What a tangled web we should weave: Teaching English, promoting critical awareness and using art in EFL classes by Alexandre Dias Pinto & Carlota Miranda Dias Pinto

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The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of EFL classes in the education of young people and to suggest a methodological path that can be productive and effective in learning English as a Foreign Language. According to the aims of this subject of the Portuguese school system (and, for that matter, of other school systems), EFL students are expected to learn English as well as to find in these classes the conditions and the stimuli that will allow them to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the English-speaking world and to develop their personality. We believe that an adequate approach, supported by motivating, culturally rich materials, will enable students to acquire cultural, historical and social knowledge, to develop their critical awareness and to reflect on issues of the contemporary world and of their day-to-day life. In order to achieve these objectives, the methodology followed hinges on the use of appealing literary texts and works of art integrated in the interactive strategies of the task-based learning (Nunan, 1989; Skehan, 1996). Despite the fact that several authors advocate the use of art and literature in EFL classes, our approach selects the development of the students' critical awareness along with learning English as its two main aims. An example of a unit plan about parent-child relationship will also be presented so as to illustrate the ideas and guidelines stated in the first part.

I. Introduction

As it once happened with alchemists, teachers dream that they can combine different ingredients - motivation, personality development, didactic and language contents (language skills, grammar, culture, etc.) - in their classes and come up with a complex chemical compound that, by the end of the lesson, would turn into gold. Teachers are not real alchemists, alas! But the risk they run of playing the role of Victor Frankenstein (another pseudo-alchemist) and of turning their students into insensitive, brainless creatures is not as far away as teachers would like to think.

We fear that the main role of school - contributing to the education of young people and helping them to become constructive, enlightened members of society - is being underestimated by several EFL teachers. Therefore, after revising the main pedagogical and didactic principles and the general aims of the English as Foreign Language syllabus of the Portuguese school system, we will present a methodological path that can motivate students - so experience tells us -, putting them into contact with facts and issues of our world (past and present) and making them reflect (critically) upon these issues in order to expand their knowledge and develop their critical awareness. Several activities and practical suggestions will be put forward.

II. Pedagogical and Didactic Principles

The task of the EFL teacher is to promote the conditions and to promote the circumstances that will enable students to learn the English language; in other words, the main objective of EFL classes is to teach English to foreign students and this priority must never be underestimated. Nevertheless, because EFL teachers are integrated in a national school system (in this case, the Portuguese school system), they have to follow the guidelines and the educational policies defined by the Ministry of Education. Consequently, they are expected to contribute to the holistic education of their students. Along with parents, teachers play a crucial role in building up the values and the personality of a teenager as well as his concept of citizenship.

This means that, apart from helping students to develop their language skills in English (reading, listening, speaking and writing), EFL teachers should take advantage of this golden opportunity, which is learning a foreign language and contacting with different cultures - not only the British and the North-American, but also the Irish, the Australian and other African, Asian and American cultures that find expression in the English language -, in order to allow students to explore and reflect on different aspects and problems of their day-to-day lives and of the world in general and to make them think (critically) about these facts and issues. School has been regarded as a place where young people acquire different skills and a wide range of information on different matters and fields of knowledge; in other words, it has been seen as the institution that teaches adolescents what they need in order to find a suitable profession or trade when the time comes. However, more and more, parents, teachers, pedagogues and even politicians realize that the education of young citizens - i.e., the building of a creative, responsible, constructive, open-minded individual - is, at least, as important as teaching them facts and abilities. In one sentence, we believe that teaching English and contributing to the education of the students are two objectives that should walk hand in hand in EFL classes.

According to the general aims defined in the EFL syllabus (those that go beyond learning the English language and are related to the personal development of the student), English classes should be a place where students are able to discover and explore aspects of their own character as well as of the world around them. In the introductory text to the Portuguese syllabus of English as Foreign Language it is stated that:

A language is a potential space of expression of the Self, a space that facilitates the relationship between people and the establishment of social interaction. As a determining factor of socialization and of personal self-esteem, a language gives one the means to develop the consciousness of oneself and of the others, to translate attitudes and values and to have access to knowledge and to demonstrate his skills and abilities. (Translated from Programas de Inglês, 1997: 5)

Still according to the same text, EFL teachers are expected to facilitate the achievement of pedagogical aims such as:

• to combine the language competence with the student's personal and social development;
• to make multidisciplinary approaches possible;
• to promote the understanding and the respect for socially and culturally differentiated universes;
• to emphasise the social and the cultural dimension of language. (…)
• to explore aspects of the Anglo-American culture, reflecting on the different patterns of life and social behaviour. (Translated from Programa de Inglês, 1997: 5-6)

No matter how much we believe that the task-based learning, which hinges on a communicative approach to language learning (the dominant method followed in EFL classes in Portugal), is an effective method to teach a foreign language, we must agree that on its own it does not provide a satisfactory answer to the aims and demands defined in the EFL syllabus in question because this approach has not been conceived to privilege the educational role that these classes may play. This means that the main aims and the priorities defined by this didactic approach are not directly orientated to contribute to the students' holistic education in order to make them citizens who play a constructive role in society - respecting other individuals and other cultures, promoting social justice, etc. - and who are able to think critically about the problems of that community.

Despite having already explained the main principles and goals of the approach that we are presenting, we feel that it would be useful to sum them up. Hence, the main aims of the approach that is being described are:
.to improve the student's ability to understand and use the English language, by mastering the four language skills and understanding how the language works;

• to contribute to the development of the students' character;
• to promote values such as tolerance, justice, solidarity and respect towards the Other;
• to develop the students' critical awareness concerning issues of the contemporary world (racism, social injustice, the parent-child relationship, etc.);
• to expand the students' knowledge of the cultures of the English-speaking world;
• to develop the students' creativity and their imagination;
• to promote the students' interest for art in its different forms of expression: literature, painting, sculpture, photography, music, etc. (see part III).

Apart from the first one, the other aims are mainly pedagogical and should not be dissociated from the central didactic goal of EFL classes, namely to teach students how to speak English. The approach that we advance here reveals several affinities with, and is influenced by, a pedagogical theory known as Critical Pedagogy (cf. Freire, 1982; Boyce, 1996; Pennycook, 1999). We acknowledge the importance of this educational theory in the emphasis that it places on the development of the students' critical awareness and social consciousness during the learning process. The only reason why our approach is not grounded on the principles of Critical Pedagogy is because we disagree with the overwhelming ideological weight that such a theory wants to bring to classrooms. We fear that, if the learning process is misdirected - because a given teacher is too eager to persuade his students about the righteousness of his ideological positions and values - the students will be mentally conditioned to accept certain assertive views of society without having the knowledge or the experience to question them. In other words, despite realising that there is always an ideological basis underneath any pedagogical theory, we think that education cannot run the risk of being intensely politicised - an example of a course programme in which ideology plays an overwhelming role can be seen in Donald Hones's article, "U.S. Justice? Critical Pedagogy and the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" (Hones, 1999).

Nevertheless, we recognise the important role played by pedagogues such as Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux and other "critical pedagogues" in stressing the need to reflect on and discuss social issues and the problems of the "oppressed" (the "powerless" and the "voiceless") in schools. Furthermore, we assume that one of the aims of the approach we are advancing here is to enhance the social consciousness of adolescents and young adults.
We know that teachers will agree that learning English as a Foreign Language can play an important role in the education of young people, but they are not taking advantage of the full potentialities of such classes. In fact, as we stated before, one of the reasons that led us to write this paper is that we feel that the educational role of EFL classes has been underestimated by teachers - at least by several Portuguese teachers. Another reason was that we would like to leave suggestions to all our colleagues (Portuguese or not) about ways of introducing and exploring cultural topics and of promoting the development of the students' critical awareness in English language classes.

III. Methodology

In order to achieve the aims and goals that we defined in the previous section, we have to bring to EFL classes didactic contents (historical, cultural and social contents) and didactic material (reproductions of paintings, art photos and sculptures) that are not usually explored there. Thus, we propose an approach in which art plays an important role in the language learning process, in the expansion of the student's cultural, social and historical knowledge and in the development of his critical consciousness. At this stage, we feel that we need to repeat that learning English is, of these three aims, the one that is central in EFL classes, whereas the other two can be introduced in a natural way; still, we think that they should not be underestimated. We do not claim that the use of art in EFL classes is originally our idea. Interesting suggestions and examples may be found in several textbooks and essays - cf. Cranmer, 1995; Collie and Ladousse, 1991; McRae and Pantaleoni, 1992; Paula, Sousa and Lourinho, 1995.

We believe that task-based learning (cf. Nunan, 1989; Skehan, 1996), as a learner-centred methodology, emerges as the one that is best suited to achieve such aims. Students are expected to play an active role in the process and are encouraged to explore and to find the solutions to the problems (linguistic or social problems) that they are faced with. Furthermore, the concept of task brings the sense of purpose to the activities performed by students: producing a poster or a leaflet, writing a letter, etc. - for instance, a task may consist of writing a letter to UNICEF, reporting the existence of famine in a specific region of the planet and asking this organisation to take measures in order to solve the problem.

Thus, it is our belief that it is possible to articulate social and cultural contents and art materials with the methodology of task-based learning. This combination has been put into practice by us and by other Portuguese colleagues and the result has been successful. It has also proved to be very satisfactory in motivating students.

One of the difficulties that teachers have been trying to tackle for the past decades is motivation. Each one of us (teachers) has searched the best strategies and activities to captivate the interest of our students. Several authors of EFL textbooks think that they are able to motivate students by using certain didactic material, which in fact will not fulfil the purpose of motivating the whole class: photos of (outdated) pop singers, biographies of famous actors, artificial dialogues between teenagers, unappealing cartoons are bonfires that extinguish rather quickly, do not capture the interest of the average student and are not educative aids in the students' learning process.

On the other hand, our experience - along with the experience of several EFL teacher trainers and teachers trained at the University of Lisbon and at the (Portuguese) Open University - tells us that literary texts and reproductions of works of art may be used in EFL classes in order to achieve the pedagogical and didactic aims stated above. Art - taken in the broad sense - is a fertile land in which we may find motivating and educational teaching materials that can be integrated and explored in activities of EFL classes. In other words, it is possible and advisable to use poems, excerpts from novels or short stories, reproductions of paintings, art photos of sculptures, musical pieces (etc.) to teach English. Of course the teacher has to be very selective when he is choosing the appropriate materials, which have to be appealing, intriguing and thought-provoking in order to challenge the student to respond to them: to analyse them, say what they think about them or to establish associations between them and the world which we live in. On the other hand, such materials must be adequate to the level of the students in question. Experience has taught us that a painting such as Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory (www.ocaiw.com/1dali.htm), with its mysterious, enigmatic and even bizarre features, is more challenging and thought-provoking than any photo of a mall, which we find in magazines or in advertisement. Furthermore, the former certainly has a wider educational value than the latter. It is also expected that the work of art is able to educate the aesthetic dimension of the students' personality.

At this stage, we feel that it will be useful to advance a handful of practical suggestions of the approach that we have been describing. As we stated before, literary texts, musical pieces, paintings, sculptures and art photos may (and should) be explored at different moments of English classes and may serve various purposes. Carefully selected poems and excerpts from fiction and drama could be more often used in reading-comprehension activities, for they explore a wider range of language usages and meanings. Musical pieces could be used in lead-in activities in order to introduce the theme of the learning sequence or as a prompt to a writing activity. Finally, reproductions of paintings, of sculptures and photos may play a central role in a pre-reading activity, in the less-controlled practice of a grammar structure, in a problem-solving activity, or as a prompt to write a narrative or a descriptive text.
Let us be more specific about our suggestions. At the beginning of a class, as a lead-in or as a pre-reading activity, a painting may be used to introduce the theme (or topic area) of the learning sequence as well as some of the vocabulary related to it. Picasso's Guernica or Goya's The Shootings of the Third of May, 1808 (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/goya/goya.shootings-3-5-1808.jpg) are appealing starting points to introduce vocabulary related to war and to reflect on the suffering caused by war. Likewise, Van Gogh's The Potato-Eaters (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/potato-eater.jpg) provides a good trigger for a brainstorm activity about poverty and its causes. Finally, Henri Rousseau's paintings, The Dream (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/rousseau.rousseau.dream.jpgh), portraying places with lavish, colourful vegetation, together with Adrian Henri's short poem "Salad Poem (about H. Rousseau's Le Douanier)", might lead to an interesting class discussion about the environmental problems of the present days.

Art can also be used at the stage when students are called upon to practise language structures which they learnt before. There is a wide range of activities that the teacher may implement, from a controlled practice to a less-controlled practice or even to paragraph writing (in which a student would have to use, say, the first type of conditional sentences). In the case of a controlled practice, the description and the interpretation of a photo of Nam June Paik's Buddha TV (http://www.zakros.com/mica/emacf00/paik/sld011.htm) may provide a context to a fill-in-the-blanks activity of a text (where the prepositions are missing) about the impact of the media in contemporary life. On the other hand, if the theme of the learning sequence is related to technological progress, a less-controlled practice activity may consist of asking pre-intermediate students to write three sentences in the simple past, speculating about what happened to the man (or anthropomorphic creature) depicted in Jacob Epstein's sculpture, The Rock Drill (http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/WorkImage?id=4122&sid). Finally, an interesting starting point for writing a paragraph (or even a short narrative) is provided by René Magritte's The Murderer Threatened; if the idea is to practise a language structure - the second type of conditional sentences could be used to speculate about the plot of story narrated in this painting -, the students would be told that they are expected to use that language structure in their texts.

And, since the methodology followed here is the task-based learning, the task of a learning sequence could be based on or introduced by a work of art. Students may imagine (and write a text about) the daily routine of the strange creature depicted in Salvador Dalí's painting, Sleep (http://www.autoniodyaz.com/thegallery/DALI.HTM). Or they may write a letter to UNICEF calling the attention of this organisation to the existence of miserable living conditions in certain countries; Ben Shahn's painting Hunger depicts a hungry child, whose living conditions might be described in that letter. A task destined to lower EFL levels may consist of writing a dialogue between the child of Ben Shahn's painting and the person whom he is looking at. Still, one important idea that teachers should bear in mind is that works of art are a starting point to practise English as well as a didactic element that asks for an oral (or a written) response from the students, who may describe it, speculate about it, analyse it, interpret it or comment on it.

And, if you think that classical music cannot be used as a didactic material that they may explore in classes, think of the possible activities that may be implemented with Sergei Prokofiev's "musical story", Peter and the Wolf: listening comprehension, problem-solving activity, debate (about the generation gap), writing activity, etc. Classical music can also be used as a means to introduce vocabulary or the theme of a learning sequence. For example, a sequence of different excerpts of classical music may lead students to establishment associations with types of films or with literary genres: Orff's Carmina Burana for medieval narratives, Strauss's Thus Spake Zarathustra for science-fiction, a waltz for love stories, etc.

We know that not all the works of art referred to in this article are easy to find in books of art, but they are all available on the Internet. It is neither difficult nor illegal to print a good reproduction of the paintings, photos and sculptures mentioned above on a transparency in order to show it by means of an overhead projector or to record the image in disk and use a data show (connected to a portable computer) to exhibit it.

IV. Conclusion

Teachers unanimously believe that schools should play a more active role in the process of building up the personality of young people and promoting human values among them. The syllabi even stress that the students' critical consciousness and sense of citizenship should be promoted in EFL classes. However, the majority of textbooks and materials used in these classes and the contents explored there do not lead us successfully to the intended results.

In this article we suggested a didactic approach that hinges on the use of art and literature in order to achieve the pedagogical aims defined in the EFL syllabi of the Portuguese school system. Experience tells us that this approach may give satisfactory results to the challenges mentioned in the previous paragraph and even to the problem of lack of motivation. We now hope that the suggestions and ideas presented here will be as challenging to our colleagues as they have been to our students.

V. Bibliography

Cranmer, David (1995), "O Ensino do Inglês através da Música e da Pintura", in Pires, Laura Bettencourt (ed.), Novas Metodologias no Ensino do Inglês, Lisboa, Universidade Aberta, pp. 69-86.
Collie, Joanne and Ladousse, Gillian P. (1991) Paths into Poetry, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Freire, Paulo (1982), Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.
Guilherme, Manuela (2001), "The Critical Study of a Foreign Culture and Citizenship Education", in Anglo-Saxónica, Lisboa, Colibri, pp. 265-274.
Hones, Donald F. (1999), "U.S. Justice? Critical Pedagogy and the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal", Tesol Journal, Winter, pp. 27-33.
Legutke, M. and Thomas, H. (1991), Process and Experience in the Language Classroom, Essex, Longman.
McRae, John and Pantaleoni, Luisa (1992), Chapter and Verse. An Interactive Approach to Literature, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Nunan, David (1989), Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Paula, Luís P., Sousa, Rui and Lourinho, Sérgio (1995), Front Door 7, Lisboa, Edições Rumo.
Pennycock, Alastair (1999), "Introduction: Critical Approaches to TESOL", TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 3, Autumn, pp, 329-348.
Programa de Inglês [Syllabus of English Language] (1997), Lisboa, Ministério da Educação.
Skehan, P. (1996), "A Framework for the Implementation of Task-based Instruction", Applied Linguistics, No. 17, pp. 38-62.


Theme: Parent-child relationship
Grade: 9th or 10th grade (ages 15 to 16): intermediate level
Number of classes: four fifty-minute classes
.to promote the practice and the development of the students' linguistic skills (speaking, listening, writing and reading);
.to teach the form, use and meaning of one of the following grammar items: the present perfect tense, prepositions, the imperative, word-formation or phrasal verbs (see Activity 7);
.to review the structure of the informal letter;
.to promote the students' interest for art in its different forms of expression (literature, painting, sculpture, photography, etc.);
.to develop the students' critical awareness about issues related to the contemporary world;
.to expand the students' knowledge of the culture of the English-speaking world, in this case, the Liverpool poets.



Activity 1. Warm up (10 minutes)

1. The teacher asks several students if they think their parents impose a strong discipline at home and listens to their answers.

2. The students are given a questionnaire (Handout 1) and are asked to answer it.


The following list contains some of the things that young people enjoy doing. Tick those that your parents do not allow you to do:

• Eating hamburgers every day
• Dating someone
• Smoking
• Drinking alcohol
• Spending all your money on clothes
• Coming back home at 5 o'clock in the morning
• Going out in the evening before an exam
• Spending your holidays with friends
• Doing bungee jumping
• Spending the whole evening on the phone

3. The students are asked to state the things that they are not allowed to do.
Afterwards, the teacher asks the students to provide the motives and reasons why their parents impose rules and discipline to their day-to-day lives.

Activity 2. Analysing and interpreting a work of art (35 minutes)

1. Using an overhead projector, the teacher shows a photo of Louise Bourgeois' sculpture Maman, which was exhibited at the Tate Modern. This thirty-feet high sculpture represents a pregnant spider (a black widow). Photos of this work of art can be found at:

http://www.visuelimage.com/ch/bourgeois/pix/big/maman/htm or

2. The teacher asks the students to describe (just describe) the sculpture, calling their attention to features such as colour, size, shape, etc.

3. The students gather in pairs to analyse the sculpture and to interpret the symbolic meaning of certain features of the spider. The instructions are in Handout 2:


Bearing in mind that this spider represents a mother, answer the following questions in order to explain the symbolic meaning of some of the traits of this creature:

1. Why is this spider so big?
2. Why are the spider legs so long and thin (taking into account that the sculpture is very large and heavy)?
3. What does the shape of the spider remind you of?
4. Why is this spider (i.e., mother) black?
5. Spiders make webs. What does this omitted element (the web) represent?
6. Why are mothers compared to spiders?
7. Why is the title of the sculpture Maman (and not Mother nor Mère)?

4. After finishing this activity, the students state their answers and debate some of the conclusions that they have arrived at. They are then encouraged to provide an overall interpretation of the sculpture.

Activity 3. Systematising conclusions (5 minutes)

1. The teacher draws a simple two-column table on the blackboard; one of the columns bears the heading "protection" and the other "imprisonment".

2. Taking into account what was said before about Louise Bourgeois' sculpture, the teacher elicits from the students the ideas, words or phrases that describe different aspects of the parent-child relationship (for instance, love, authority, power, rules). The words and expressions are registered on the correspondent column of the table.


Activity 4. Reading-Comprehension (15 minutes)

1. Pre-reading activity: The teacher starts the lesson eliciting from the students the theme of the learning sequence and some of the words and phrases that were used to describe different aspects of the parent-child relationship.
After that, the teacher writes the first and the second lines of Brian Patten's poem "Little Johnny's Final Letter" on the blackboard:

I won't be home this evening, so

The students are called upon to speculate about the information contained in these two lines by answering the teacher's questions:

a) What sort of text is this?
b) Who utters these words?
c) Why won't the "son" come back home that evening?
d) What is going to happen?
e) Why does the "son" write this letter?

2. The students are given a handout with Brian Patten's poem "Little Johnny's Final Letter" (Handout 3). The teacher reads the poem aloud and, afterwards, the latter is read aloud by one of the students. The teacher explains the meaning of the words the students do not know.


Little Johnny's Final Letter

I won't be home this evening, so
don't worry; don't hurry to report me missing.
Don't drain the canals to find me,
I've decided to stay alive, don't
search the woods, I'm not hiding,
simply gone to get myself classified.
Don't leave my shreddies out,
I've done with security.
Don't circulate my photograph to society
I've disguised myself as a man
and I am giving priority to obscurity.
It suits me fine;
I've taken off my short trousers
and put on long ones, and
now am going out into the city, so
don't worry; don't hurry to report me missing.

I've rented a room without curtains
and sit behind the windows growing cold,
heard your plea on the radio this morning,
you sounded sad and strangely old...

Brian Patten

Brian Patten, Little Johnny's Confession, London,
George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1967.

3. The teacher conducts a comprehension activity on the poem, asking the students the following questions:

. Who is the person speaking in the poem?
. What has he done?
. Why has he done that?
. How has his mother reacted?
. How does he feel now?

Activity 5. Interview (35 minutes)

1. Preparing an interview: group work. The students get together in five groups. Each group is given one of the following characters: Johnny, his mother, his father, his sister, his brother, a neighbour. The students prepare a TV interview in which a reporter will ask the character in question to describe Johnny's relationship with the other members of the family and to give his/her own view about what has happened.

2. Enacting the interview: role play. Each group chooses one student to play the role of reporter and another to play the character assigned to the group. These pairs will enact the dialogues in front of the class.

3. Withdrawing conclusions: class discussion. The students are encouraged to comment on the positions of the characters involved and to suggest solutions for the problem or for problems like this one.

The teacher reminds the students that the poem "Little Johnny's Final Letter" was written by Brian Patten and informs them that the latter is one of the "Liverpool Poets".
The students are asked to find information about the "Liverpool Poets" (in encyclopaedias or on the internet) and to bring poems written by them that allude to the parent-child relationship. This homework will be corrected only in the last lesson of the unit so that the students have more time to prepare it.


Activity 6. Revision of the structure of the informal letter (15 minutes)
1. The teacher elicits from the students the main facts and ideas of Brian Patten's poem "Little Johnny's Final Letter", which they read the previous lesson. Afterwards, the teacher reads the poem once again.

2. The teacher draws the model of the informal letter on the blackboard, eliciting from the students the elements that it comprises: date, address, name of the addresser, etc.

3. The students are given handout 4 with the elements of an imaginary informal letter that Johnny wrote to his mother. They should dispose these elements in the correct places. The correction is done on a transparency.


Imagine Johnny's letter to his mother. Put the following elements in the right places:


22 Wood Road
London WC3 5YA

Dear Mother,


Tuesday, 14th June 2001

Activity 7. Grammar practice (35 minutes)

In the remaining time, the teacher introduces a grammar structure, taking examples from the poem. The students analyse these examples and are asked to systematise the rule or the information of that grammar item. Then, the teacher provides the students with a practice exercise, which they can do individually or in pairs. The exercise is corrected afterwards. (The grammar structure should be chosen according to the level of the students.)

Suggested grammar structure: - The Present Perfect Tense
- Imperative
- Phrasal verbs
- Prepositions


Activity 8. Homework correction (15 minutes)

The students share the information they have collected about the "Liverpool Poets" and read poems by some of these poets. The teacher may collect all the poems and ask a group of students to prepare a poster into which the poems will be glued. The poster will then be hanged on the classroom wall.

Activity 9. Task: writing activity (35 minutes)

The teacher tells the students that they are going to write a text, in which they are expected to use the grammar structure learnt the previous class (activity 7). The text they will write must follow one of the text models that were present in this learning sequence: the letter and the interview (the dialogue). The students may choose to do one of the following tasks:

1. Johnny's mother writes him a letter.
2. A fourteen-year-old spider writes a letter to a friend talking about her problems with her mother.
3. A young spider talks to her aunt about the strong discipline the parents impose at home (a dialogue written in pairs).



Alexandre Dias Pinto has an M.A. from the University of Lisbon on Comparative Literature and is now preparing his Ph.D. dissertation. Until last year he was a teacher trainer of EFL at the University of the Algarve, where he also taught English and English Literature. He is now a researcher at the Centre for Comparative Studies of the University of Lisbon. He has published a few articles mainly on English Literature and on Comparative Literature and has given seminars of Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Alex can be contacted at: diaspinto@hotmail.com

Carlota Dias Pinto has been teaching English and German at Portuguese secondary schools since 1995. She has also taught English at a polytechnic in Lisbon and has collaborated with the teacher-training programme of the University of Lisbon. In 2002 she was awarded an M.A. from the University of Lisbon with a dissertation on the work of the Austrian novelist Thomas Bernhard and the tradition of the Buildungsroman.

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