What do you mean "Who was Marylin Monroe?!" I asked astonished when my grade 8 asked the question. We were reading a text about famous American and British singers and actors exercising Simple Past Tense.
Mentioning names and life stories I noticed glimpse of question marks floating above their heads. They had no clue who they were reading about. As I discovered, living in a small village they are not very informed on the subject.
I changed my plan of revising grammar the next session and decided to give them research work. Each pupil got a famous person (Frank Sinatra, Marylin, Audrey Hepburn, Elisabeth Taylor, etc.) and the task to find out something interesting about them, make posters with photos and biographies, using the internet.
My colleagues made fun of me saying I was wasting my time because pupils couldn’t care less about it.
We had an interesting class; they read their papers, we watched a“Frank Sinatra and friends” DVD, they saw the famous Marylin Monroe dress scene and heard the “Happy birthday Mr President” song. All went well and I was pleased with how they reacted.
But a surprise was just to come a couple of months later. Elisabeth Taylor died and it was all over the news. I thought to myself – as soon as I get to school I will ask them if they knew what had happened.
I just got of the bus and entered the playground when they ran to me shouting “Miss Ana, our Liz died!!” :)
Doing something else they had overheard the news and were attracted by different information, some remembered her name, some her “violet” eyes, some that she had 7 husbands.. but they all knew!
ELT is not just about the language, its about history, stile and basic knowledge of the world.
They can´t walk around thinking Sinatra was a baseball player, now can they?! :)))
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