Let’s Talk About Accents: Sense 8 Series Lesson Plan by Andrea Grassi

So I got back from the ELTons, where my course “The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English as a Lingua Franca” was nominated for innovation in teacher resources. While I didn’t get to win (congrats to the team behind Teaching On-line, who won the award), it was amazing to have been nominated, especially considering the fact that many of the submissions were team efforts at times with the backing of a big organisation such as Cambridge Assessment, BBC or Bell, while my course has been a one-person effort from start to finish.

And while it would have been great to have won, the real and far more important reward for me is to see English teachers benefiting from the course and submitting original lesson plans in which they apply ELF teaching principles we discuss on the course. That’s why today I wanted to share with you just such a lesson plan from Andrea Grassi, who is an English teacher in Argentina.

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Lead-In:

Show students photos from the Netflix series Sense 8 and ask them to discuss in pairs:

  • Which series does it come from? What do you know about it?
  • If you haven’t seen it, what do you think it’s about based on the pictures?
  • What did you think of it? If you haven’t seen it, do you think it might appeal to you based on the pictures? Why (not)?

Listening:

You can either show students the whole video (aprox 5 minutes without the intro and outro) or shorter extracts.

Tell them they’ll be watching an interview with Sense 8 actors Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Naveen Andrews:

Set a gist listening task. For example, if you decide to go with the whole video, you could ask students to write down: What’s the most interesting thing for you that each of the actors shares about making Sense 8?

Discussion:

Students further discuss the question above and share what they’ve learned about the show.

Discussion: Accent and Identity

Ask students to discuss the following questions:

  1. How easy or difficult was each of the actors to understand? What about the interviewer?
  2. What accent does each of the speakers have? How would you describe it?
  3. Would Miguel Ángel Silvestre sound better if he did not have a Spanish accent? Why (not)?
  4. How do you feel about your own accent? To what extent is it important for you to sound like a ‘native speaker’?

Follow-up:

Ask students to at home watch clips of at least three different ‘non-native speakers’ they know from TV, films, etc. They should complete the following table:

Speaker’s Name, Nationality and Profession

Why did you choose them?

What did you learn from the video?

What did you think about the speaker’s pronunciation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students report on their findings next class or whenever you feel is appropriate. You could also get them to watch a speaker from a different country each week and start off classes with a 5-minute warm-up discussion of student’s notes.

Word of caution: be careful that students do not start stereotyping the accents. The idea here is to raise students’ awareness of the diversity of Englishes. It’s important to highlight that accents are NOT better or worse, but simply different.

About

Andrea Grassi is a Spanish English Teacher, who has worked since 1986. Ontological Coach from Axon Training, specialist in neurolinguistic programming and emotional intelligence. Currently in the MBCT-L Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy for life course at Foro. She lives in Coghlan, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She developed this lesson plan while enrolled on Marek Kiczkowiak’s on-line course “The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English as a Lingua Franca”.

Prefer a pdf?

Save yourself prep time. Get the lesson plan as a pdf, so you can print it and use in your next class.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Accents: Sense 8 Series Lesson Plan by Andrea Grassi”

  1. Hector Sebastian Alvarez

    Proud to see one of my compatriotes sharing an ELF-oriented lesson plan 🙂

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