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The Beach

Level: Intermediate & above.

Timing: Approx two hours

Mats: Handout. Appropriate music & something to play it on.

Aim: To show the Ss that they can access authentic English literature and train them in techniques that enable them to do so. Also see Beach objectives.

Notes: Dictionaries are strictly forbidden in this lesson. Those of you who are new to this way of working are advised to read the article "Investigating the Use of Multi-Sensory Imaging to Promote and Deepen Emotive Engagement with Authentic Texts."  

I wrote this long before the movie came out precisely because it's so easy to visualise - guess the moviemakers had the same idea. Anyway, while it would undoubtedly work better if you're Ss haven't seen the movie (if they've seen it they're going to visualise the movie rather than create their own based on their interpretation of the text & the MSI script) there's not much we can really do about that. The scene, incidently, appears with a very different script, much poorer & less evocative IMO.

Breathing Exercise

“I want you to breath for 10 cycles of in....and....out...through your nose (tap nose)...let all thoughts just disappear...we’re thinking only of our breathing...we’re just letting it happen naturally for 10 in/out cycles...OK? (Wait for response). Here we go then.”  


T: Write instructions on WB.


1: Draw a TYPICAL beach scene from their own experience.

2: Draw their IDEAL beach scene.

T: Remind Ss that:

i: very simple drawings are fine;

ii: we will be using the drawings later to help us to understand a text;

iii: they do NOT have to show their drawings to anyone if they do not wish to.

While Ss draw prepare WB by dividing it in half and putting the word TYPICAL on one side and the word IDEAL on the other. 

Upon completion of activity ask for 2 volunteers

Ss: 1 writes up some features of ‘Typical’ and one of ‘Ideal’ beach scenes.

T: Ask if anyone has any other points to add. Ask if everyone agrees.

Notes: Hopefully you will have a clear distinction between the two sides with the ‘ideal’ side corresponding to the text. However, if you don´t you could ask other Ss for their version of an ideal beach scene and what you´re looking for should come out.

T: Ask which one they prefer. Ask what they think the text we’re going to read is going to be about.  

Stage One - Reading Activity

NotesDo NOT, repeat DO NOT, pre-teach any vocab! 

T: Present handouts.

Ss: Read text.

Multi-Sensory Imaging

Notes: For the actual reading of the script voice dynamics are ESSENTIAL! It should be practised along with whichever music has been chosen. The voice should sound soft and soothing as if part of the music.  

T: “OK, so we’ve read the text. Now we need to make a picture, right? I’m going to help us to do that by taking us to this this our minds we’re going to actually go inside this picture so when we come back here it’s even easier to draw it and to understand the text...OK?

So close your eyes, relax and we’ll begin.”

“Imagine we’re now walking along the can feel the sand beneath your can feel the hot sun beating down on you...on your a gentle breeze brings a taste of salt from the sea...the air feels and smells so’s such a peaceful and relaxing scene...Behind you you can hear the waves quietly splashing on the you listen also to the monkeys chattering and watch them swinging through the makes such a pretty you listen to the sweet sounds of the birds singing...As you walk along comfortably and easily, very relaxed...what can you see around you? What colours can you see...? What can you smell...? How do you feel?

Turn around now and look at the can see people fishing...who are they? What do they look like? How are they dressed?

Now as you take one last look around you I want you to come back to me, back to the classroom...nice and slowly...very everyone here?”

When all the Ss are back and (mentally) with you in the classroom, verbally instruct them to read the text again and then draw the picture.

Ss: Read text and draw picture.

T: Write on the board.   

1: Simple drawings are fine

2: Always start with what you know

Ask which of our two beach scenes the text compares to. Put a tick against the similarities and a cross against the differences (if there are any).

Ask if they think it does sound like paradise and if they think it sounds better than whatever place you’re at.

Inform Ss that they can go for a break and that after you’ll be working on their ideas as to how the story might continue and that you’ll then be finishing the lesson by working on how to use their pictures to understand the text and any words or grammar that they don’t know.

10 Min Break

Breathing Exercise

Stage Three – Development Task: Pair Work

T: “ now we’re ready to do have some fun with our pictures...We have a vision of ‘paradise' here but that vision’s going to change...things can go wrong...”

Write instructions on WB.

Ss: Think of and list five things that could go wrong in ‘paradise’. In each case they must decide what they will have to do to survive and continue to live on the beach. Write out their answers neatly as they may be asked to explain them to the class.

T: Upon completion of task go round the pairs getting one S to give something that could go wrong and their partner to give what they would do to rectify the situation.  

Stage Four – Discovery Activity

Invite the Ss to ask about words and/or grammar they don’t understand.  The T and the Ss use their pictures and the information gathered during the lesson to work out the meanings. While it is impossible to plan for this as we cannot know what the Ss will ask about, the T is reminded that in this type of exercise the grammar is dependent on its use in the context and that the point is for everyone to discover together and NOT for the T to go off into lengthy and potentially confusing explanations.


At the end of the lesson quickly recap what we have been doing so it is clear to the Ss that they have been able to access genuine, authentic English literature WITHOUT dictionaries and have been introduced to some useful techniques to help them to do so in the future when working alone.


So what did you think? How did it go? Let me & others know at the Efl Alt Message Board!


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