.

My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971. When I was 2 years old my mother met and fell in love with another woman, Millie, which was then widely considered taboo. Two years later we all moved into a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment.

The paint cracked and peeled off the walls, but we always had food on the table, even if it was white rice, fried eggs and canned corned beef…My life took a turn at 13 when my social studies teacher saw promise in me and suggested I take part in A Better Chance, a program that places low-income minority students in top schools around the country. I applied and was offered a four-year scholarship to attend a boarding-school-type program at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts…

I remember gazing out the window in awe as gorgeous mansions with perfect manicured lawns came into view. I moved into a four-story house with other students complete with a study and fireplace… But I soon realized that I was different. My guidance counselor would often pull me aside and tell me I was ‘too loud’ and ‘too much.’

Two Boys Crossing Gates Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, Vanessa Mártir

Growing up, I’d read the Sweet Valley High series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books. The characters in them didn’t look like me, but I was too young to understand the difference or know it could matter.

One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria, when my English professor, Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name,’ I thought.

I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters, who had fled to the United States from the Dominican Republic with their parents. They went to boarding school and, like me, had trouble fitting in. It began to dawn on me that there must be other writers like Ms. Alvarez out there. I asked teachers for recommendations and dug through the library shelves on campus.

Later I would discover the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Sandra Cisneros.

What was missing for me was the narrative of the Latina who left the ’hood to pursue an education only to find that she no longer fit in anywhere. I was too loud at boarding school and a sellout in the place I had once called home.

For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals and scribble down poems on napkins at bars. On weekends I’d go to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I was in awe of the poets who read their work aloud. I longed to be that brave. I was the only one of my siblings to graduate from college… When I learned I was pregnant in 2003, something inside me shifted. I wanted my daughter to learn by watching her mamá that she could live out her dreams. I dusted off my journals and wrote throughout my pregnancy. My first novel,  A Woman’s Cry, was published in 2007, three years after she was born. After my novel was published I sought out other writers of color. At last I found a place where I felt I belonged.

My mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick. The neighborhood is no longer reminiscent of a war zone…I buy my daughter, who is now 15 years old, books by writers like Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson and Gabby Rivera. I teach writing in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. I know from experience that when children see positive images of themselves reflected in front of the classroom, in books and on the big screen, it can make all the difference. This is how change happens, and it’s how we create a country in which all of us feel we belong. One story at a time.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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.

  1. Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble
  2. For me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.
  3. My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971.
  4. She fell in love with another woman which was then widely considered taboo.
  5. The program placed low-income minority students in top schools.
  6. I remember gazing out the window in awe.
  7. Rosie Perez as Tina in the 1989  film Do The Right Thing was the only exposure to a Latina I had.
  8. One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria.
  9. I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters.
  10. For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with, since,

Additional Prepositions:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_prepositions

I grew up___Bushwick, Brooklyn, ___the 1980s,___what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.

Abandoned buildings loomed ___piles ___garbage and rubble.

My mother migrated ___Honduras___New York___1971.

My life took a turn___13 when my social studies teacher saw promise___me.

Millie’s brother drove me___school ___a beat-up blue Pentecostal church van.

I saw myself reflected___the story___ the Garcia sisters, who had fled ___the United States___the Dominican Republic ___their parents.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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. 

  1. The author grew up in Manhattan, in the 1980s.
  2. The playgrounds were overrun by happy children.
  3. The grocer  Miguel gave the author’s mother credit when their food stamps ran out.
  4. Her mother migrated from  Puerto Rico to New York in 1971.
  5. The mother fell in love with an American man.
  6. The author was offered  a four-year scholarship to Wellesley High School in Massachusetts.
  7. While at Wellesley, the author realized that  she was just like the other students.
  8. Her English professor, Mr. Goddard introduced her to the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alverez.
  9. For years she would chronicle her  joys and heartbreaks in journals.
  10. The author’s  mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick.

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. In your opinion is it important for students to feel  represented by the books they are reading? Why or why not?
  2. Do you see yourself in the books that you read? Name the books.
  3. Are there any authors that you particularly like to read?  Why?
  4. The author states, “Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name” Are there authors from your own country that you enjoy reading? Who are they?
  5. How did you discover the authors that you identify with?
  6. In your opinion, who should be responsible for introducing students to books with which they can identify? For example, parents, teachers, librarians or someone else?
  7. Name at least two things that you have learned form reading this article.

ANSWER KEY

How The New York Times Chooses The Best Photos of 2019

“A painstaking selection process ensures that The Times’s annual visual review highlights the biggest news events and strongest images.” L. Takenaga, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Lesson Plan

Excerpt: From 500,000 Photos to 116: How Our Editors Distill the Year in Pictures, Lara Takenaga, The New York Times

“Umbrella-wielding protesters engulfed in tear gas in Hong Kong. A severely malnourished baby girl sprawled on a floor in Venezuela. The first-ever image of a black hole.

These are some of the pictures in the seemingly boundless photographic universe that Times editors scrolled through to define the year visually.

At The Times, the Year in Pictures is the result of weeks of near round-the-clock culling and editing.

And 2019 marks the most ambitious year yet for the project, led by David Furst, the International photo editor, and Jeffrey Henson Scales, the Op-Ed photo editor.

For the first time since 2008, the project will have its own special section in the paper, on Dec. 15, featuring an introduction by Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor. At 36 pages, it has almost twice the print real estate that it did last year, when it ran as part of the Sunday Review.

Beyond expanding the project’s scale, Mr. Furst wanted to ‘bring the photographers out from behind their bylines’ this year. To that end, Dionne Searcey, a political reporter who recently returned to New York after being The Times’s West Africa bureau chief, interviewed about 50 of the photographers.

Their quotes and anecdotes — about covering an Ebola outbreak, being in the center of violent protests, working in arctic temperatures — help explain what goes into their thinking before they press the shutter button… To be as comprehensive as possible, Mr. Furst reached out to every desk in the newsroom and The New York Times Magazine, as well as to photo agencies and wire services, for their best material.

He and Mr. Henson Scales also kept a spreadsheet of hundreds of individual photographers, painstakingly reviewing their published and unpublished work from The Times and other assignments, and came up with a list of the most important news events to include.

Doug Mills, a Times photographer who covers the White House, has shot more than 12,000 pictures since January alone, making the task of narrowing those down to 100 initially, and later to just two, a herculean challenge…All told, the editors went through over 500,000 photos… They pared down the photos and organized them in folders by month. Hundreds of images for each month were narrowed down to dozens and, eventually, to about 10.

The final phase of cutting was grueling. Mr. Furst and Mr. Henson Scales scrutinized photos side by side as they went through each month and then looked at the year as a whole.

Getting just the right mix of images was the most challenging part. The editors considered a number of factors, such as the impact of a photo or its ability to delight, and the variety of images in each month.

A beautiful, poignant picture could edge out a more newsworthy one, and vice versa… The designers avoided jarring juxtapositions, finding ways to balance moments of tragedy and levity.

Portraits, landscapes and aerial shots sit comfortably alongside hard news photos.

One photographer who came up repeatedly in discussions of the digital and print presentations was Lam Yik Fei, a photojournalist who has covered the protests in Hong Kong for The Times.

While most of the featured photographers are seasoned professionals, there are some fresher faces, too.

The month of June includes an image from the Pride Parade in New York by Brittainy Newman, a photography fellow at The Times who shot the event for her first big project.

When she found out she would be among this year’s photographers, ‘I almost cried,’ she said. ‘It’s really a dream come true.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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.

  1. Umbrella-wielding protesters were engulfed in tear gas.
  2. The Times editors scrolled through to define the year visually.
  3. There was round-the-clock culling and editing.
  4. Mr. Furst wanted to bring the photographers out from behind their bylines this year
  5. The writers had many quotes and anecdotes
  6. The final phase of cutting was grueling.
  7. Mr. Furst and Mr. Henson Scales scrutinized photos.
  8. A beautiful, poignant picture could edge out a more newsworthy one, and vice versa.
  9. The designers avoided jarring juxtapositions.
  10. Portraits, landscapes and aerial shots sit comfortably alongside hard news photos.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with,

Additional Prepositions

Umbrella-wielding protesters engulfed ___tear gas ___Hong Kong. A severely malnourished baby girl sprawled ___a floor ___Venezuela. The first-ever image___a black hole.

___the first time ___2008, the project will have its own special section ___the paper, ___Dec. 15. One photographer who came

___repeatedly___discussions ___ the digital and print presentations was Lam Yik Fei,a photojournalist who has covered the protests___Hong Kong___The Times.

Getting just the right mix___ images was the most challenging part. The editors considered a number ___factors, such as the impact___ a photo or its ability ___delight, and the variety___ images each month.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctly  identify all of the speakers wins.

“They put you in the photographer’s spot.”

“When you feel like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re reminded that you missed a dozen different news events or these 20 photographers or these 15 projects in the newsroom.”

“We are always interested in finding images that really represent a particular photographer’s unique way of seeing something.”

“One of the big balances is news value versus craftsmanship and beauty,”said. “We’re always having to juggle those kinds of elements.”

“It’s like a Rubik’s cube.”

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Describe the process of choosing the final photos.
  2. According to the article what is the most challenging part of choosing the final photos?
  3. Who found the initial stage of the photo finding process daunting?
  4. Which photographer came up repeatedly in discussions? Why?

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. Would you want to work as a photographer? Why?
  2. What type of photos would interest you? Why?
  3. What new ideas did you learn from reading this article?
  4. To See All of The Photos and Titles: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/world/year-in-pictures.html

 

Photo  Group Activity

Directions: Place students in groups and have them view all of the photos.  Each group chooses 3 or 4 photos and  writes a paragraph explaining what they think the photos mean.

Questions for the Authors

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

ANSWER KEY

New Year’s Celebrations!

“Celebrating the start of the New Year has been practiced for at least four thousand years. The following article reviews the history,  significance, and common traditions of this festive, and meaningful holiday.” History.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.

Excerpt: The History of New Year’s Celebration–History.com

“Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day).

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.

New Year Celebration, Tendillas Square, Spain

Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight.

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries.

New Year Celebration, Vienna, Austria.

In Sweden, it is believed that whoever gets that one peeled almond hidden inside the rice pudding at Christmas will get married within a year. the scoop.

 

In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

The London Eye on the River Thames during New Year fireworks and celebrations. The Telegraph.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

Chinese New Year, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Photo-NBC News

New Year Celebration New York City’s Times Square. Photo- C. Morris.

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight…Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 400-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds.”

WISHING EVERYONE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking,  vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article about New Year’s celebrations 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 Task

Prediction: Analyze headings and photos.

Directions: Read the title of the post, and article.  Analyze the photo(s) to see if  you can predict what  information the article will discuss.  Then based on this information,  make a list of ideas,  words and phrases that might be in the article.

The K-W-L Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about New Year’s celebrations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

 

Vocabulary: Word Inference

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.

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia.
  2. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st.
  3. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the Gregorian calendar.
  4. Common traditions include attending parties, and eating special New Year’s foods.
  5. Other traditions include making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.
  6. The earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.
  7. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars.
  8. The calendars would pin the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.
  9. In Egypt the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
  10. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Vocabulary Organizer by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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. 

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least five millennia.
  2. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays
  3. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Rome.
  4. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.
  5. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth).
  6. In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 3 and continue into the early hours of January 1.
  7. Revelers often eat specific foods that are believed to bring good crops for the coming year.
  8. Grapes in Spain, round fruits in the Philippines, suckling pig in Austria, soba noodles in Japan are all considered good-luck food.
  9. Other customs that are common in the U.S. include making resolutions.
  10. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight.

III Grammar Focus

Identifying Parts of Speech: Nouns

Directions: Identify the nouns in the following paragraph, then use the words to write a short paragraph about \ New Year celebrations in the United States.

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions format

Directions: 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?

K-W-L Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion/Writing Exercise

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.

  1. The article states, “ Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day).  Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.”
  2. Provide a description of when and how the New Year is celebrated in your country. If you live in the U.S. then discuss how you celebrate the New Year.
  3. Discuss the types of foods you like to eat on New Year’s Day and the significance of the food.
  4. A big New Year  tradition in the U.S. is making resolutions. Discuss a few of your own resolutions and why you are making them.
  5. What new ideas have you learned from this article? Discuss them with group members and the class.

ANSWER KEY

NOTE: Happy New Year Banner Courtesy Vector Logo.

 

Category: History, Holidays, Social Issues | Tags:

Lesson Plan: The Little Match Girl By Hans Christian Andersen

“Hans Christian Andersen,(April 1805 – 4 August 1875), in Denmark usually called H.C. Andersen, was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen’s popularity is not limited to children; his stories express themes that transcend age and nationality. The Little Match Girl is among his most famous stories.” Wikipedia

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Han Christian Andersen

Excerpt: “Andersen’s fairy tales, of which no fewer than 3381 works have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well.

Early Life Andersen’s father, who had received an elementary school education, introduced his son to literature, reading to him the Arabian Nights.Andersen’s mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, was an illiterate washerwoman. Following her husband’s death in 1816, she remarried in 1818.

Andersen was sent to a local school for poor children where he received a basic education and had to support himself, working as an apprentice to a weaver and, later, to a tailor. At fourteen, he moved to Copenhagen to seek employment as an actor.

Having an excellent soprano voice, he was accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre, but his voice soon changed.

A colleague at the theatre told him that he considered Andersen a poet. Taking the suggestion seriously, Andersen began to focus on writing.

He later said his years in school were the darkest and most bitter of his life. At one school, he lived at his schoolmaster’s home, where he was abused, being told that it was “to improve his character”. He later said the faculty had discouraged him from writing, driving him into a depression…”

The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. The story, about a poor, dying child’s dreams and hope, was first published in 1845.

Source: Wikipedia 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: intermediate-advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing and speaking. Vocabulary  activities are included.

Time:  approximately 2  hours.

Objectives: Students will achieve a better understanding of the story The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen, through  learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, protagonist, themes)  used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story using these literary devices.

Reading Strategies: Students will make predictions based on the title; draw conclusions and make generalizations about what they have read by utilizing background knowledge, looking for the main ideas, making notes, highlighting or underlining specific information, and by answering discussion questions. They will learn new vocabulary through inference, highlighting unknown words, and using the dictionary.

Materials:

A copy of the story The Little Match Girl

Biography of Hans Christian Andersen.

Examples of  Components for Literary Analysis

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Directions: In groups have students read the brief biography of Hans C. Andersen. Have students focus on his childhood. Some highlights from the life of Hans Christian Andersen will help students make connections to the story.

Students should also know when the story was written: This story was written in the midst of the United States’ and Europe’s industrial revolution (1820-1870’s), during which child labor was commonplace, and there was no “safety net” for destitute children in poor health and homeless.

Source: History of Child Labor

Pre-reading Discussion Questions

Directions: Place students in groups and let them discuss the following questions.

  1. Have you ever seen underaged children selling items on the street in today’s society?
  2. Have you (or someone you know) ever had to sell items to get money to eat or pay rent? To help your family?
  3. Have you met people so poor they had to sell small items on the street?
  4. If you could help some people during the Christmas or New Years season would you?

 

Stimulating Background Knowledge

Prediction Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these reading charts by Pace High School as  pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tools to aid their comprehension of the events and characters in the story.

Prediction Outcomes Chart

 

II. While Reading

Vocabulary Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story.

  1. No one had given her a single farthing.
  2. They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn.
  3. One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin.
  4. The poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street.
  5. She did not venture to go home.
  6. Grandmother, told her that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.
  7. She drew another match against the wall nd in the lustre there stood the old grandmother.
  8. Old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.
  9. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day.
  10. No one even dreamed of the splendour in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

Reading Comprehension: Questions From the Story

  1. When does the story take place?
  2. Why were her slippers so large?
  3. Why didn’t she want to go home?
  4. Why did she light the first match?
  5. Why did she light the entire bundle of matches?
  6. What happened to the little girl at the end?
  7. What did the little girl see before she died?

Using Charts for Guidance

Directions: Use the following chart to help make predictions about the characters in the story

 

Character Prediction Chart

 

Questions forCharacter Analysis

From whose point of view is the story being told?

Who is the protagonist in this story?

Give a brief description of the following characters using the chart above:

The Father:What kind of man do you think he is?

The Mother: What do you think the mother was like?

The Grandmother: Describe the grandmother.

The Little Match girl: What kind of person is she?

 

Questions for Literary Analysis

  1.  What are some of  the themes in the story?
  2. Provide examples of how  Andersen uses imagery.
  3. Does  Andersen provide symbolism the story? How?

 

Questions For Reflection

  1. Do you think Andersen’s personal life affected his writing  this story of a poor matchstick girl? In what way?
  2. During the writing of this story, it was legal for underaged children to work. Can underage  children still work today? Why or why not?
  3. What  can kids who live in poverty today do to make money?
  4. How is what kids do today to earn money different (or the same) as the little matchstick girl?
  5. If you met the little Match girl how do you think you could help her?
  6. If you could speak to her father, what would you say to him?  What would you say to her grandmother? Her mother?
  7. How did the ending make you feel?  Is this how you expected the story to end? Why or why not?

Ideas for Writing Assignment

Write a story where the grandmother is still alive.

Write a story where the little girl’s mother is still alive.

Write an ending describing the father’s reaction when he discovers his daughter is dead.

Write a different ending for the story.

ANSWER KEY

The Tug of War Within the Deaf and the Hearing Communities

“Your whole life, they’ve been trying to take you away from me,” my father says to me, referring to the deaf community. But the deaf community could just as easily say the same about my father.” S. Katz, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Katherine Lam, NYT

Excerpt: Is There a Right Way to Be Deaf? By Sarah Katz, The New York Times

“More than 90 percent of deaf and hard-of-hearing children are born to hearing parents like mine, who have little to no experience interacting with deaf people. When it was discovered that I was profoundly deaf at six weeks old, my parents faced a common decision: Should they adapt themselves to their deaf child, learn sign language, and embrace deaf culture, or have their deaf child adapt to hearing culture, give her cochlear implants or hearing aids, and train her in the precarious art of lip-reading?

My parents chose the former, believing that sign language would provide me with equal access to the opportunities afforded my hearing twin brother. So, when I was 6 months old, my parents welcomed educators from a local deaf school into their home to give signing lessons. Over several months, my mother learned to sign with me…Using sign language, I communicated a lot — even more than my brother. But then something strange happened. I began speaking. Aloud. In English.

Dress pretty, you like?’ my mother recalls me asking her when I was around 3 years old. I did, it turned out, have residual hearing, as later tests confirmed.

But I spoke using classic American Sign Language word order, which involves a grammatical structure closer to French than English — And, although my mother knew that my syntax did not indicate limited cognitive ability, but rather an acute, developing awareness of the language, she began to wonder if sign language was the right choice after all. Was disregarding an aural-oral approach restricting my natural gift of gab?

After more research my parents found what they thought was a middle path. Rather than have me undergo cochlear implant surgery my parents hoped to supplement my sign language education with cued speech, a visual communication system invented in 1966 at Gallaudet University that functions as a supplement to speech-reading (only 30 percent of speech is visible on the lips)…Cued speech can be learned in just 48 hours. My mother was convinced that this bicultural-bilingual approach involving a combination of cued speech and sign language lessons could give me the best of both worlds: full visual access to English and the hearing community, and concurrent access to sign language and the deaf community.

But we apparently couldn’t have it both ways. When the educators from the local deaf school learned that my parents were considering cued speech, they became livid. ‘If you choose cued speech,’ my mother recalls one of them saying, ‘we’re not coming back here.’

In the deaf community, some feel that cued speech, like cochlear implants, threatens deaf culture because they believe it arises from a medical model of deafness, through which deafness is perceived as an undesirable trait that needs to be treated or cured.

A ‘social model,’ on the other hand, suggests that the environment must adapt to the deaf person, whose “natural language” is sign language. The educators even asked my parents to consider sending me to their residential program, where, surrounded by fluent signers, I would absorb sign language at a faster pace and have full exposure to deaf culture… My mother was stumped. On the one hand, she didn’t know if cued speech would work, but desperately wanted to succeed at finding a way to communicate with me quickly and effectively. On the other hand, she didn’t want me to be alienated from the deaf community. My father, however, was resolute: He would not send his child away.

Sign Language Chart-amazon

Together, they decided the promise of cued speech was worth the risk for at least a year at the nearby public school. If it didn’t work out, they would have the deaf school’s residential program as a fallback option.. Throughout my life, I’ve felt like the object of a constant tug of war between the deaf and hearing communities. Although I’m rewardingly self-employed, married and highly literate, I still struggle in hearing-centric environments… Well-meaning hearing people frequently insult me with ‘compliments’ about how well I’ve assimilated, like, ‘I can barely tell you’re deaf!’ (We call comments like these ‘audist’ — akin to ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ — because they assume deaf people like me must speak aloud and sound like a hearing person to be deemed fortunate or successful.)

On the other hand, when I spend time with deaf friends, I’m often chided by them for not being more fluent in sign language, or otherwise embracing a more culturally deaf way of life. According to them, I’ve succumbed to audism by using my voice to speak more often than my hands, and cued speech to absorb information… I still hold out hope that the deaf and hearing communities will come to a compromise.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Directions: Examine the title of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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.

  1. Some people are born deaf.
  2. The class studied aural anatomy yesterday.
  3. They reached an oral agreement.
  4. My mother was stumped by the response.
  5. Researchers look for ways to communicate effectively with deaf children.
  6. She didn’t want me to be alienated from the deaf community.
  7. I’m a 30-year-old who wears hearing aids.
  8. I’ve succumbed to audism by using my voice to speak
  9. She’s often chided by her  deaf friends for speaking.
  10. My father was resolute in his plans for me.

Color Vocabulary Map by Enchanted Learning

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with,

___the other hand, when I spend time ___deaf friends, I’m often chided ___them___not being more fluent ___sign language, or otherwise embracing a more culturally deaf way ___life.According ___them, I’ve succumbed ___audism___using my voice___speak more often than my hands, and cued speech___ absorb information.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins 

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

In the ___community, some feel that___speech, like ___implants, ___deaf ___because they believe it arises from a ___model of deafness, through which ___is perceived as an ___trait that needs to be ___or cured.

WORD LIST: treated, undesirable, deafness, medical, culture,  threatens, cochlear, cued, deaf,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Are you or someone you know hearing impaired? If yes, can you describe your experiences with non-hearing people? What about your experiences with people who can hear?
  2. Why is the following comment.I can barely tell you’re deaf!” considered to be an insult to deaf people?
  3. Why did the author’s parents choose to have  her learn sign language?
  4. Why is the classic American Sign Language word order structure closer to French than English?
  5. According to the article what is the difference between cued speech and a social model?
  6. The author states, ‘When the educators from the local deaf school learned that my parents were considering cued speech, they became livid. ‘If you choose cued speech,’ my mother recalls one of them saying, ‘we’re not coming back here.’ Why were the educators angry?
  7. What problems does the author face with her friends in the deaf community?
  8. Who is Amy Crumrine, and what solution does she offer to the deaf and hearing communities?
  9. After reading this article name at least one new thing that you’ve learned about the deaf community. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.
  10. Create a list that of suggestions for ways the non-hearing and hearing people living together in a deaf community might work things out.
  11. As a group search the web and find famous people who are deaf. Write brief summaries of how they have handled being deaf. Share your findings with the class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY