C a p p e l e n Il l u str a sj o n: Ing e r D a l e
D a m m s
t i d s s k r i f t
f o r
e n g e l s k l æ r e r e
Leder I denne utgaven av fagbladet kan du lese om de nye læreverkene våre for engelsk Vg1 studieforberedende utdanningsprogram og Vg1 og Vg2 yrkesfaglige utdanningsprogram. Vi som steller med dette, liker jo å tenke på slike artikler som forbrukeropplysning i stedet for reklame, men her er sikkert meningene delte. (Vi vil hevde at tekster som den Richard Burgess har skrevet om det nye læreverket Access to English, i det minste bør kunne regnes som «infotainment».) Uansett vil det forhåpentligvis være av interesse at vi har fulgt prosessen rundt den reviderte læreplanen i fellesfaget engelsk nøye, og at vi har læreverk klare til dem av dere som skal undervise etter denne læreplanen neste skoleår. Læreplanprosa kan for så vidt være interessant nok, men de færreste av oss ble vel engelsklærere fordi vi ønsket å fordype oss i tekster produsert i direktorater og departement. Erika Kvistad gir oss i stedet et morsomt og lærerikt innblikk i Charlotte Brontës liv – og ikke minst hennes «liv etter døden».
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Brontësaurus Rex: The Afterlives of a Literary Giant by Erika Kvistad
The Spoken Word in the Classroom by Therese Holm, Sandefjord vgs
Brontës Jane Eyre er utvilsomt en ekte litterær klassiker, og det samme vil mange si om Zadie Smiths White Teeth, selv om det bare er 13 år siden den kom ut. I «Read It!» spør Siri Hunstadbråten seg om Smiths siste roman, NW, holder samme standard. Temaet «klassiker» berøres også i den siste artikkelen i denne utgaven. Therese Holm fortsetter å gi oss nyttige tips om analyse og bruk av retoriske virkemidler, denne gangen med eksempler fra mange kjente taler. Fins det større muntlige klassikere i det engelske språket enn Churchills «We shall ﬁght on the beaches»-tale eller Martin Luther Kings «I have a dream»? Jeg blir i alle fall litt rørt av å se og høre disse igjen – mer rørt enn jeg blir av å lese de nyeste læreplanjusteringene fra Udir. Tro det eller ei!
Access to English by Richard Burgess
Back on Track! by Rasma Haidri Sjøvoll, Bodin vgs
Read It! by Siri Hunstadbråten, Drammen vgs
Denne og alle tidligere utgaver av bladet er tilgjengelig i bla-i-bok-format på nettet. Se f. eks. lærersidene på passage. cappelendamm.no eller access.cappelendamm.no. Der ﬁnner du også en oversikt over innholdet i alle utgavene.
[ mæg@'zi:n] '
CAPPELEN DAMM VIDEREGÅENDE
Cappelen Damm Akersgata 47/49
Telefon: 21 61 66 54 / 55
Produksjon: AIT Oslo AS
Access to English Son of Passage. Passage Rides Again. Passage: The Next Generation. Passage Part 5: Cappelen Damm Strikes Back… Yes, there’s no end to the creative silliness that can seize you when you have to decide on a name for a new book for the Vg1 English course! se! Book titles are tricky, whether you are writing a novel or a textbook. Looking back at earlier Cappelen titles of English course books, there’s been a strange and rather intimidating predilection for using imperatives. Consider. Imagine. Discover. Do this. Do that. Of course, the trouble with imperatives is that you rapidly run out of suitable ones and are left only with extremely unsuitable ones: Forget it. Give us a break. Get stuffed …
Bowles Sørhus and I have spent our meetings reading tea leaves or laying tarot cards. For one thing, the drafts that the D Department have sent out so far all point in the direction of a curriculum dire adjustment rather than adju a co complete revision. And the tendency in these adj adjustments also seems pretty clear – there is pre wish to strengthen aw and structure the oral an requirements of the re ccourse, and the focus oon older literature sseems to have ggone. Fortunately, in this digital age it is possible to accommodate whatever surprises might turn up by surpris putting supplementary material on the website.
The fact that we decided on Access to English might be seen as a victory for common sense over silliness, or for banality over creativity, depending on your point of view. But the new title does have a couple of advantages. For one thing, it ties the book in with Cappelen Damm’s other English books for General Studies English – Access to International English, Access to English: Social Studies and Access to English: Literature – books which it has a lot in common with and which it will share a website with. For another, it signals that the book is, to some extent, a new departure. (And I don’t mean a new Departures.)
Another factor determining textbook revisions is that the world has this worrying habit of changing all the time. Countries suddenly get new names or split into two, cutting edge rock artists suddenly become terribly “old hat”, and air hostesses’ daughters suddenly become duchesses and heirs to the throne. Not that these particular changes have played a major role inn tthe he nnew ew Ac Access Acce cess ss ttoo English, but it’s surprising how quickly things like statistics, names and topical allusions start smelling decidedly cheesy.
There are a number of factors governing textbook revisions. One is, of course, changes to the curriculum. In this case, the ﬁnal version of these changes won’t be available until the book is in print. However, that doesn’t mean that Theresa
So is Access to English a revision or a new book? Good question. The fact is that it’s somewhere in between. Passage
by Richard Burgess
has been through three revisions, keeping up with curriculum reforms, although it could equally well be said that the last of these was essentially a new book since it had little more in common with the ﬁrst edition than the title. Our aim with Access to English has been to take a new, fresh look at what Vg1 English requires of its students, both in terms of the curriculum and the changing world, whilst at the same time preserving what we see as being the positive legacy of Passage. One important element of that legacy is our use of specially written, in-depth factual texts on key background themes. Not all of our competitors choose to do this, preferring to use short introductions augmented with “authentic” texts. Our belief is that our longer texts help students to focus on the larger picture in a way that borrowed texts seldom manage. After all, in this digital age, ﬁnding relevant texts is not a problem. The challenge is to give students the context in which to understand them. So we make no apologies for having fairly long texts on such themes as the spread of the English language, Native Americans and Australian Aborigines.
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Another important ingredient in the Passage formula that we have brought with us into Access to English is
to tell the RTURE odds and lived ved incredible stay alive? le who have survi eat? How did they Stories of peop What did they Selkirk s fascinated us. sailor Alexander tale have alway oe (based on the Crus s) to the nson 1700 Robi in the From the tale of a desert island on spent 70 alone and years s in 1972 who spent four ed in the Ande crash human of who s y team these storie Uruguayan rugb nothing to eat, conditions with stop reading once ly impossible to days in desperate rcefulness are simp fortitude and resou Canathe by Pi of the novel Life you’ve started. is a sixexcerpt taken from er survivor. Pi In the following meet yet anoth with his Martel, you will e in India along dian author, Yann leaves his hom cargo who ese boy Japan n a rd teen-year-old India y-owned zoo aboa unter er and the famil d normally enco parents and broth animals you woul Parker (so ship are all the s and ... Richard ship. Aboard the The as, monkeys, zebra tiger. al hyen Beng ants, a 450-pound in a zoo – eleph s and al error) who is strike dy cleric a trage of se but named becau start a new life, h except Pi tle in Canada and and crew peris plan is to reset the only . All the passengers rd storm aboa a elf in the ship sinks enly Pi finds hims animals. Sudd and most of the tiger. with a 450-pound lifeboat together
POINTS OF DEPA
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
mot alle incredible odds odds fortitude styrke vende/ survivor overle overlevande clerical administrativ perish omkomme patter plaske hatch klekke ut fierce vill accomplished dyktig eri treachery forræd syringe sprøyte på conceive tenke cuff dask
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rain of the invisible s, as the pattering about, cold, dark hour d and tossed me During those long, hissed and coile to get ning, and the sea ed several plans got to be deafe rd Parker. I hatch thought: Richa one to . on I held t be mine the lifeboat migh good would that Lifeboat. What rid of him so that al off Push Him off the living, fierce anim Plan Number One: 450 pounds of s they manage to shove the Sundarban do? Even if I did ed swimmers. In s. If he found are accomplish water py tigers ats, chop , the lifebo in open d simply tread n to swim five miles woul r know Parke been have , Richard dly overboard treachery. himself unexpecte make me pay the price for my ges. But I had and Six Morphine syrin water, climb back to Kill Him with the they be enough Plan Number Two: on him. Would his t they would have morphine into effec the get what to idea osed no exactly was I supp , for an instant, once how him And ising him? kill surpr – but to surprise remotely conceive red could I captu m? was syste she ssible. All I er had been when injections? Impo the way his moth six consecutive return gh to give him to get a cuff in him long enou needle would be ing him with a would do by prick
film “Life of A scene from the Ang Lee, 2012) Pi” (directed by
onry. Ludimy head off. All Available Weap that would take In India : Attack Him with arian life form. Plan Number Three puny, feeble veget rifles with powerful Tarzan. I was a crous. I wasn’t ants and shooting eleph t flare in big rocke a great Fire off it took riding atop osed to do here? een my supp I betw was t knife and a to kill tigers. Wha et in each hand manI hatch If a les? with need g him his face? Go at and curving sewin d tear me apart off with straight In return he woul teeth? Finish him dangerous it would be a feat. one thing more aged to nick him, . For if there’s organ by limb by limb, organ it’s an injured animal. d at the bow animal, a rope. If I staye than a healthy his Choke Him. I had e to go around Plan Number Four: stern and a noos so, in the to go around the d to get at me. And and got the rope r, suicidal rope while he pulle the cleve A on elf. pull e hims neck, I could he would chok me, for ing very act of reach Electrocute Him. Set Him on Fire, plan. Five: Poison Him, Plan Number was let the ? All I had to do How? With what a War of Attrition. Wage Six: ber Plan Num
g/latterleg ludicrous latterli hatchet øks et/krumma curving krumm sewing needle synål nick kutte feat bragd bow baug stern akterende noose løkke/lykkje ing attrition nedslit
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the use of stimulating literature of real quality. Although, as mentioned, the signs are that the curriculum requirement for “older literature” has been dropped, that doesn’t mean that texts with a certain literary pedigree don’t have a role to play. Robert Burns, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, Somerset Maugham and, not least (my favourite), Anonymous are among the ﬁgures from the canon of English literature represented in the book. As for more modern literary texts, we have once again had a bit of typical Cappelen luck. Just as in the second edition of Passage we included an extract from the then little-known novel The Kite-Runner only to see it become a bestseller and a major ﬁlm, this time we chose an extract from what might have been seen as something of a has-been, the 2002 Booker Prize-winner Life of Pi. And lo and behold, before we even get to the proofreading stage, they’re making a ﬁlm of the novel, which goes on to win an Oscar for best director! I say luck, but Theresa is a ﬁlm buff with a nose for such things …
A text that we’re very pleased with, and that also has a ﬁlm spin-off, is an extract from Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games. In fact, it’s more than just an extract, because we’ve included tasks and topics that deal with the novel as a whole. The Hunger Games is that rare beast, a novel written for our students’ age group that will seize their imagination, get their pulses racing and has real literary quality to boot. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, both the novel and the ﬁlm will shock, move and provoke discussion – the perfect choice if you are going to read a novel in the Vg1 course.
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UR ORAL SK
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Nerves Do you feel nervous at the prospect of spea ing in front of kan audience? Well, join the Most people club. do. Even peo ple who do it living feel at for a least a slight quickening of pulse when all the those eyes are turned on them (Ask your teac her!) The best . way to combat nervousness is to be prep ared. That mea having a clea ns r idea of wha t you are goin present and g to how you are going to do it. other way to Ancombat nerv ousness is to sure your pres make entation is stro ng visually; the more the aud ience (see “visual aids is looking at other things ” below), the less they will looking at you be .
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ILLS: THE AR T OF
An oral pres entation can be about pret anything: a plac ty well e, an event, a person, a boo film… you nam k, a e it. You can use it to info people, to inst rm ruct them or persuade them Since it is both . visual and aura to it) it can be l (i.e. you liste n a very effective way of deliverin ideas and info rmation. It also g offers possibili ties for audienc e interaction that a written presentation does not have . So good pres entations are not only info ative, but also rmengaging and entertaining. rather – they Or are informative because they engaging and are entertaining.
Talk – don’t
Imagine if you r teacher cam e into the clas room at the sbeginning of the lesson, took piece of pap out a er and began reading alou monotonous d in a voice: “Good morning, clas Today we are s. going to lear n about Eng global language lish as a . Please open your books at page 134 …” I think you will agree it wou ld be 106
Chapter 2 G
rather odd. If she continued to do so, it wou also become terribly bori ld ng. For an audienc e, the differenc being spoken e between to and read to is enormous. someone is read When ing, their face and attentio directed tow n is ards the text . The audienc this immedia e notices tely and the result is that interest and they lose find somethi ng better to whatever else do. So you do in an oral presenta don’t read alou tion – d! In a proper oral presentation speaks directly , the presente r to the audienc e, perhaps usin notes to jog his/her mem g ory. These notes should be no more than keyw ords. If you are using PowerPo int or some other software, you don’t even need presentation notes. The slide themselves will s jog your mem ory.
elves as have always seen thems of the in the United States Native Americans Elk, a Medicine Man than its master. Black that is holy part of nature, rather is the story of all life this way, “[Nature] and the wings of ggeds Oglala Sioux, put it four-le the sharing it with n of one mother and … of us two-leggeds childre are these things; for Silko, by Leslie Marmon the air and all the green In the following story stands in their father is one spirit.” of life and death – view of nature – and the Native American the southwestern USA. of the white man in sharp contrast to that
TURE POINTS OF DEPAR
Of course, welcoming new texts means that old Rain Clouds The Man to Send friends have to be shown the door. No doubt some teachers will blub uncontrollably (while others will perhaps heave a sigh of relief) to learn that “Tony’s Story”, that favourite from the halcyon days of Imagine, has ﬁnally bitten the Songs have always had an important role New Mexican dust and gone home to its to play in the various editions of Passage, ancestors. However, there’s a consolation and we have carried on that tradition in for the blubbers. In its place comes a Access to English. Our preference has lovely story by the same author, Leslie always been to choose classic songs Marmon Silko. And Old Teoﬁlo ﬁgures in from whatever period, rather than going this story too, although once more he’s for songs by the latest big names. For dead before it starts. one thing, young people tend to be a bit “tribal” about modern music – any A third aspect of the Passage legacy, now artist adored by some will be loathed by a feature also of the other Access books, at least as many. And anyway, there’s is the inclusion of a step-by-step course nothing more out of date than what was for developing language skills. In Access fashionable yesterday, as somebody to English we have, in addition to a ﬁve(probably Oscar Wilde) once said. So part writing course, included a four-part we’ve kept classics like “Greensleeves” course in oral skills, focusing on small and Dylan’s “Masters of War”, and added talk, telephone English, presentation and “new” ones like the Pogues’ “Fairytale of debate. Although the latest signals from New York” and Marianne Faithfull’s 1964 Utdanningsdirektoratet now contradict hit “As Tears Go By”. The latter is used to the initial plan to have a separate grade augment an extract from Rolling Stones for Vg1 oral English, it seems likely that guitarist Keith Richards’ recent and highly oral skills will have more speciﬁc focus. entertaining autobiography. (In the curriculum drafts oral and written communication are treated separately, They say that there are some Aborigine rather than being lumped together as tribes that have no linear understanding communication.) And anyway, we felt that of time. It’s a bit like that with us writers it was time to give the oral curriculum of Cappelen Damm textbooks. “Good requirements the same sort of treatment heavens,” we say when we meet, “I haven’t as the written ones. seen you in at least three revisions”. When we want to refer to events in a distant past we use set phrases like “when Passage was new” and “before the coming of Richard Peel”. Of course, for people like Theresa the passage of time seems to have no relevance whatsoever. In spite of being old enough to know better, she still insists on doing mad things like running up Kilimanjaro and singlehandedly invading Cuba. In fact she’s just sent me some photos of her standing triumphantly on a windswept peak in the Faeroes. And she’s not even out of breath. For the rest of us, though, each revision is a step closer to that land where revisions are no more. The Land of the Unchanging Curriculum. Where Old Teoﬁlo is waiting … by Leslie Marmon Silko
pants His Levi jacket and a big cottonwood tree. The big cottonThey found him under been easy to find. lue so that he had bare cottonwoods were faded light-b a small grove of winter from or day apart a for stood wood tree . He had been dead wide, sandy arroyo the arwhich grew in the scattered up and down had wandered and and left them more, and the sheep gathered the sheep wood brother-in-law, Ken, his cotton and the to Leon ed royo. return camp before they h the in the pen at the sheep drove the truck throug the tree while Ken uned up at the sun and tree. Leon waited under of the arroyo. He squint But high and deep sand to the edge this time of year. it sure was hot for came sliding Ken snow. zipped his jacket – in deep mountains were still he was bringand down, northwest the blue yards ling bank about fifty down the low, crumb out of ing the red blanket. took a piece of string ed the old man, Leon long white hair. Before they wrapp r in the old man’s a small grey feathe he drew a his pocket and tied wrinkled forehead blue paint. Across the brown he drew a strip of Ken gave him the ones cheekb high along the corn meal and streak of white and throw pinches of and watched Ken Then Leon paint. He paused small grey feather. that fluttered the , when pollen into the wind broad nose, and finally man’s old the under painted with yellow smiled. across the chin, he the back he had painted green laid the bundle in , Grandfather.” They back “Send us rain clouds tarp before they started covered it with a heavy of the pickup and after long road. Not to the pueblo. y onto the sandy pueblo g highwa the comin off car They turned they saw Father Paul’s and the post office his car and waved they passed the store ized their faces he slowed recogn he w. When the car windo toward them. priest rolled down young The stop. to for them
grove lund arroyo (Sp.) bekk pen innhegning squint myse wrap pakke inn pollen pollen flutter flagre bundle bylt ing tarp (tarpaulin) presenn pueblo (Sp.) landsby
Chapter 5 SOMEWHE
Using visual aids
The visual aids in a presenta likely to keep tion are all the things you show their attentio rather than just n. Someone looks bored tures are the who talk about. Picis boring! most obvious Obviously, it’s examples, eith shown separate er not possible ly or in a Pow in the eye at to look 30 peo erPoint slide objects, too, the same time ple . Real can be an inte . One your gaze mov option is to resting way of trating a pres let e around the illusentation, and room, focusing individuals on can be sent roun class. Perhaps on the way. Ano d the you yourself ther is to fix gaze on a mid can become hibit”, for exam your dle an posi “extion ple by dressing , looking at no particular but up in a relevant costume? one in the class in gene ral. Our body lang PowerPoint uage changes and similar soft nervous. Don when we are very useful in ware can be ’t worry abo presentation ut it. There’s shame in look s, but is also misuse. The no ing easy nerv golden rule of to ous. But you helps to mov may find it presentation ware is that the e around a little softmore you put , changing you posture, perh on a slide, the focus it has. Too r aps pointing less much text, too at whatever showing. If you you are too many effec many pictures are using the ts – all these , blackboard, important to make the aud ence’s attentio it’s remember not in more difficult to speak with back to the aud best PowerPo to hold. In the your ience! int presentation s, the slides are clear, quickly understood and focused main idea at on one a time Your English tences, just keyw . Don’t write long senords and phra It may seem a paradox, then explain ses that you orally. The only but an oral pres is not the time exce entation would be quo to worry too tations (for exam ption here much about English. As far ture) where ple, from liter your as grammar the wording aand are concerne itself is importa d, just give them pronunciation nt. your best shot should be focu ; you sed on what you than on exac have to say rath Body languag tly how you say er e it. However, worth thinking Many psycholo it is about pace. Mos gists say that speak more quic t of us tend to we commun more with our kly when we icate bodies – our are nervous, this can som facial expressio our tone of voic and etim es mak ns, e e, our gestures us more diffi derstand. So cult to unor body post than we do with take a deep brea ure – the words we th – and spea slightly slower say. That is wor bearing in min k at a pace than you th d when we are do usually. Remember too making a pres tation. Body that your aud enlanguage can know as muc ience may not help us reinfo we are saying h abou rce t your topic as what – or it can und fore it is wor you do. Thereermine it. Communicati th writing diffi ng with an aud cult words or on the board not so different names ience of 30 is – or, if you are from commun usin you can inclu person; if you icating with de them in your g PowerPoint, one r body language slides. is open and rect, if you look diat the people you are talking and if you try to appear as to Opening and if you are inte in communicati closing rested ng with them Like an essay, , you are mor an oral presenta e tion needs a ginning and bean end. A goo d place to star t is Chapter 2 G
BRONTËSAURUS REX: The Afterlives of a Literary Giant
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 by Erika Kvistad
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In her ﬁrst-ever published piece of work, ‘Haworth, November 1904’, Virginia Woolf goes on a literary pilgrimage to a small West Yorkshire village – the place where the Brontë sisters grew up, lived most of their lives, and wrote their six novels
in the tiny parsonage kitchen. Woolf arrives in a snowstorm, and decides that this is only appropriate considering her reason for coming there: ‘I understand that the sun very seldom shone on the Brontë family.’ In the end, Haworth turns out to be
a disappointment; not Gothically gloomy, which would ﬁt very nicely with the Brontë myth, but ‘what is worse for artistic purposes ... dingy and commonplace’. In the Brontë Museum, Woolf stares at a glass case ﬁlled with ‘little personal relics’ of
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the eldest sister, Charlotte Brontë – her shoes, her muslin dress, her gloves – and feels moved, but also a little disturbed. ‘The natural fate of such things is to die before the body that wore them,’ she writes, ‘and because these, triﬂing and transient though they are, have survived, Charlotte Brontë the woman comes to life, and one forgets the chieﬂy memorable fact that she was a great writer.’ Over 150 years after Charlotte Brontë’s death, and over a hundred years after Woolf’s visit, I peered through the same glass pane at the dull-coloured dress with its impossibly narrow waist; the pair of miniature, battered leather slippers (the great writer was, apparently, physically very small); the stockings, delicately unmentioned by Woolf, which looked like a snake’s shed skin. For a moment I felt connected to both these writers through the trivial nineteenth-century objects that had survived both of them and would, presumably, survive me. I burst into tears. Then I realised that I was in public, and I was crying over some socks.
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Even today, Charlotte Brontë is something other and more than the writer of four more-or-lessextraordinary novels, some middling poetry and a huge amount of overheated, soap-operatic juvenilia about a made-up African country (yes, really). She is a literary icon – a kind of shared cultural shorthand, as well as, alongside her sisters Anne and Emily, a brand that can sell anything from biscuits to vampire novels to bottled water. In present-day British culture, perhaps only Charles Dickens and Jane Austen have the same level of name recognition. Brontë’s and Austen’s names are often mentioned in the same contexts – great women in literature, great writers of romantic ﬁction, subjects of BBC miniseries, faces and quotations printed on tea-towels, coffee mugs and gift books. (In her Guardian article on Brontë’s posthumous reputation, ‘Reader, I shagged him’, Tanya Gold is particularly annoyed about the mouse mats on sale at the parsonage, which are printed with Jane Eyre’s cry that she is a free
The Haworth Parsonage, also known as the Brontë Parsonage Museum, in the village of Haworth in West Yorkshire in England (©NTBscanpix)
human being and not a bird to be ensnared: ‘In Jane Eyre, Charlotte wrote “independent human being”. She did not write “independent mouse mat”.’) But the two authors are just as often contrasted with each other, ﬁlling two different slots marked ‘female literary genius’ in our cultural imagination: Austen is the well-mannered, ironic, wry one; Brontë the morbid, solitary, passionate one. Austen is teacups and quadrilles; Brontë is windswept moors and violent embraces. Indeed, Brontë herself played into these stereotypes in her famous criticism of Austen: ‘The passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood ... [She] was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless) woman’. Does Charlotte Brontë’s status as a pop-cultural icon illustrate her actual achievements, or does it just obscure them? Woolf suggests the latter when she says that ‘we forget ... that she was a great writer’ among the relics and souvenirs at
Brontë’s homeplace, and Tanya Gold describes stalking balefully around Haworth, dreaming of burning this Brontë ‘death cult’ to the ground and leaving only a copy of Jane Eyre smoldering in the ashes. So should we try to explode the Brontë myth, with its merchandise, its tweeness, its reinterpretations and misinterpretations of her work – or can it, after all, be something to be celebrated? Mythical status came early to Charlotte Brontë. There is something fairy tale-like about her story: she was one of three sisters who lived secluded lives in a little parsonage on the Yorkshire moors. They looked after their alcoholic brother Branwell, and left home only to endure several miserable stints of governessing and teaching. (At one point Charlotte wrote in her diary that she felt like vomiting on an importunate student who had shaken her out of her imaginative trance.) They tried unsuccessfully to set up a school, which they saw as a more reasonable ambition than writing. And in between all this, they wrote
some of the nineteenth century’s greatest novels. There were, in fact, originally six Brontë siblings: the two eldest, Maria and Elizabeth, died in childhood. Maria was their father’s favourite; she was considered to be the prodigy of the family. The idea that the Brontë sisters who lived into adulthood weren’t even the most talented ones should be enough to make anyone feel a little dizzy.
These lives, which, summarised, seem undeniably short, blighted and sad, have provided fuel for any number of ﬁlm, stage and book adaptations (generally also in the dismal vein; Jude Morgan’s fascinating novelisation of the Brontës’ lives, for instance, is entitled The Taste of Sorrow). But the afterlife of their writing is more interesting still. So many years after their ﬁrst publication, the Brontë books are ﬁrmly in the public domain, meaning that anyone can freely adapt and rework the texts for their own purposes. But people started adapting Jane Eyre almost as soon as it was published, especially for the stage. One of Charlotte’s publishers sent her an account of a new stage version he’d seen, to which the author responded with distinct displeasure: ‘you ... have shown me a glimpse of what I might call – loathsome, but which I prefer calling strange. Such then is a sample of what amuses the Metropolitan populace!’ Jane Eyre was also parodied in more intentional ways, as in Bret Harte’s 1867 ‘condensed novel’, ‘Miss Mix by Ch-l-tte Br-nte’, in which the heroine frets endlessly about her plainness and falls in love with the gorillalike Mr Rawjester. He has three mad wives rather than just the one, and his idea of courtship involves ﬂinging a candlestick at the heroine’s head, which she dodges ‘submissively but ﬁrmly’.
The Brontë sisters’ ﬁrst venture into publication was a book of poetry by all three of them, published at their own expense. It sold two copies. But in 1847 they managed to get three novels published: Agnes Grey, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. ‘Brontë Sisters Power Dolls’, a fake advertisement for a nonexistent set of Brontë-themed action ﬁgures that went viral on YouTube a couple of years ago, illustrates this part of their career. It shows the three sisters disguising themselves as men in order to get their books accepted by the misogynist publishing industry, before dramatically tearing off their moustaches and unveiling themselves: ‘Well, the joke’s on you, you narrow-minded cur! We are women!’ This isn’t a hundred percent historically correct, nor, sadly, is the part later on where they combine to form a ‘BRONTËSAURUS’ and smash the literary establishment, but they did eventually drop their masculine-sounding pseudonyms and became known by their real names. Charlotte took her ﬁrst faltering steps into literary society, but was too shy to be much of a success; at one house party given in honour of the celebrated author, she spent the whole evening talking to the family governess. Then, from 1848 to 1849, Charlotte lost almost everyone in her life: Branwell died, then, a few weeks later, Emily; then Anne; all, apparently, of tuberculosis. Charlotte and her father lived on in the parsonage until ﬁnally, in her late thirties, she disobliged him by marrying his curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. Not even the most romantic Brontë fan has been able to interpret this as a great love match, though she did persist in it against her father’s objections. She died at 38, most likely from pregnancy complications.
With the advent of the cinema came a wealth of ﬁlm adaptations of Jane Eyre, but text adaptations continued to recast the novel in new ways. Jean Rhys’s 1996 novel Wide Sargasso Sea, which acts as a prequel to Jane Eyre, gives a startling take on the most fascinating lacuna in the older novel, the character of Bertha Rochester. It neatly skewers the racist and othering tendencies of Brontë’s text, and is perhaps one of the few reimaginings of any novel that irrevocably changes the way we read the original text. More recently, Jane Eyre has opened up to accommodate new literary trends. Sherri Browning Erwin’s literary mash-up Jane Slayre tweaks and expands Brontë’s text, turning it into even more of a paranormal romance than the original: Jane is a vampire
slayer, Lowood School is a breedingground for zombies, and Rochester’s inconvenient ﬁrst wife is a werewolf (which, really, makes about as much sense as Brontë’s depiction of Bertha’s mental illness). Eve Sinclair’s novel Jane Eyre Laid Bare uses the same mash-up technique to take the novel in a more Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired direction, turning the hints of eroticism in the original text into full-ﬂedged sex scenes. On the other side of the explicitness scale is Little Miss Brontë: Jane Eyre by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, which turns the classic tale of love and maiming into an illustrated counting primer for babies. In some ways, Little Miss Brontë is the most promising proposition of the three, with its defamiliarising, child’s-eye view of the book – though its marketing copy, offering ‘a fashionable way to introduce your toddler to the world of classic literature’, is a little wince-inducing. Perhaps the most striking thing about this array of adaptations is that for all their variety, they’re based on the same novel. Of the Brontë novels, only Emily’s Wuthering Heights has had a similar level of cultural impact – though, understandably, many versions skim over Heathcliff’s unfortunate dog-killing tendencies, focusing instead on his brooding mystique. (There is a Wuthering Heights for babies, which seems ambitious, to say the least.) But Charlotte Brontë’s ﬁrst published novel and biggest popular success still represents her in the cultural imagination today. Charlotte herself was, at best, ambivalent about the tendency to associate her with her most famous book: she was furious with William Thackeray when he introduced her to an acquaintance as ‘Jane Eyre’, and she wrote in a letter that she wanted Lucy Snowe, the heroine of her last novel, to be less easy to love than Jane had been.
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Reading one’s way through a pile of Brontë adaptations might lead one to think that Charlotte Brontë’s work is all fairy-tale Gothic, with feisty governesses, irascible masters, and wild-eyed pyromaniacs around every corner. But there’s considerably more to her work than that. Shirley, for
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instance, is a sprawling, uneasy mix of social commentary and romance, Brontë’s only attempt at a big Northof-England social problem novel in the Elizabeth Gaskell style, and in some ways her most explicitly feminist one. Here the wealthy, dashing master of the house is not a Byronic, square-jawed type but the young title character, Shirley, who, like Rochester, ends up marrying one of her employees. Less well known still is The Professor, the ﬁrst adult novel Brontë wrote. Even after Brontë had become a best-selling author, and in spite of great persistence on her part, no one would publish it – more or less the nineteenthcentury equivalent of J.K. Rowling having a children’s book manuscript stashed in a drawer and being unable to get it into print. The Professor is far from her best work, with its priggish, unlikeable male narrator and lapses into genuinely terrible poetry, but Brontë seems to have had a great deal of affection for it. After yet another publisher rejected the manuscript, she wrote that ‘[m]y feelings towards it can only be paralleled by those of a doting parent towards an idiot child.’ Her husband ﬁnally got it published some years after her death.
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Perhaps The Professor isn’t quite ripe for a big-screen adaptation, but the same can’t be said for the novel that many readers love best: her ﬁnal book, Villette. Like The Professor, Villette has elements of autobiography, drawing on the months Charlotte and Emily Brontë spent furthering their education at a boarding school in Belgium. Here, Charlotte developed a deep attachment to her married professor of literature, Constantin Héger, though it’s unclear whether this was her one grand passion, or something closer to platonic admiration for the ﬁrst man to take her writing seriously. Either way, she set her last novel amid the simmering tensions of a boarding school in an invented, French-speaking European country, and cast a short, dark and irritable literature professor as its unlikely romantic lead. Though it’s often seen as a melancholy, riddling novel, full of mental agony and repressed emotion and enlivened
only by the occasional opium-fuelled escapade, the structure of Villette’s romance plot makes it an early forerunner of modern-day chick-lit novels. Lucy Snowe pines after the traditionally handsome, blockheaded Wrong Man, who is oblivious to her feelings – ‘he, I believe, never remembered that I had eyes in my head, much less a brain behind them’ – while at the same time enjoying spiky, teasing, increasingly ﬂirtatious encounters with the Right Man. Villette even features that staple of rom-coms, the ‘meetcute’: when Lucy and the professor of literature, Paul Emmanuel, meet for the ﬁrst time, he interprets her character by examining the shape of her head, using the pseudoscientiﬁc principles of physiognomy. Much as we might long for them, enterprising Brontë adapters have yet to give us a zombie-infested Shirley, a Professor interspersed with sex scenes or a lavishly illustrated Villette for babies (teaching rudimentary French, maybe?). These novels just don’t seem to have the cultural infectiousness that makes Jane Eyre so inﬁnitely adaptable. They are Brontë, yes, but they are not part of our shared language in the same way that Jane Eyre is. There can be something off-putting about the Brontë industry, as there is, perhaps, about any kind of business that grows so profusely around a creative presence, interpreting it, transforming it, and using it for its own myriad ends. Sometimes, as with Wide Sargasso Sea, the afterlife of Brontë produces interpretations that reach the heart of her creative work and spin it into something wholly new; more often, it produces biscuits and mouse mats. But then, even this kind of cultural shorthand has its own pleasures. On my way to the viva for my Ph.D thesis on Charlotte Brontë’s novels, I spotted a Brontë Water supply truck. I took it as a good sign, and my parents snapped photographs of me grinning, slightly maniacally, in front of the slogan. Even
this apparently wholly unliterary product picks up some cachet from its association with the literary sisters. On the Brontë Water website we ﬁnd dreamy depictions of ‘the rugged moorlands which were the playground of the Brontë children’, and the water is imagined as ‘gently ﬁlter[ing] through the sandstone layers beneath the heathland expanses which were a constant spur to their youthful imaginations’. Uncharitable as it is, it’s hard not to remember that in the Brontës’ days the Haworth water supply was a serious health concern; Patrick Brontë repeatedly lobbied the Board of Health to have it inspected, and the inspector eventually found that contaminated water from the graveyard by the Brontë parsonage was leaking into the drinking water. But when people become icons, these killjoy facts sometimes stop mattering, or matter in different ways. Cultural touchstones can’t always be seen clearly, but they can be subverted, messed around with, played with. Charlotte Brontë’s afterlives may make it harder to remember the complexities and subtleties of the writer, but in return, she becomes something else: a bigger playground, a spur to our own imaginations.
Charlotte Brontë (©NTBscanpix)
The Spoken Word in the Classroom What about the following sentences; can you identify the speakers? by Therese Holm, Sandefjord vgs
– “Ich bin ein Berliner.” If I say “I have a dream”, what do you think of? Some are bound to start humming the ABBA song by the same name; others may envision Martin Luther King Jr. standing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, speaking out against racism.
– “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” – “Free at last!” – “Peace in our time.” – “We stand together to win the war against terrorism.”
Even taken out of context, these sentences are often recognized as quotations from famous speeches. They may seem improvised, but they have been written down in a manuscript and subsequently read to an audience. Behind the best speeches you will ﬁnd a careful choice of rhetorical devices and diction – in other words, a lot of work and rewriting!
President John F. Kennedy making his electrifying address during his visit to West Berlin, June 26, 1963 (©NTBscanpix)
This article takes a look at speeches as a text type and how we can work with them in the English classroom. By studying different speeches, I believe that students will gain better insight into the structure, vocabulary, language style and message of a good text, and will also be better equipped for tackling the speech which some of them will have to deliver at the end of the school year – the oral exam. Moreover, the knowledge they will develop of the spoken word
will also be useful for the written exam, where students are expected not only to analyse and understand an unknown text, but also to produce a structured, wellwritten text of their own. Understanding the composition of this non-ﬁction text type can thus help students improve their production of both oral and written texts. The speech as mass communication If we start off with a broad deﬁnition, a speech is a text type which is supposed to be presented through oral communication. Just as plays are better when watched on a stage, a speech is best when you can see it being made. Watching Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech is quite different from just reading it!
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Usually, a speech is presented by one person, as a monologue, or as a soliloquy in a play. Although it is said that some people are natural speakers, most speeches have been written down and rehearsed before being presented. The audience for some speeches will be more or less known to the speaker – at private weddings or funerals for example. But for the most part, the speaker will not know all the members of his or her audience. Therefore, we can say that speeches are often a type of mass communication which is an effective way for the speaker to get his or her message across to a wide audience. Categories of speeches Many kinds of oral communication can be placed under the category of
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speeches: speeches made in a court room, keynote speeches to start off a conference, wedding speeches, speeches delivered at a political rally, eulogies, stand-up comedians’ performances, speech as a presentation during an oral exam, the list goes on. And let us not forget the speeches we ﬁnd in ﬁction – from Shakespearian soliloquies to the grand speeches in Lord of the Rings and speeches delivered at a crucial point in a ﬁlm. All these types of speeches have one thing in common: they are trying to get a message across to an audience. The message which the speaker wants to get across often depends on the type of speech in question. A stand-up comedian performing her routine is making a speech which is intended to entertain the audience – but perhaps also to make them think. A country’s leader delivering a televised state-of-the-nation speech will often use it to assure and convince the nation of something. Speeches can also be used to provoke or challenge the audience, and subsequently the government or people in positions of power. Sometimes politicians use a speech to try to spread goodwill between nations and to create bonds between countries – and sometimes also to challenge another country’s politicians. Finally, some speeches, like eulogies, are simply meant to be in remembrance of a great person, and will therefore mainly contain praise and personal memories.
As mentioned above, speeches in ﬁlms and literature are frequently used to achieve various effects. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for instance, the protagonist’s soliloquies are a way of showing the audience the inner thoughts and fears of Hamlet himself, as in the “Am I a coward?” speech (“Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I”). In ﬁlms, speeches are often used to build tension and to provoke a turning point, as in A Few Good Men, where Jack Nicholson’s character screams at Tom Cruise’s character in a dramatic court scene: “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”, or in the court scene from To Kill a Mockingbird, where Finch, played by Gregory Peck, exclaims: “The defendant is not guilty. But somebody in the courtroom is”. And it is, of course, hard to talk about speeches in literature and ﬁlms without mentioning Lord of the Rings, in which many of the characters have monologues about bravery and challenges. Whether you are looking for ﬁctional or nonﬁctional speeches, there is a myriad of examples to choose from. So where do we start when introducing students to this text type? Getting started I once heard someone say that a speech should be like a mini-skirt: Long enough to cover the essential bits, but short enough to maintain interest. There is some truth in that, especially when working with speeches in the English
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Michael Sheen as Hamlet at the Young Vic theatre in London, 2011 (©NTBscanpix)
classroom. If students are to have a good understanding of this text type, they should ﬁrst of all watch some speeches being delivered. Watching a ﬁve-minute speech is a lot more manageable for many students than reading two full pages of text. For students unfamiliar with speeches, it may be a bit daunting to start off with MLK or Churchill’s famous words, so starting with something they already know could be a better approach – for example, stand-up comedy. At youtube.com you can ﬁnd extracts from the famous show Live At The Apollo, where such comedians as Dara O’Brien, Michael MacIntyre, Jack Dee, Russell Howard, Sarah Millican and Omid Djalili – to name but a few – make “speeches” (monologues), often based on their own experiences and intended to make the audience laugh. Since each performance is usually between ﬁve and ten minutes, a warm-up activity (either in the classroom or as homework) could be to choose two performances and ask the students to watch them and ﬁnd out why these comedians make people laugh. “Because it’s funny” is often the ﬁrst reply, but why is it funny? Give your students a list of reasons to consider before they discuss the same question in groups. Is it funny because it is recognizable? Does it have to do with the language used? Is the performance structured in a particular way? Are any words repeated for effect? How much impact does body language have? What about facial expressions or “funny voices”? Would this be just as funny if you just read the comedian’s manuscript? Why / why not? Having discussed the speech type known as stand-up comedy, we move on to more serious speeches. Of course we do not expect students to have us in ﬁts of laughter during an oral exam, but we do expect them to be able to present a topic in a well-structured and well-articulated manner in the scope of a few minutes. Perhaps we should therefore show them some examples of people who do just that. This brings us to the website ted. com. The TED speakers are all experts in their ﬁeld, and talk about issues that engage them, topics as diverse as technology, entertainment, business, science and global issues. If you search under “Talks”, you can ﬁnd speeches of less than 3 or 6 minutes on all topics. Before looking at some of these talks, however, ask the students to think about a few points which will be discussed afterwards. What is, for example, the structure of the talk? How does the speaker start and end his or her speech?
ﬁnd to the rest of the class. The website http://www.americanrhetoric.com/ MovieSpeeches/ contains a number of speeches from famous ﬁlms, and can be a good starting point. The page has the extracts from the ﬁlms both in visual and written form, so it is possible for the students to show the ﬁlm clip either before or after they have presented what they have found. A lot of ﬁlm clips can also be found on Youtube, and many ﬁlm transcripts are available online.
What seem to be the main points? Which catch phrase could you imagine being taken from this speech? Does the speaker’s body language inﬂuence what he or she says? What message does the speech convey and how are the images (if any) used to enforce this message? What presentation skills shown in this speech can you apply to your own oral presentation later on? As there are thousands of good speeches at the ted.com website, it is hard to pick any favourites. But to show a spirited speaker, I particularly recommend Adam Savage and his quest to ﬁnd the dodo bird. Some other talks that I have successfully used with students are: Candy Chang’s Before I die I want to..., Bahia Shehab’s A Thousand Times No, Matt Cutts’s Try something new for 30 days, Alisa Miller’s The News about the News, and Graham Hill’s Less Stuff and More Happiness, to mention but a very few. All these talks are less than six minutes long, and cover very different topics. Increasing vocabulary Having introduced some words for talking about speeches (introduction, ending, body, main parts, catch phrase, body language, message), it might be a good idea to add some more, to expand the students’ vocabulary. Some suggestions for relevant vocabulary related to speeches are found on page 12; the list is not extensive and can be adjusted to your students’ needs. All students may not need to learn all words, but perhaps a minimum could be suggested to them? In my opinion, students should at least be able to point out the following devices in speeches, as they are fairly common: alliteration, allusion, false dilemmas,
hypophora, parallelism, repetition, rhetorical question, tricolon and varied sentence length. Since students will be familiar with logos, ethos and pathos from their Norwegian lessons, I think it can also be expected of them to recognize these ways of arguing in speeches. There are numerous ways of working on increasing the students’ vocabulary, so I will only suggest a few I have used successfully in my classroom. I like to take advantage of the fact that all my students have computers and internet access, so I usually create a page on It’s Learning where I write all the new words I want them to learn. Then I split the class into groups and give each group some words to look up. They are to write deﬁnitions of the rhetorical devices in their own words, and provide one or more examples of the use of these devices, using the internet as their source. All students have access to the web page, so that when they are ﬁnished writing their deﬁnitions and examples, they have to read what the other groups have produced. If any word explanations are unclear, it is up to the group in charge of the word to explain it better. When the vocabulary begins to sink in, the students are given a list of sentences in which they are to identify the rhetorical devices used. An example of such a list can be found on page 13. Let’s analyse! Once the students are equipped with an adequate rhetorical vocabulary, it is time to let them analyse. An introductory activity could be to ask students in groups to choose a speech from a ﬁlm, to analyse which rhetorical devices the speaker uses, and to present what they
Another interesting task could be to look at some of the more famous speeches from recent years and compare how the speakers argue their case. This can be done as preparation for a class discussion, or perhaps as preparation for a written assignment. George W. Bush’s speech after the terror attacks on the USA on 9-11 in 2001 is one obvious suggestion. This speech is available from americanrhetoric.com, video and transcript. At this stage, it would be natural to both show the students the televised speech and also to give them a written transcript so that they can pick the speech apart using pen and paper. If there is time to look at a couple of slightly longer speeches, the speeches of Michelle Obama and Anne Romney at the National Conventions in 2012 are deﬁnitely worth looking at (see Magazine edition 02/2012), as well as the inaugural speeches of the American presidents in recent years. In terms of historical interest, some speeches are hard to overlook – here are some suggestions: Neville Chamberlain’s speech upon returning to Great Britain after having made a deal with Hitler is one that should not be missed. Another is Winston Churchill’s war-time speeches – either choosing one in full or looking at extracts from several. Sojourner Truth’s powerful “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech deserves to be mentioned, as does obviously the speech I quoted from at the beginning of this article, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Another interesting speech by MLK is the last one he ever made, entitled “I’ve seen the promised land”, delivered on 3 April 1968, the night before he was shot. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural address, where he uttered the now famous words “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, is certainly worth looking at, as is Nelson Mandela’s Presidential address in 1994, known for the catch phrase “Free at last!”. It can be of interest to examine the famous sentence “Ask not what your country can do for you
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but what you can do for your country” in context, used by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address in 1961. For a more global approach, one could, for example, look at F. W. de Klerk’s speech at the opening of Parliament in South Africa in 1990, where he stated that “The time for negotiation has arrived”. Or perhaps you have your own favourite that you would like to share with your class. When working with speech analysis, I prefer to follow these “rules”: a) Students are given a copy of the speech either digitally, as a Word
document, or on paper. That way they can make notes and underline or highlight text as they please. If they have the text digitally, they also have the advantage of being able to quickly search for phrases or words used in the text. b) Students also get a handout with key elements I want them to focus on in the speech. These include: How does the speaker begin and end the speech? How is the speech structured? What are the main points the speaker is trying to make? How are these points made – which rhetorical devices are
HOW THE SPEECH ARGUES: Logos refers to our sense of logic Ethos refers to the trustworthiness of the speech Pathos appeals to our emotions SOME RHETORICAL VOCABULARY: Alliteration
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recurrence of initial consonant sounds (“dignity and decency”, Michelle Obama) when your speech echoes another speech or famous phrase the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground” Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address contrasting two ideas, for example ﬁrst saying what you will not do, then say what you will do omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses: “I came; I saw; I conquered” Caesar. “… that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address repetition of one word for emphasis: “Alone, alone, all all alone,” Alone on a wide wide sea. Coleridge When only two solutions to a problem are suggested, and one is chosen over the other asking a question, then answering it. “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.” Winston Churchill exaggerating for effect : “I’ve told you a million times”, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”
applied? What effect does the use of these rhetorical devices have on the text? Which elements from this speech can you make use of when you create a text of your own? c) Students must know before starting the analysis what their work will be used for. Will they be participating in a class debate, writing a formal text analysis, presenting the ﬁndings individually (if working with different texts in the same group) or adding their information in key words to a class web page, for example?
two things of opposite nature mentioned together:“Day and night”, “Fire and ice” Metaphor comparison between two different things without using the word “like” or “as” Oxymoron a paradox reduced to two words (“eloquent silence”) Parallelism repeating the same sentence structure: “Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country” John F Kennedy. “To be or not to be, that is the question”. William Shakespeare Personiﬁcation giving human qualities to inanimate objects Polysyndeton the use of a conjunction between each word, phrase or clause. The opposite of asyndeton. “Let the whitefolks have their money and power and segregation and sarcasm and big houses and schools and lawns like carpets, and books, and mostly--mostly--let them have their whiteness.” Maya Angelou Simile comparison between two different things using the word “like” or “as” Rhetorical question asking a question which does not require an answer Tricolon a list of three, a sentence that has three parts: “I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically.”Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean. “Our campaign ... began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston”, Barack Obama Understatement expresses an idea as less important than it actually is Varied sentence contrasting long sentences with length short ones, for effect and emphasis
Now talk! As a ﬁnal part of the work with speeches, and as a preparation for their oral exam, I like to have students write and deliver a speech of their own. After having analysed George W. Bush’s 9-11 speech, I often challenge students to “change history” by writing another version of it, a version in which Bush does not declare a “war on terror” but instead chooses a different approach. This speech should then be delivered in front of the class, either by the student herself, or by a co-student (who has been given the written text and prepared ahead of time). I also ask each
student to make a list of the rhetorical devices they have used in the speech, and to hand these in before the speech is delivered. To make sure the audience is not passive while listening to the speeches, the students are told that after each speech they are to point out which rhetorical devices they detected in the speech. The speech-writer then has to verify the audience’s suggestions – and add any devices they forgot to mention. The presentation can subsequently be marked not only for content, structure and delivery, but also for language skills and application of rhetorical devices.
I believe that if we want students to pay more attention to the way language is used, we need to show them, through reallife examples, how others use language. If we want students to be able to discuss the use of language, we need to give them the necessary tools and vocabulary to do so. Putting more emphasis on the spoken word in the classroom will not only give the students a wider understanding of the way language is used, but can in turn help them become better, and more conﬁdent, language users.
Can you identify the rhetorical devices used in these extracts? “If you’re a daring designer, a budding botanist or simply green-ﬁngered, we want to hear from you.” (Alan Titchmarsh, Gardeners’ World Live, BBC TV, June 2001) “This election is not about the miners; not about the militants; not about the power of the unions...” (Harold Wilson, during the 1974 UK General Election campaign) “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not, what your country can do for you. | Ask what you can do for your country.” (John F Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, 1961) “…the grisly gang who work your wicked will”. (Winston Churchill, in his speech about the Luftwaffe, addresses the Nazi leaders) “We have seen peace prevail in most places for a half century. We have avoided another world war.” (Hillary Clinton, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights Speech, Beijing, China: 5 September 1995) “We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other congresses, to other presidents, and other generations”. (George W. Bush, State of the Union address, January 2003) “There are no blue states or red states; there are only the United States of America”. (President Barack Obama, 2012) “In a whirlwind of change and hope and peril, our faith is
sure, our resolve is ﬁrm and our union is strong”. (George W. Bush, State of the Union address, January 2003) “...the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.” (George W. Bush’s Inaugural Address 2001, referring to US history) “Even if the world decided tomorrow to ban these weapons, this terrible legacy of mines already in the earth would continue to plague the poor nations of the Globe. ‘The evil that men do, lives after them.’” (Princess Diana, Responding to Landmines speech) “The greatest pain in life is to be invisible. What I’ve learned is that we all just want to be heard. And I thank all the people who continue to let me hear your stories, and by sharing your stories, you let other people see themselves and for a moment, glimpse the power to change and the power to triumph.” (Oprah Winfrey, accepting the ﬁrst Bob Hope Humanitarian Award - September 22, 2002) “We are banished no more. We wander the wilderness of despair no more. We are afraid no more. For on this day, with love in our hearts, we have come out, and we have come out across America to build a bridge of understanding, a bridge of progress, a bridge as solid as steel, a bridge to a land where no one suffers prejudice because of their sexual orientation, their race, their gender, their religion, or their human difference”. (Urvashi Vaid, Gay Rights March On Washington Speech, April 25, 1993)
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LINKS MENTIONED IN THE ARTICLE:
Youtube: http://youtube.com TED: http://ted.com American rhetoric, speech bank: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/ Sweet speeches, another speech bank: http://www.sweetspeeches.com/ Extensive list of rhetorical vocabulary: http://www.virtualsalt.com/ rhetoric.htm Famous eulogies: http://www.eulogyspeech.net/ famous-eulogies
Several of the speeches mentioned can be found in audio form on the CD “Speeches that changed the world” by Simon Sebag Monteﬁore, 2005.
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One suggestion from me: Wordle: http://www.wordle.net This is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.
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! k c a r T Back on By Rasma Haidri Sjøvoll
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While I am very proud to be part of the team that produced the new Tracks all-in-one book for vocational English, my greatest excitement about the book is as a teacher of vocational English myself. I think that a single book for both Vg1 and Vg2 vocational programs will give the students greater continuity throughout their two years of study.
Vocational issues The new Tracks addresses vocational English in two distinct ways. A separate website – called Tracks Pro – is being made for each vocational program. This will be a licensebased resource where job-speciﬁc texts, themes, topics and terms are explored. There is such a wide array of vocational subjects, each with its own
speciﬁc topics and terminology, that Tracks has now moved each vocation’s speciﬁc material out of the textbook and onto the web. The ﬂexibility of the website format allows for regular updating of material. The Tracks textbook itself addresses vocational issues in two of its seven chapters. In both of these chapters,
Tasks – be attractive – be creative – always be on time oral – be able to understand written and instructions – know how to use a computer – get on well with colleagues – understand literary texts – be a practical joker dirty – not mind getting his or her hands drawings – be able to understand technical life of view tic optimis an – have
1* Understanding the text
speak English? a How many people in the world English may be b Give at least one reason why important in your job. English not c Why is learning only vocational enough? explain why d Choose two of the students and in their jobs. English will be important to them explain which e Choose two other students and e. English skills they want to improv
– be hard-working – like to care for other people of weather – like being outdoors in all kinds – enjoy teamwork
2* Understanding the student responses
ed in each Which of the ﬁve students is describ sentence? y a might work outside of Norwa speak b might have colleagues who don’t Norwegian c
d enjoys grammar writing e needs to improve reading or talking f needs to improve listening or
of the a* Retell in Norwegian at least two 1. ﬁndings in the report on page 107/11 important. What b Having good English skills is the list at other qualities are important? Look e ﬁve of personal qualities below. Choos ant import are personal qualities that you think in for someone who is going to work ion professions covered by your educat programme. profession A person who wants a future in my should … n childre with good – be ers – be friendly and polite to custom
– have technical abilities ﬁlm and music – know the latest trends in clothes, – know how to cook
4 Working with numbers
of When talking and writing about parts But for numbers, we often use percentages. we may 107, page on facts the in as variation, sions with “in” also use fractions (brøk) or expres ﬁfths = two = cent per 40 le: Examp or “out of”. two in ﬁve / two out of ﬁve. at least into below ts amoun Convert each of the one of the other expressions. a 10 per cent b three in four c
task Use the notes from the pre-reading task. (p. 107) when doing this writing nt on the comme you Write a personal text where you. What will importance of learning English for ional profess future English mean to you in your facing? What life? What challenges will you be nd comma good a beneﬁts do you see in having English will be of English? Call your text: “How important for me”. ’s website, so The text is intended for your school ge such as you should avoid informal langua slang expressions.
60 per cent
d one ﬁfth e a quarter f
seven out of ten
ate’s. Compare your choices with a classm “musts” in Decide which ones are top three explain Then . chosen have you ion the profess on to the rest of the class how you agreed list. ee your top-thr
Mean and meaning
ly start In Norwegian you would probab … / Eg sentences like this: “Jeg mener at cannot use meiner at …”. But in English you say: I must you , Instead here. mean the verb think that … or I believe that … m: proble a also is g” Norwegian “menin g er at …” “Min mening er at … / Mi meinin is that …. has to be My opinion/view/belief / Etter mi The phrase “Etter min mening … as In English in said be meining …” would my opinion/view … g are meanin In English the words mean and used in sentences like: “Hva mener – What do you mean by that? = med du med det?” / “Kva meiner du det?” “Hva betyr – What’s the meaning of this? = dette?” / “Kva tyder dette? ”
Mason at work
client? ne, what are you? A customer? A If you buy something from someo tions on the right. the terms on the left with the descrip Well, that depends. Try to match A customer is someone A buyer is someone A client is someone A patient is someone A guest is someone
lawyer, a hairdresser, etc. who gets services from a bank, a , restaurants, etc. who gets service in hotels, hostels s in a shop who typically buys goods and service , for example a car or a house who buys property off another person example in a hospital who gets medical treatment, for
students are asked to reﬂect on their own vocational choices and work with program-speciﬁc vocational vocabulary that they ﬁnd on the book’s free website. Chapter 3 Work Matters introduces students to issues in working life, such as choosing a career, identifying vocations, ﬁnding jobs, conducting interviews, and evaluating the role of English in the workplace. In this chapter there is also vocabulary for talking about professions, customers, accidents and tools. Chapter 6 Work Values focuses on work-related ethical issues such as gender roles, discrimination and child labor. Lastly, health, environment and safety – or HES – are presented, and there is a suggested oral crosscurricular project on these themes. Skills Basic skills have always been an important part of the Tracks series. In the new textbook they are enhanced with even more variety and differentiation. In addition there
is focus on speaking, listening and numerical competence. Above is a sample task page from chapter three. In tasks 1 and 2 reading comprehension is checked. Note that some questions ask for the main idea, while others focus on detail. This distinction between main ideas and details is a recurring theme in the book. Strategies for listening or reading for main ideas and details are taught in various mini-lessons, before being put into practice like in the tasks above. The aim of Tracks is to motivate all students in learning English. Blue stars identify easier tasks that all students – main text readers and shortcut readers – should be able to do. As well as checking comprehension, these tasks often give students a chance to reﬂect and talk. On the page shown above, the red circle and arrow on task ﬁve shows the task is a demanding one where more teacher guidance is likely to be needed.
You may notice that the basic skills of reading, speaking, writing and using numbers are addressed in one or more of the tasks on this page. In the Toolbox, we present language or writing issues with which students often struggle. Toolboxes appear throughout the book with simple explanations and examples that students can use as a quick reference.
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Society, culture and literature There are ﬁve chapters on society and culture. Chapter one deals with global English and chapters two and four present English-speaking societies in North America and the British Isles. Chapter ﬁve presents the societies of South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. Last but not least, chapter seven proﬁles indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand and North America. In all these chapters there are carefully selected literary texts that aim to further enhance students’ awareness. Reading strategies The book contains a wide array of texts, both factual and literary, in a
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Tasks 3 Vocabulary
1* False statements
Emma (17): Heli-skiing
high up g. A helicopter takes you My favorite is heli-skiin powI love all winter sports. Then you ski down on off. you s drop and d snow be into an area of untouche straight down. There can res met 0 300 be can s. The run I plan der snow with no trail g. Next summer holiday doin are you t wha w kno on south of avalanches. You need to the largest heli-ski regi friend in Wanaka. It’s to go heli-skiing with a the equator.
2 Comparing sports
in me sports mentioned Choose one of the extre me sport you practise the text and a non-extre or all footb t (for example yourself or know abou ram (see p. 142) and skiing). Make a Venn diag ts. spor two the pare com key words about the – In the left circle: write single participant extreme sport. Example: key words about the – In the right circle: write n players eleve other sport. Example: ts key words the two spor – In the middle: write ple: exciting have in common. Exam
ping island in sport. It started on an most famous extreme tradition, then men the Bungy-jumping is our ted star en Wom sand years ago. 1980s Vanautu more than a thou jump from towers. In the s around their ankles and took over. They tie vine made two New Zealanders ness. a bungy-jumping busi s inThey used rubber rope
Esther (18): Bungy-jum
inside the cm thick. You get tied ball with walls about 70 h 50 kilometres A zorb is a huge plastic hill. The zorb can reac a n dow d rolle then water middle of the ball, and safe. Sometimes they put ion in the wall keeps you day with my Mum per hour. The air cush I started zorbing on holi nd. arou slide you inside the ball and a zorb centre. I got a job working at and Dad. Last summer
Zach (18): Zorbing
think metres holiday e zorb
about se teenagers are talking for extreme sports. The New Zealand is famous some of them.
from the word cloud and a* Choose ﬁve words three sentences. use them to write at least
Extreme Sports in New Zealand
ences. Comment on your Correct these false sent changes. not popular in New a Extreme sports are Zealand. you lie on top of. b A zorb is a big ball s to areas with lots of c Heli-skiing takes skier people. very new sport. d Bungy-jumping is a a lot when bungye It is important to think jumping.
d s from the text are mixe b The following word the last letters are up. Only the ﬁrst and they are t Wha s? word correct. What are the in Norwegian? runas – gecailr rttooain – bekcut – dgeo – bahtdiry – hptcoeilr – arednilan teenagers use to c What words do the sport experiences? describe their extreme a short text about a Make a list. Now write one you would like to sport you have tried, or s from your list can try. How many of the word you use when writing?
4 Talking Discuss: for tried out these sports a* The teenagers here a special occasion, the ﬁrst time to celebrate like doing you do t Wha ay. or when on holid occasion? What unusual to celebrate a special t have you tried while activity or extreme spor on holiday? talked about in the text b* Which of the sports Why? would you like to try? have to risk their lives c Sometimes people , for example, fallen saving others who have Rescue missions and off a cliff while climbing. society a lot of money. hospital treatment cost me sports should be Does this mean that extre opinion. banned? Explain your
stead of vines. On my sixteenth birth bour day I jumped from Har and Bridge. Once my mother tied I jumped with our feet ing is together. Bungy-jump tan amazing rush, but frigh to ening too. You just have ut it. jump, and not think abo
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variety of genres. Reading strategies are taught in mini-lessons and prereading activities, then mentioned regularly in the tasks. Special focus is given on using different reading strategies for different outcomes and purposes. Strategies for reading ted separately literature are presented from factual texts. Young adult literature Many of the literary texts in Tracks have a teenage protagonist facing a teenage dilemma in a teenage setting. They are in the genre of Young Adult (YA) literature. In one story (see picture) we have a sixteenyear-old Australian girl facing a typical teenage issue of choosing something
to wear that others won’t make fun of. However, in this case the question is: does she want to wear the hijab or not? Living in the multicultural society of modern Australian complicates her teenage dilemma. As is often the case with YA literature,
this story uses humor to balance out the darker side of teenage angst. There is a mixture of male and female protagonists in the literary excerpts used in Tracks, but all of them bring up social issues that relate to both genders. labelled stemplet/ stempla odd one out den som skiller seg ut / den som skil seg ut primary school grunnskole to legitimise å tillate Eid id (muslimsk høytid) / (muslimsk høgtid) to taunt å spotte, å erte unpronounceable umulig å uttale / umogleg å uttale sunnies solbriller rollcall (navne)opprop/ (namne)opprop
s the adventures Look Big in This? follow The novel Does My Head g with a mum who is teen-year-old girl dealin of Amal, a typical seven young and cool is he thinks who and a dad obsessed with cleaning Amal also faces the issports car. In addition, enough to drive a red tinian-Muslim”. Just -Pales ralian “Aust an sues that come with being ger in multicultural are Muslims. For a teena over 1% of Australians also being true to of wanting to ﬁt in while Australia, the dilemma nging. yourself can be extra challe Discuss with a classmate: it comes to teens ng and hairstyle when a How important is clothi other? liking and accepting each l? Explain. schoo in ear n about headw b What is your opinio ng a baseball cap and same way to a boy weari c Do you react in the and a girl wearing a n turba a ng weari A boy a girl wearing a hijab? one scarf? Explain. to ﬁt in and be like every tant, impor more is d What do you think unique? else or to stand out as
Does My Head Look Big in This?
by Randa Abdel-Fattah
obsessed with besatt av / besett av headwear hodeplagg/ hovudplagg guts tæl, kraft, styrke presence tilstedeværelse/nærvær immediate her: nær(meste)/ nær(maste) mosque moské home-room klasserom nostril nesebor/ nasebore
got the guts to do it. ing about whether I’ve I can’t sleep from stress -timers” are what head scarf, full-time. “Full To wear the hijab, the the hijab all the time, wear who girls call I my Muslim friends and e in the presence you’r ever wearing it when which basically means rs” like me wear diate family. “Part-time of males who aren’t imme ic school or Islam an at rm school unifo the hijab as part of our we’re having a ue or maybe even when when we go to the mosq bad hair day. Four days to of my school holidays. I’ve got four days left third term at to actually start on my decide whether I’m going d know that shoul You l as a full-timer. McCleans Grammar Schoo -room with the of stepping into my home right now the thought edge. on stand nostril hair hijab on is making my in with it on. class will say if I walk I can’t imagine what my dream another walking-into-class-naked Oh boy does this give the
naked. I’m walkcase, I’m not walking in dimension. Except in my out into a sweat. yet I’m still breaking ing in fully covered and to go through school going I’m and out They’re all going to freak st loser of all time.<…> officially labelled the bigge used to being the h, it’s not like I’m not Come to think of it, thoug l because we a Catholic primary schoo odd one out. I attended parents didn’t my and l schoo ic an Islam lived too far away from <…> the distance twice a day. have the time to travel red socks were ry school, different colou prima in was I When So when you’re a legitimise a good tease. enough difference to ing nickname taunt in (as ie elebrating Moss non-pork eating, Eid-c e surname and with an unpronounceabl for Muslim, not mosquito) hijab and Gua ng weari l schoo up from a mum who picks you s peace’ bumper a car with an ‘Islam mean cci sunnies, and drives is impossible. sticker, a quiet existence in the Arabic letter a sneeze sound like Hey Amal, why does a language? chip? e and bacon Hey Amal, want a chees a camel as a pet? Hey Amal, do you have you “Anal” at e the sub teacher called Hey Amal, did you notic
a) What are full-timers and part-timers? b) What are three reasons Amal gives for wearing the hijab? c) Why is Amal feeling so stressed she can’t sleep? d) What kind of school did Amal go to as a child? Why?
rollcall this morning?
Revision: Chapter 3 Talk ingKS Course 2: TAS Shortcuts Learning targets: self-evaluation 1. xxxxx Shortcuts are an Oral Presentations important feature in An oral presentation can be about almost anything: a place, an event, a person, a book, a film … you name it. You can use the differentiation it to inform people, to instruct them, to entertain them or to persuade them. Since a presenin Tracks. Shortcuts tation is both visual and aural (i.e. you lisWriting ten to it), it can be a very effective way of are aimed at delivering ideas and information. Nerves students who may Do you feel nervous when you have to speak in front of an audience? Well, join Chapter key words the club. struggle with the Most people do. Even people who do it for a living feel at least a slight quicken ing of Grammar teaser 3: Pronouns complete text. As the pulse when all those eyes are turned on them. (Ask your teacher!) The best way to combat nervousness is to be prepare is shown on page d. That means having a clear idea of what you are going to present and how you are 16, the shortcut going to do it. Also make sure your presenta tion is strong visually; the more the audienc e is result is that they lose interest can be illustrated and find somelooking at other things (see “visual aids” be- thing better to do. So whatever else you do low), the less they will be looking at you. in an oral presentation – don’t read with a photo that aloud! In a proper oral presentation, the Talk – don’t read! presenter speaks directly to the audienc Imagine e, perif your teacher came into the class- haps can be used as a using notes to help him or her rememroom at the beginning of the lesson, took out ber points. These notes should be no more a piece of paper and began reading aloud in than key words. If you starting point for are using PowerPoint a monotonous voice: “Good morning , class. or some other presenta tion software, you Today we are going to learn about English as don’t even need notes. See Toolbox on the discussions. The a global language. Please open your books at website for help on making notes for oral page 134 …” I think you will agree it would presentations. be rather odd. If she continued to comprehension do so, it A final important note: if you prepare would also become terribly boring. your presentation by memorizing sentence For an audience, the difference between by tasks marked with sentence what you are going to say, you will being spoken to and read to is enormous. sound like you are reading! Remember: the When someone is reading, their face and point of oral presenta a blue star can be tions is to show you attention is directed towards the text. The can speak freely on a topic you have learned audience notices this immediately and the about. answered after reading either the shortcut or The focus in both courses is on the original text. Notice the different method for getting students to use choosing a style of language to match the key chapter vocabulary. A writing vocabulary tasks here. One of the the purpose and situation. task, often based on a former exam tasks this time is using a Venn question, is also given. diagram. A full English resource The Tracks textbook and website make Writing and talking courses Chapter targets a complete vocational English course. Above you can see the beginning of and review The fundamental skills are repeated the Talking Course about giving oral Each chapter starts out with a set in every chapter. The book gives presentations. One of the unique of key words and targets, covering students coming to new schools in features of Tracks is the eight culture and society, reading, writing, Vg2, as many do for their vocational Writing and Talking mini-courses oral, digital and numerical skills. specialization, easy access to what that are found between the chapters. Each chapter ends with a revision they “were supposed to learn last The writing courses help students in page. Here students are given a year”. In addition, the single book using formal and informal registers, framework to reﬂect on how well for all vocational programs over both they master the aims of the chapter. structuring paragraphs and essays, years gives teachers an advantage The review includes a hands-on taking notes and writing coherently. when it comes to cooperative encounter with a grammar problem The talking courses help students teaching, planning and test-making with follow-up tasks on the website. with different types of spoken tasks, Each chapter revision uses a different from small talk to oral presentations. within a school. These are just some of the features of Tracks t make it an inspiring that Pre-writing #6: r resource for both teachers Pre-writing #4: Writing Course 2: a students. and 7) can tell you what you should think about before going to a job interview 8) can explain what it means to take pride in your work 9) can tell you about the career they are aiming for Afterwards, go through the question s in class and tell your classmates who gave you the answer and explain what the person said.
a Work with a partner. Go to page 102 and read the learning targets given there. Make “I can” statements for each target – for example “I can use mathema tical vocabulary”. Then tell your partner if you can do this … – very well – quite well – not very well Also discuss: What can you do to improve your skills? b Go to the website to ﬁnd a full list of learning targets for the chapter as well as tasks for self-evaluation.
There are many different kinds of pronouns, and they have difﬁcult names. Do you know the difference between possessiv e pronouns, relative pronouns and reﬂexive pronoun s? There is help and lots of tasks to practise on – just go to the website! Try this task ﬁrst to test your pronoun skills.
Which alternative is correct? a John thinks that his / he’s dog is the cutest dog on earth. b I can see my car, but where is your / yours?
c Peter is the only one who / which can do it. d Paula has a bike who / which has to be ﬁxed. e I had to tell her the whole truth, who / which / that was a very hard thing to do. f In the end they had to do everythin g self / themselves / them self.
a. his, b: yours, c: who, d: which, e:
which, f: themselves
Write a 5-paragraph essay (see page 198) in which you comment on the importan ce of English in the workplace. Include examples of how English is used in Norwegian companies. Use articles from this book or other sources to illustrate your discussion.
Make questions out of the points given below. Go around class and ﬁnd someone who can help you answer the question s. For each question you must write down the answer you have been given and the name of the person who has given it to you. You can ask each person one question only. Example: Can you explain to me the difference between job and work?
Find someone who … 1) can explain the difference between job and work 2) can give you English words for ﬁve different tools in your work ﬁeld 3) can give you three pieces of advice for ﬁnding a job 4) can tell you about an accident he or she has heard of or witnessed 5) can give you at least three facts about a profession someone in their family has 6) can give you information about some of the differences between different systems of measurement
Planning Your Text – Six Steps to Success
What does it mean to plan your long text? These six steps will give you everything you need to get started writing a good essay.
Choose some sources. An essay needs well-developed ideas. Use examples, facts, definitions and information from other texts to back up your ideas. (See the text “Using Sources” in Toolbox on the website.) Sometimes exam questions will tell you to use literature and film as sources. Other exam questions assume you will use factual texts from textbooks or other sources. Combine examples and information from sources with your own opinions to make a solid and interesting discussion.
Pre-writing #5: 15
Pre-writing #1: Read the task carefully. Underline the key words that tell you what to do. Let’s find the key words in one of the exam tasks mentioned in Writing Course 1. Write an essay using “Love the Way You Lie” and other songs to discuss this statement: Do bands feel a duty to comment on social issues, or are they more interested in singing about themselves and their personal issues? Key words: Write ... essay ... use “Love the way” & other songs ... discuss: Do bands comment social issues ... or sing about themselves?
Pre-writing #2: Find the purpose. In the example above, the key word “discuss” tells the purpose of the text. Here is a list of purposes and what they mean. – discuss: explain different sides of an issue, give reasons why, recommend one – compare and contrast: point out what is the same and what is different between two topics – write a review: give a personal evaluation of a book or film
Brainstorm your ideas. Use five minutes to write down everything you can think of related to the topic. Write fast. Be messy. Don’t worry about spelling. Write a list, mind map, or a free text. Force yourself to keep coming up with key words until the five minutes have passed. What you write during the brainstorming will be used in the final pre-writing step.
Organize the key ideas into a plan. Read over the brainstorming to pick out key words or ideas to put in the essay. Sort them into groups of related ideas. Then organize these groups into the structure of your essay.
When you are done organizing, you are ready to write! Here are three tools to help you organize the key ideas into a plan.
1) Mind Map
Imagine you are going to write a text presenting Global English. Put the words “Global English” in a circle in the middle of the page. Connect key words to the circle in the middle to make a mind map:
popular culture lingua franca
USA – write a speech: inform, persuade or entertain an audience about a topic – analyze: show you understand the ideas in a text or film – explain: present one topic or issue fully, all sides – summarize: give the main features of a topic, but leave out details
colonies other Englishes
Choose the style of writing (formal or informal) and text type or genre (essay, speech, letter, report, article). The task will usually tell you what type of text to write and the situation. In general, use a more formal rather than informal style on long written texts. See more on formal and informal style on page 98.
Draw a line to connect “UK” with “colonies”. Then connect “colonies” with “other Englishes” because other Englishes developed in the colonies. Move “media” and “popular culture” to “USA” because they came from there. Keep adding key words from your brainstorming. Is there anywhere to put “lingua franca”? Maybe you need to add a circle that says “foreign language” and connect it to “lingua franca”. Hmm, perhaps “native language” and “second language” should go in as circles somewhere …? You see how working with organizing your key words helps you think through the topic you will write about. 141
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T Tracks contains such a w wealth of visual, audio aand written material tthat I think teachers will ﬁnd plenty to challenge aadvanced students as well aas differentiate for weaker oones. The underlying aapproach of Tracks is to g students a sense of give mastery of English skills, while exploring issues they care about in English.
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Read It! Zadie Smith’s breakthrough novel White Teeth came in 2000, while she was still a student at Cambridge. It was exceptionally well received and has by now become a modern classic. Since then Zadie Smith’s writing has diversiﬁed into short stories and essays, which may be one of the reasons why her most recent novel, NW, is only her fourth.
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Like White Teeth, NW is, more than anything else, a London novel. We meet Leah, Natalie, Nathan and Felix, four thirty-somethings who have grown up on the same northwest London council estate and are now trying to make a life for themselves in different parts of the city. In fact, descriptions of London feature prominently in the novel; the city is not simply a backdrop but an inherent part of these characters’ stories. In Smith’s narrative the whereabouts of the characters are constantly referred to; as if to emphasise the fact that their roots are inextricably linked with their identity, their choices and their aspirations. As they move across the city their business, personal and professional, becomes interwoven with the city itself. The characters and the setting are like the warp and weft of a piece of fabric, the one inconceivable without the other.
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Even though these four Londoners have spent their early years in the same neighbourhood, they are in many respects dissimilar, which is apparent from how their lives have turned out. Leah and Natalie are the quintessential good girls – academically gifted and hardworking. By going to university they are able to join the professional middle classes and buy their own properties. At heart, however, they are council estate girls. They still
have close ties with their part of the city, going back regularly to visit their families, accidentally meeting their contemporaries on the streets of London and never failing to be surprised at how their lives have taken a very different course from those of their school friends. Considering where they came from, the lives of the two young men have developed in a more predictable way. Not only do Felix and Nathan serve as a contrast to the two survivor girls, they contribute to making Smith’s slice of London life a realistic one. Felix grew up in a motherless household with a Rastafarian father and three siblings. He is emotionally unstable and has experienced many ups and downs. Even though he is a trained mechanic, he has had difﬁculties holding down a regular job and has had a spell on drugs. When we meet him, however, he has pulled himself together, mostly thanks to his determined girlfriend. Finally, there is Nathan, the archetypal loser, who is homeless, a drug addict and a criminal. In the novel he occasionally crosses the paths of Leah and Natalie, only to remind them of the thin line between failure and success. Nowhere is this question addressed more explicitly than at the end of the novel, when Leah, now a social worker, feels guilty about living a comfortable middle-class life while some of her peers have ended up on the streets or even got killed. She asks her friend Natalie, who is a successful barrister: “I just don’t understand why I have this life”, she said quietly. “What?” “You, me all of us. Why that girl and not us. Why that poor bastard
NW by Zadie Smith Reviewed by Siri Hunstadbråten
on Albert Road. [Felix, who ends up getting killed.] It doesn’t make sense to me.” Natalie frowned and folded her arms across her body. She had expected a more difﬁcult question. “Because we worked harder,” she said, laying her head on the back of the bench to consider the wide-open sky. “We were smarter and we knew we didn’t want to end up begging on other people’s doorsteps. We wanted to get out. People like [Nathan] Bogle – they didn’t want it enough. I’m sorry if you ﬁnd that answer ugly, Lee, but it’s the truth. This is one of the things you learn in the courtroom: people generally get what they deserve. “ The entire novel has been building up to this conclusion. Leah and Natalie, who to all intents and purposes are happy escapees from council estate life, feel strangely dissatisﬁed and displaced. The opening scene, which takes place on an unnaturally hot summer day, is disturbing. Leah is lazing in her fenced-in garden, and on the surface everything is blissfully perfect. It seems as if nothing much is really happening. Still, the heat feels oppressive, a foreboding that something sinister is about to happen. Suddenly, the plot is set in motion. Shar, a desperate drug-addict, literally bursts into Leah’s house, begging for money. Their encounter is as surprising as it is accidental. They realise that they went to the same school, are the same age and grew up with the same people. Shar’s presence in her kitchen makes Leah acutely aware of the differences between them, but she still feels that they have something in common. This is the reason why she believes Shar’s story and gives her the money she
needs, supposedly just a loan. Not surprisingly, it turns out that Shar was just taking advantage of her. She needed the money to pay for drugs and never pays it back. Afterwards, Leah feels stupid for having been so gullible. Shar, whose life is one of chaos and misery, is a streetwise cynic while Leah is a politically correct do-gooder. They are living side by side, but might as well be living worlds apart. Leah had thought she was safe in her garden, physically and mentally shut out from the unwanted aspects of city life: trafﬁc, noise, crime and people of the wrong kind. She was wrong. This uncomfortable truth troubles her throughout the novel, as does the knowledge that she is more fortunate than so many of her peers. Even so, she is not really happy and has doubts about many aspects of her life. Her friend Natalie, whose life is outwardly perfect, also has her doubts. She has a shining career at the bar, a handsome and caring husband, a lovely house and two children, but ﬁnds that having exactly what she has fought so hard to get is not enough. Most importantly, her family does not recognize how, against all odds, she has succeeded in a profession more ridden by class differences than perhaps any other. No matter how hard she tries to make them understand, they are unable and unwilling to grasp how impressive her achievement is. Their lack of recognition makes her feel alienated and reckless. Only when she ﬁnds herself seeking excitement in extramarital sex and is found out by her husband, does she realise how much she has to lose, and then it is too late.
The stories we are presented with in NW are, to be honest, not extraordinary. On the contrary, they are quite commonplace, and that is probably the point. So why, then, should you consider reading it? I would say that it is more the telling than the subject matter that makes NW worth reading. Zadie Smith’s narrative technique as well as her use of language come across as invigorating. NW is sometimes told in a conventionally chronological manner, sometimes in fragments that the reader has to piece together. The perspective keeps changing, rather like a camera lens, ranging from sweeping views of London to closeups of the characters’ feelings or surroundings. The point of view keeps changing too, even though Leah and Natalie’s stories do take prominence.
Actually, it was only when I leafed through the novel once more, for the purpose of writing this review, that I realised that NW is perhaps best appreciated in little morsels. Its fragmentary nature makes what is on the page stand out more clearly, and may be interpreted as Smith’s effort to capture the multitude of voices constituting the diversity of London life. By cutting back on some of the usual upholstery of a conventional novel, Smith forces the reader herself to make sense of its constituent parts, rather like the way the characters have to do in their lives. In this way NW is not a coherent story; nor, for that matter, is life.
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Zadie Smith signs copies of her novel NW at Waterstones in London (©NTBscanpix)
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