«Objectives 1. To trigger students’ motivation for language learning with the theme—love relationship. 2. To guide students to read English novel ...»
Love Relationship in Wuthering Heights
This teaching is to propose novel teaching in our senior high schools. The students
may be the second or third graders. By studying the love relationship in the novel
Wuthering Heights, our students earn the improvement in the target language,
personal growth, and cultural understanding. This teaching is designed to be
task-oriented, accomplished with worksheets. The worksheets guide the students to
think, often for the characters, and then give their output, mostly through writing, after their reading work. That is, this task-oriented novel teaching aims to enhance students’ language ability with the emphasis on the training of thinking and writing.
1. To trigger students’ motivation for language learning with the theme—love relationship.
2. To guide students to read English novel with interesting and practical tasks.
3. To train students’ thinking ability and writing ability.
Grade level Second or third graders in the senior high school Time required Seven class meetings Materials Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights Teaching Procedure The teaching of Wuthering Heights consists of seven class meetings with the emphasis on the theme—love relationship. Four extracts are adopted from the novel.
Most of the instruction is given in English; students’ response in English is encouraged. Chinese is used when there is the need for explicit explanation for the complicated situation or for grammar translation.
The First Class Meeting A. Warm up.
In the beginning of this meeting, the teacher lead the students to recall the experience of reading novels and then to investigate their experience of reading 1 English novels. This is followed by the introduction of the novel Wuthering Heights.
After a brief introduction of the author and the love stories is given, it is the moment for both the students and the teacher to start the way to Wuthering Heights.
B. Guiding questions.
In the beginning, several questions are given by the teacher to induce the students to think about what love relationships may be like. Some of them are as follows. “When can we say someone is in love? Under what condition?”, “What may be the features of being in love?”, “What kind of feelings or emotions will the lovers have? Happiness? Frustration? Excitement? Or Anger? Is hate included?” The students freely express in class any of their ideas about love, lovers, and love relationships. This activity works to enhance the reading motivation of the students and, more importantly, to guide them by the way to the main theme of Wuthering Heights.
C. Summary of the beginning chapters with the emphasis on the love relationship and the introduction of the characters as well.
Then, the teacher summarizes the plot of the beginning eight chapters since the first extract was quoted from Chapter 9. In the summary of the plot, the character’s names are put on the blackboard at the time the characters are mentioned. The students are invited to describe or predict the personalities of the characters after the summary, such as Old Earnshaw, Heathcliff, Catherine, Hindley and Nelly. Old Earnshaw is discussed through his treating Heathcliff and his own children, Hindley and Catherine. Next comes one emphasis-- Catherine’s love relationship toward Heathcliff. Two points are included to support this emphasis: one was Catherine’s being together with Heathcliff all the time, no matter in the house or at the moors; the other was her revolt with Heathcliff against Hindley. These two points may help to create the space for the discussion over Catherine’s love relationship toward Heathcliff. Also, Hindley’s hatred for Heathcliff and its influence on Heathcliff could be still another point for discussion, which allows the students to have a deeper understanding of what kind of person Heathcliff is. Because of the time limit, the discussion on the narrators is not allowed to take its place in the first meeting. Only the main characters hit the chance of being the core figure in the discussion. Most of the summary is given in English, with some Chinese meanings offered for the new vocabulary to clean out any misunderstanding in the students’ minds. During this thirty minutes, the teacher has been more like telling a story than teaching English, which helps to excite the students’ intellectual curiosity in the novel Wuthering Heights.
In the last two minutes, the teacher distributes the extracts (See Appendix A) and 2 the handouts on vocabulary and phrases (See Appendix B), assigning the students to preview Extract 1, which is going to be discussed and instructed in the second class meeting. What also matters is that the students are hinted that they will be the one to tell the story.
The Second Class Meeting A. Warm-up discussion.
As is the custom, the teacher greets the students and asks whether there is any question or even any problem for the assigned preview. The discussion on what Catherine’s love relationship toward Heathcliff functions as the warm-up activity. The points of view from the students are welcomed while their predictions for the future development of the plot can not be proved correct or wrong by immediately the teacher. The students are encouraged to read the novel by themselves and to find what they have wanted to know by themselves. The teacher is there to offer guidance on the way.
B. Story telling time.
The class is then divided into six groups, each consisting of six persons or so.
The six groups work in turn to recite the lines and tell the whole class the main plot of its reciting section. If any other group raises a question for the story, the reciting group is responsible for the explanation. The teacher is there to offer help when the explanation is not sufficient or not correct. During this reading task, the full attention of the students is laid on the meanings of the lines in Extract 1. After the last group finishes its part, the teacher checks if there is still some more which needs clarification. If no, Worksheet 1 (See Appendix C) is distributed to the groups, each member in the group getting one sheet of it.
C. Catherine’s Depressed The task based on Worksheet 1 is named Catherine’s Depressed, 1 implying that Catherine is in depression. With the help of the teacher’s summary, the students have known something about Catherine’s personality, way of thinking, and her strong love for Heathcliff. Based on the text in Extract 1, the students are able to realize the 1 This is a modified version of Tom's depressed, suggested by Wessels (1987). This activity will be held after students have finished reading as least Extract 1 of the story. That is to say, they have already known something about Catherine’s personality, way of thinking, and strong love for Heathcliff.
The steps are as follows. One student is chosen to play the part of Catherine, sitting in the center of the class, looking as depressed as possible. In groups, students decide on a list of things that would cheer her up and arrange the list “in the order of merit” (Wessels, 1987, p. 47). Each group tries to figure out all the advantages of accepting their suggestions. Then the student reads out the list and suggestions of each group and finally makes up her mind to pick one list. The group whose list is picked by her is the winner. To prepare for this task, students in groups need to review Extract 1, which they have already read, in order to get familiar with Catherine as much as they can. With time limitation, this task makes students write with imagination and creativity. Besides, this task is more like a game, which motivates students to participate willingly and actively.
3 dilemma more in which Catherine is stuck-- to marry Edgar or not to marry Edgar.
One student is chosen to play the part of Catherine, sitting in the center of the class, looking depressed. Each group has the right to pick one of the two sides, to marry Edgar or not to. In groups, students decide on a list of things that would cheer her up and arrange the list “in the order of merit” (Wessels, 1987, p. 47). Each group tries to figure out all the advantages if Catherine determines to accept their suggestions. Then the one playing the part of Catherine reads out the list and suggestions of each group and finally makes up her mind to pick one list. The group whose list is picked by her is the winner. This task makes the students think and write with imagination and creativity. Through studying and responding in English, the students practice the four skills of language. In addition, this task, being more like a game, motivates the students to participate willingly and actively.
As is the day before, to preview Extract 2 is what the students have to do as the assignment. What is more, the students are required to keep a diary, 2 pretending one of the main characters and putting down what has happened to the character during that day. The teacher shows in class the ways of paraphrasing and summarizing the plots and events in the novel. In order to understand the personalities of the characters and the love story of them, the students are encouraged to do more reading and to get more familiar with the text. This task sharpens both their reading and writing skills at the same time. This worksheet was named Diary (See Appendix D). 3 The Third Class Meeting A. Warm up.
The teacher guides the students to review the part of Catherine’s return to her room. The heavy rain soaks Catherine’s ghost at midnight while trying to enter her bedroom, begging Lockwood to let her in. It is the same heavy rain that Heathcliff welcomes, crying loud to invite his love to come back, to meet him after her being rejected by Lockwood to enter the house. Students imagine living in the same circumstance, in the old dark house, in the heavy-loaded sad desperation. This association work is functioning as the warm-up activity for this meeting.
2 Collie and Slater (1987) regarded a diary as a creative writing in which students worked on paraphrase and summary. See Collie, J. & Slater, S. (1987). Literature in the language classroom.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
3 Collie and Slater (1987) proposed that “a diary is a creative writing activity that can be used systematically as reading progresses, thus serving as a sort of revision summary” (p. 126). With keeping a diary for their favorite characters, students paraphrase and summarize the plots and events. In doing so, they are allowed to know the personalities of the characters more precisely and deeply by practicing their reading skills while their keeping writing diaries enables them to sharpen their writing skills.
4 B. Comment on the diary writing.
Next, the model diaries chosen by the teacher are read out loud in class to stand the examples of writing a diary for the characters as well as to function as review. By showing the way how to do, the teacher teach the students to write by their own. Right after the presentation, time is given to the groups to read out everyone’s diary and to compare others’ diaries with theirs. During their sharing, each learns the ways of expressing the feelings, and the thoughts. Various wording, patterns, and expressions allow them to think more about their own selection of words and many other language usages. It is a good chance for them to think much about their own writing. After all, language learning is considered the most significant in the teaching. At the same time, it is also a chance for them to realize that there will always be different thinking ways or personal reflections. In other words, personal growth and cultural understanding can also get their development. The comparison in peers will indeed be a strong force to urge students to create better works, which must result from reading much.
C. Extract 2 & Imagining Dialogues-- to raise for Heathcliff one question which might have haunted and tortured his mind for some time.
Then still in groups, Extract 2 started its way. The teaching of Extract 2 goes part by part. The broad understanding of each part depends mainly on students’ own study work. The students work in groups, trying to answer the questions raised by the teacher. “Who are the protagonists?” “What are they doing?” “What is going to happen?” Each group writes down two possible explanations based on the text. The teacher is responsible for the final declaration of the correct answers. 4 If needed, some clear explanation or explicit grammar translation will be added to the teaching. While teaching part B, Brontë’s choice of the verbs will be one point worthy of emphasis. The language usages are clearly and explicitly listed and explained. Some time is left for exercises of making sentences. After the teacher finishes the teaching, one worksheet—Worksheet 2, Imagining Dialogues 5 (See Appendix E)—is distributed to the students. For each part of Extract 2, each group has to raise for Heathcliff one question which might have haunted and tortured his mind for some time, and then exchanges the sheet with the next group who also raises certain questions for each part. Both groups consider Heathcliff’s questions and try to figure out the answers to them, standing certainly at Catherine’s side. This task has to 4 Modified from an activity proposed by Duff and Maley (1990), named Summaries.
5 The basic idea of this task is to ask students to “imagine the conversation that might replace the letter” (Hedge, 1998, p. 36). In other words, the letter will be taken place by a dialogue created by the students. In this way, students may need to think for Heathcliff, who writes the letter, and imagine what kind of questions he might ask. Students are also asked to imagine the conversation between the two characters, Heathcliff and Catherine. Ask them to work in pairs and write out the conversation and then allow them to compare with other pairs and then do some revision if they want to. This activity improves students' ability of analyzing the story plot for the main points, inferring the missing gap with logic and reason, and creating sentences on their own based on their analysis as well as inference.