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Valentine's Day


See the text at the end on
the plan

Preliminary information

Level: Upper intermediate

Time: Depends what you do with it all

Timetable fit: Valentine's Day is round the corner & a good enough reason for a lesson on the theme of romance. See the Feb 2000 Newsletter for other 'romance' activities.

To give reading practice - the sub-skills you deal with will depend on how you tackle the text
To review specific language areas - see below for suggested areas.
To give freer speaking practice - during the speaking stages on the reading procedure outlined below & during one of the follow-up activities


1. Lead in - quotes about romance 5-10 minutes

1. Elicit 14th February & Valentine's Day & any information about the tradition & what they think about celebrating VDay.

2. On an OHT or handout the quotes about romance - in pairs/small groups stds read them & discuss which refer specifically to 'romance' & which have wider meanings, they like/don't like etc. There are quite a few below so only choose a few - or make it into a longer more in-depth activity.

Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me.
Sarah Bernhardt

Hopeless romantics are only hopeless in the eyes of those who don't believe in romance.
Jean Zheng

The only true gift is a portion of yourself
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.
George Sand

How vast a memory has love!
Alexander Pope

I like not only to be loved, but to be told I am loved.
George Eliot

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint Exupery

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived, are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.
Henry Drummond

A kiss is a lovely trick, designed by nature, to stop words when speech becomes superfluous.
Ingrid Bergmen

Love can hope where reason would despair
Lord Lyttleton

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit
Peter Ustinov

Love can find a way
Ancient Proverb

When love and skill work together expect a miracle
John Ruskin

3. Feedback - class discussion.

2. Reading - A Love Story

1. Instructions for the reading - 'going to read the text bit by bit & stds have to predict what will happen next.'
Emphasise that they have to get the general idea & not to get bogged down in vocabulary - we'll look at that later. You could draw their attention to the language of deduction before beginning.

2. Part 1 - stds read & then compare ideas about what happened & what might happen - in pairs.

3. Feedback - as a class discuss what happened & what might happen.

4. Continue in the same way with parts 2 - 8, inclusive.

5. Handout that last section 'The woman's face broadened....response to the unattractive.' - stds read.

6. Class discussion on the ending & story in general & the last sentence in particular - the 'response' to the text - an important stage..

(An alternative to this could be to hand all of the paragraphs jumbled up & the stds put them in order - but not the last part of the story which they can write/predict before seeing it. Then focus on the links that helped them to decide on the correct order)

3. Language focus - here is a selection of areas you could focus on depending on the needs of your stds. I should only look at a couple of them.
.Collect the bits of the story & give a full copy to all of the students.

Focus on the language of physical descriptions:
Focus the stds on the descriptions of the two women - paragraphs 5 & 6/7 - & ask them, in pairs, to extract vocabulary & put them into two columns: clothes & physical characteristics. You could give out dictionaries for them to use. Clarify problems in the feedback.
If you have some pictures of people who are similar looking to the two women in the story you could ask the stds to discuss the differences between the visuals & the written descriptions.

Focus on vocab:
Among the vocab there are a lot of interesting verbs in the text. Vocab you could look at: straightened, to be intrigued, notes pencilled in the margin, a thoughtful soul, an insightful mind, to locate, to grow to know, a seed falling on a fertile heart, a romance was budding, to schedule a meeting, lapel, a provocative smile, deep longing, a true spirit, to square ones shoulders, to salute, to be choked by the bitterness of disappointment, wisdom ....
I wouldn't deal with all of these - consider the level & needs of the group & try to link the vocabulary items into a lexical set. You may want to pre-teach some of these items before the reading if you consider them crucial to comprehension.

Focus on cohesive devices:
Choose some reference words - pronouns & stds work out whether they refer forwards or backwards & what it is they actually refer to.
You could look at why the paragraphs are in the order they are - what links each to the next. Also the overall organisation of the text e.g. starting at the station & then telling how he arrived there etc.

Focus on past tenses:
Ask the stds to underline examples of the past simple, the past continuous & the past perfect. Feedback on the differences in form & use, followed by a short written exercise to consolidate them.

Focus on the second conditional:
Focus the stds on 'if he really cared, it wouldn't matter...' & elicit the structure - put the sentence on the board & analyse the clauses. Follow up with a short written exercise to consolidate.

Focus on the third conditional: 'If he had/hadn't done X, he would/wouldn't have done Y' Elicit the facts of the story & put them in chronological order on the board. From these elicit, highlight & drill some third conditional sentences. e.g. If he hadn't been sent overseas, he would've met her earlier. If he had tried to go with Miss Maynell in the station, he would have never seen her again. The stds could write out three sentences about the story of their own.

Focus on reported speech: Stds write out the original dialogue between the two women from the information in paragraph 9.

4. Follow up activities:

Think of a title for the story. Re-tell love stories they had heard of/read.

Devise different endings - stds write alternative endings to the story.

Using the same characters, write a different story.

Roleplay/write the conversation in the restaurant when they meet for the first time.

Letter writing - John doesn't go up to the older woman & writes her a letter instead explaining himself.

See the Feb 2000 Newsletter for more on the theme of 'romance'.

   Reading Text - A Love Story 


John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.

In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.

During the next year and one-month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. 'You'll recognize me,' she wrote, 'by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel.' So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.

I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. 'Going my way, sailor?' she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl.

A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.

And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. 'I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?'

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. 'I don't know what this is about, son,' she answered, 'but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!'

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

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