Book Reviews

from Hands-on English
This review appeared in the May/June 2002 issue.
by Anna Silliman

Pearls of Wisdom
by Raouf Mama and Mary Romney
© 2001 Pro Lingua Associates
Price: $12.50
ISBN: 0-86647-134-0

 Stories are certainly the most interesting teaching material, and you can never have too many of them at your disposal. For intermediate through advanced level students, this collection, along with the workbook materials and cassettes, makes a beautiful addition to your story repertoire.

Hands-on English has mentioned other folktales books in previous issues. What sets this one apart? The stories are powerful. Like Aesop's fables, they teach a lesson, but more profound and complex ones than in other tales.The stories are not remotely childlike; they raise questions as much as they answer them. In a nutshell, they provide food for thought and learning.

The excellent workbook expands vocabulary learning but more importantly draws out discussion of the meaning of the story. Students explore the moral of the story, discuss the themes found there (trust, betrayal, deception) and discuss relevant proverbs ("Do unto others..." . A set of interesting questions encourages students to relate the themes of the story to their personal experience ("Have you ever been robbed or deceived by someone?"), and to the broader contexts of groups and cultures ("Do you know of long-time conflicts between groups?"). As a final step, students discuss symbols and metaphors related to the story.

The wisdom of the stories will be of universal interest and will provide a chance for people of all cutlers to share ideas. At the same time, it is wonderful that they bring a flavor of the African Diaspora to us and to our students.

Usually the cassette tape is the part you can do without if you are trying to save money, but in this case, we highly recommend the tapes. The beautiful and dramatic recording of the tales will add a new dimension to your lessons.

 



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