“Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.” V. Heffernan, Feb. 27, 2015, New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83 By Virginia Heffernan, Feb. 27, 2015 NYT
“His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Mr. Nimoy announced last year that he had the disease, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.
His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).
Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original Star Trek television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge…
Star Trek, which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, made Mr. Nimoy a star. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the franchise, called him “the conscience of Star Trek — an often earnest, sometimes campy show that employed the distant future (as well as some special effects that appear primitive by today’s standards) to take on social issues of the 1960s.
He also directed movies, including two from the “Star Trek” franchise, and television shows. And he made records, singing pop songs as well as original songs about “Star Trek,” and gave spoken-word performances — to the delight of his fans and the bewilderment of critics.
But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart, engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves [part Vulcan and part human].
To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended…But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”
RIP LEONARD NIMOY-1931-2015
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) 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
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic. Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart Kootation.com for assistance.
II. While Reading Tasks
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.
- His wife confirmed his death.
- Nimoy brought to life one of the most indelible characters of the century.
- Nimoy acknowledged ambivalence about the character.
- Star Trek, which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966.
- Some special effects appear primitive by today’s standards.
- His stardom would endure.
- The fans’ devotion only deepened when Star Trek was spun off into an animated show.
- His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond Star Trek.
- But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock.
- His speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor.
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.
- Mr. Nimoy was known for his role as Spock in the “Star Trek” series.
- Mr. Nimoy was working in a store when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series.
- “Star Trek” had its premiere on ABC on Sept. 8, 1966.
- The fans of the show were called Spockies.
- Mr. Nimoy was Born in Boston MA.
- Mr. Nimoy also directed several of the “Star Trek” movies.
- In 2001 he voiced the king of Atlantis in the Disney animated movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”.
- Mr. Nimoy dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
- His religious upbringing never influenced the characterization of Spock.
- The phrase “Live long and prosper” was Spock’s signature salute and blessing.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Nimoy became an folk hero.
- Spock was the lone alien on the starship.
- Mr. Nimoy was a star.
- His stardom would endure.
- The series was canceled after three seasons.
- The fan’s devotion only deepened.
- Mr. Nimoy also appeared on the follow-up movie.
- He also directed movies.
- Mr. Spock was the most complex member of the Enterprise crew.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Directions: Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with discussing or writing about the main idea and points from the article.
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 following three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond “Star Trek” and crossed genres. He had a starring role in the dramatic television series “Mission: Impossible” and frequently performed onstage…But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart, engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves.”
“Though his speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor, the critical consensus was that his music was mortifying. Mr. Nimoy, however, was undaunted, and his fans seemed to enjoy the camp of his covers of songs like If I Had a Hammer.”His first album was called “Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space.”
“His stardom would endure. Though the series was canceled after three seasons because of low ratings, a cultlike following — the conference-holding, costume-wearing Trekkies, or Trekkers coalesced soon after “Star Trek” went into syndication. The fans’ devotion only deepened when “Star Trek” was spun off into an animated show, various new series and an uneven parade of movies starring much of the original television cast, including — Mr. Nimoy.”
2. Are you or the member of your group “Trekkies” ? Explain what you liked or disliked about the “Star Trek” series.
3. If you could meet Mr. Nimoy today, what questions would you ask him?
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading and one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.