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Introducing Oscar Wildes The Canterville Ghost to secondary teenage students.

Prof Rosangela N de Lima1

Level: Beginner / Lower intermediate Age: Adolescents / Young adults Activity type: Comprehension activity Possible problems: Lack of vocabulary Materials: Dictionary; flashcards with pictures from the Reader; envelopes; a small bag; a Task sheet with Crosswords, or True or False. Overall description of the activity: AIMS: Literary: - Introduce Oscar Wildes The Canterville Ghost to secondary teenager students by using the Class Reader (a simplified version of the literary text), together with parts of the original literary text. Linguistic: - Grammar: Practice the simple past tense in the narrative form. Speaking: Develop fluency meaning and spontaneity by means of role-playing.

Writing: Stimulate learners creative writing (reinforcement of the usage of the simple past tense.); and, have students work with vocabulary from the text. Cultural: - Raise learners awareness of the Americans, Britishs and Brazilians people notion/idea of how to deal with the capitalism issue in their societies. What money means to these people. -

I - INTRODUCTION

Latin was the best entrance ticket to the universal culture of the European educated elite, which caused an immediate and uncontested link between language study and culture. For all the modern languages, the way to universality was through their literature. We all know that the reason on which the teaching of modern
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Mestre em Letras: Ensino de ingls como lngua estrangeira UFAL. Professora Assistente da Universidade Estadual de Alagoas UNEAL, Campus I Arapiraca.

languages is based was access to the universal canon of world literatures. At first with religious and then with aesthetic view of the world. (Kramsch,1995)

Various approaches and methods of teaching languages were developed in a way that made language separated from culture and literature, which was first taught only to be introduced to enhance a cultural aspect of the language. And according to Kramsch (1995), with the development of literary criticism beyond philological inquiry, and the growth of linguistics as a field in its own right, the split between the teaching of language and the teaching of literate culture widened.

Many secondary teachers of English as a foreign language in Brazil, seem to continue teaching language as a fixed system of formal structures and universal speech functions, and not considering the cultural and literate aspects of the foreign language. Those teachers do not realize the importance of showing their students that language, culture and literature are intertwined, and often hesitate in using literary texts in their language classrooms. Brando (1999:13) states that,
What further complicates the divorce between the teaching of foreign languages and literature is, among other factors, the existing traditional attitude towards the teaching of literature which is almost always seen as monotonous, tiring and boring. Those who share this conservative view insist on affirming that students dislike reading and therefore there is no point in teaching it.

Probably because Teaching language is consis tently viewed as a less sophisticated, hence less difficult, task than teaching literature. (Kramsch, 1993:07). And in addition to these factors, there is also the conservative educational system in Brazil, which seems to favour approaches whose centre is the teacher, () that is someone not to be questioned. (Brando, 1999:14). And such approaches seem to collaborate only with the creation of an aversion to literature among learners of English as a foreign language. Kramsch (1993) an American Professor of Literature and German as a second language in the United States, says that students of language should be introduced to all kinds of literary texts, and those texts should be as real as possible, so that students would be in contact with the thoughts and the voices
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of the authors of the literary texts. She also argues that by giving the students those opportunities, teachers of English as a foreign language would allow students to build their own voices and relate them to the ones in the texts, having the privilege to understand and share the feelings of other cultures.

This work proposes the presentation of the class reader The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde, by Easy Readers (1981); and, also the presentation of part of the literary text, The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde, by Complete works of Oscar Wilde, by HarperPerennial (1989), to secondary teenage students in a private school.

It will be focusing on a language-based approach to using literature to enrich the foreign language class and to motivate the students to understand how important literature can be in their lives, in a way that it highlights cultural aspects which may be similar to theirs or even totally different. The British literary critic and philosopher, Eagleton (1983:02) says that (). Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech. Therefore, this will raise the students awareness of the feeling that literature is also culture that can be shared and admired, as well as understood as a way of respecting different peoples cultural ways of living. And according to Jordo (1999:55), the literature classroom can be a place where there is dialogue, and discursive resistance, and it is a fertile ground for challenging conventions, for reflecting upon representation, for questioning from within. () and the starting point of change () II DESCRIPTION OF THE ACTIVITY 2.1. Introducing Oscar Wildes The Canterville Ghost to secondary teenage students.

2.2. The following activity was presented to a class of 37 adolescents, aged from 13-15, in the first grade in a private school in Arapiraca, where they
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have as few as two fifty-minute class per week. Secondary teenage students who study English as a foreign language at regular private schools, public schools, and language centers, on the whole, come from lower-to-middle-class to well-off families and have different backgrounds. Most of the time, these teenagers come to the English class unmotivated and not wanting to learn English. They would much rather be doing something more interesting or studying some other subject they consider more important than English, at the same time as the class. Due to this, these teens sometimes present behavior problems.

2.3. The introduction of the class reader The Canterville Ghost, by Easy Readers (1981), together with part of the literary text, The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde, by Complete works of Oscar Wilde, by HarperPerennial (1989), to secondary teenage students will raise their awareness of the differences between the literary text and the adaptation. In the linguistic aspect, the students will be able to practice the simple past tense in the narrative form; develop fluency meaning and spontaneity by means of role-playing; and, work with writing reinforcement of the usage of the simple past tense and vocabulary from the text. To what relates to cultural aspects, this work will raise learners awareness of the American, British, and Brazilian peoples notion/idea of how to deal with the capitalism issue in their societies. What money means to these people. They will be able to compare and contrast the meaning of money for different cultures.

2.4. The texts to be used in this activity are, The Canterville Ghost by Easy Readers, Denmark,1981; and, The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde, by Complete works of Oscar Wilde, by HarperPerennial, Great Britain,1989.

2.5. As English language teachers in general do not have more than two fifty-minute class per week, they should adapt the activities during the term, or semester, according to their convenience and the schedules established by the institutions for which they work.

2.6. For the preparation of this activity teachers should have flashcards with enlarged copies of some of the pictures from the Reader; envelopes; a small bag; a task sheet with sentences for the students to complete according to the story (Appendix A), in order to do the crosswords (Appendix B). Teachers should also include a copy of the fragment from the literary text, chapter one, in which the American minister talks about the possibility of having all the money can buy, including a ghost. (Appendix C); as well as the fragment from the literary text, chapter five, in which Virginia talks to the ghost about the money an American family would pay to have Ghost in the familys name (Appendix D). The possible problems teachers may face are related to lack of vocabulary, which can be solved by asking students to bring to the classroom their bilingual dictionaries, English-Portuguese/Portuguese-English.

2.7. Procedures for the activity. Pre-reading: Ask students if they believe in ghosts; Ask them to tell ghosts stories they know or the ones they have heard about (told by family members, friends etc).

First reading: Read the book with the students teaching them how to approach reading in a second language.

Post-reading: - Reading Race: o Prepare numbered envelopes containing the

corresponding paragraphs or dialogues related to the illustrations from the book. o Each sentence should be on a separate slip of paper. o Hide them around the school. (If possible) o Prepare flashcards with the illustrations from the book (enlarged and colored, if possible). o Place them around the school.

o Divide the class in groups. A member of each group draws a number from a small bag and the whole group searches for the corresponding envelope. o When they find it they go back to the classroom, put the dialogue or paragraph in the correct order (teacher checks) and go for the corresponding picture. o When they have both the dialogue and the picture they stick them together as to form an enlarged page of the book and a different member draws another number. o The race goes on till all pages are ready. The winner is the group which makes more pages. o Have students display them on the wall in sequence (in one of the halls?) and ask them to read the whole story. o Group A reads the ones made by Group B and viceversa. Give the students the task sheet with sentences for them to complete according to the story (Appendix A), in order to do the crosswords (Appendix B). Ask the teens to separate the regular and irregular verbs from the paragraphs or dialogues related to the illustrations from the book, which they used in the Reading Race. Teacher may motivate some of the students to dramatize parts of the story in front of the class. Hand out the copies of the fragments from the literary text in which the American minister talks about the possibility of having all the money can buy, including a ghost. (Appendix C); and, chapter five, in which Virginia talks to the ghost about the money an American family would pay to have Ghost in the familys name (Appendix D). Ask learners to read silently and check any vocabulary problems. To close the activity, ask students what were the differences they found between the Reader and the fragments from the literary text. Ask them if they could find in the Reader that

specific part from the literary text. And also, what is/are the difference/s between the two versions of the story. Teachers may also raise a discussion on some aspects of the behavior and lives of Brazilian teens compared to the American and British teens (Appendix E).

III CONCLUSION

This activity was used in a first grade secondary class, with teens aged from 13-15, in a private school in Arapiraca, in the month of October, in 2005, due to the Halloweens Day, which is nowadays celebrated in many regular schools in Brazil. The students were really excited with the idea of telling ghost stories they knew, or telling the ones their parents or family members had told them. When I told them they would have to buy Oscar Wildes The Canterville Ghost, Reader, they said they didnt know it and they agreed to buy it immediately after I had told them part of the story. This subject made them really interested in reading the book.

After doing the reading of the book, some groups performed in front of the class, part of the dialogues from the Reader, in their mother tongue: Portuguese, after rehearsing for some time, and they wore appropriate clothes which they found were similar to the ones in that age.

One of the groups made a video tape in which they recorded their performance as a group of friends in a big and dark house where each of them kept talking about ghosts stories, giving scaring intonations to their narratives. And suddenly all the lights on the video went out and we just heard their loud screams, as if they were trying to create a turning point for their stories by making that. All the performance was made in their mother tongue. However, we could feel their involvement in all the stories they told.

When they were doing the crosswords, there was a general feeling of excitement, among the students, because they seemed to be familiarized with the characters, the plot and the story itself.

As Brando (1999:19) says, learning language through literature ()means introducing a process of enjoyment and pleasure in the context of teaching. () especially because learning has to be seen as a productive process where learners play with it as well as take it seriously.

IV REFERENCES

BRANDO, I.F.O. A few reflections on the subject of literature, English language and the teaching / learning process. Ilha do Desterro, n 37, Florianpolis, jul./dez. 1999. (p.013-020)

EAGLETON, T. Literary theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983. JORDO, C.M. The dont do-it-yourself of education: teaching and learning literature as production of collective knowledge. Ilha do Desterro, n 37, Florianpolis, jul./dez. 1999. (p.049-059) KRAMSCH, C. Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

WILDE, O. The Canterville ghost. In:______Complete works of Oscar Wilde. Great Britain: HarperPerennial, 1989. WILDE, O. The Canterville ghost. Denmark: Easy Readers, 1981.