The weekly column
Article 62, June 2001
A TALE WITH A STING IN THE TAIL!
By Michael Berman
Before the start of the lesson you might like to write the list of suggested morals up on the board or to copy them on to an OHT.
1. Ask the learners to listen to the story, then decide what the moral is. And if they don't like the suggestions, they can find a moral of their own!
2. Some people seem to devote most of their energy to making excuses for not acting. Invite the learners to think of something they currently feel they need to do in their lives and then ask them what excuses they make use of to avoid acting? The consequences of such behaviour can be disastrous and thats what the tale that follows is all about.
3. As a while-listening activity, ask the learners to stop you / the cassette as soon as they have worked out what kind of creatures George and Harriette are.
4. As a post-listening activity, you might like to set up role-plays with the participants working in pairs. While the activity is taking place, circulate to make a note of the effective language being used as well as any errors that crop up. These can then be dealt with at the end of the session.
5. To conclude the session, you might like to put the following questions to the class as a whole:
I KNOW BUT
"Only five more collecting days to go before winter hibernation," Harriette said. She nudged George with her elbow in an attempt to rouse him from his sleep.
"I know but its so warm and cosy here in this tree trunk that I think Ill just take it easy today," he replied. Then he rolled over and drifted off again. In fact, he slept right through until the following morning.
"Just four days left now," Harriette reminded George the next day when he woke up.
"I know but weve still got food left. I wish you wouldnt worry so much. I promise Ill go collecting tomorrow." George covered himself with his blanket of twigs and leaves and returned to his nut-filled dreams once more. And another day was lost.
"Theres only three days to go now and you havent even started collecting." Harriette was beginning to get anxious. "Remember the little ones. Weve got three new mouths to feed now."
"I know but the owner of the house is sure to leave us a pile of nuts on the garden wall - he always does." George made himself comfortable and went back to sleep again. Harriette spent the day trying to keep herself busy and so another day passed.
"Two days left. The owner of the house has left us nothing this year. I went outside earlier on to check. I think hes gone away on holiday. I peeped through the bedroom window yesterday and I saw him packing his suitcase. Hes probably gone to spend Christmas with his mother this year. Youve got to do something George." Harriette was getting desperate.
"I know but its freezing cold outside and raining so Ill wait until tomorrow when the weather clears up. Come snuggle up beside me and that way well both be able to keep warm. George slept but Harriette couldnt because she knew of the danger they faced. And so another day came and went.
"George youve really got to do something today. Its your very last chance." Harriette tried once again to stir her man into action.
"I know but weve still got a few nuts left from last year. And with a bit of luck they should last us. After all, once were asleep we wont need anything. Trust me. I know what Im doing."
"I know but " Harriette started but never finished her sentence. She realised she was beginning to sound just like George.
And so the winter hibernation began with George and Harriettes storehouse empty despite the fact that they had three new mouths to feed.
When Spring came round once more, George and Harriette woke from their winter sleep but the three babies didnt. The poor little souls had starved to death.
"This is all your fault George," said Harriette. "I kept telling you to prepare for the winter but you did nothing. If youd spent all the energy you put into inventing excuses on gathering nuts, our babies would still be alive."
"I know but not to worry. Life will be easier with three fewer mouths to feed and we can always try again for babies. In fact, we could start right now." But Harriette wasnt interested. And from that day on they both slept in separate beds.
George and Harriette never did have any more children and George kept saying "I know but " until his dying day.
I KNOW BUT
Listen to the story, then decide what the moral is. And if you don't like the suggestions, find a moral of you own!
A ROLE PLAY