Characters in Search of Authors
by Patrick R. Moran, Ph.D.
50 Photocopyable Faces
50 Characters Looking for Authors
50 Detachable Pages
5 Sets of 10 different people
What do you do with them?
These faces invite invention. It's up to you and your students, but
Pat Moran (creator of Lexicarry) provides plenty of suggestions in the
book. He gives detailed notes on creating and building characters inspired
by these faces. Then he provides ideas for role plays, improvised dramas,
storytelling and short stories, games and other interactive activities,
and explorations of specific cultures and cultural identity.
Where do these people come from? Pat leaves that to
A beginning learner says, "This is Manuel. He is
from Colombia. He is 18. Now he is studying economics. He likes music.
His instrument is the cuatro. He looks like my brother."
An intermediate learner assumes the character suggested
by the face saying, "My name is Jean, and I live in Lyons, France.
Although my parents want me to become an engineer, my real passion is
digital art. I want to make mixed media films about places around the
world, lovely, magical places. Yesterday I met the most beautiful girl.
Her name is Dalia, and she is a dancer. Perhaps tomorrow..."
This book looks simple at first, but it leads to ...
Using the faces as inspiration, learners create imaginary biographies
and breathe life into the characters. Using their powers of imagination,
learners develop a detailed life history for their characters, and conjure
up stories of their trials, troubles, successes, failures, hopes and
dreams - just as authors create characters in stories.
Once learners have created characters, they take on the identities of
their characters and interact - through dialogues, conversations, discussions,
and role plays. Role playing allows learners to explore new ways of
self-expression in the language and the culture.
To create characters, learners need language - lots of language. Each
chapter in a character's story leads to new vocabulary areas, new phrases,
expressions, or slang. Stories move in time as well, from present to
past to future, to real and unreal conditions, to possibilities, probabilities,
obligations, and the like - all requiring language. And when learners
role play their characters, all the language of social interaction and
appropriateness enters the picture.
Characters are products of culture. To develop a character's identity,
learners need to situate characters in concrete cultural circumstances
- in families, places, social groups - with specific cultural practices,
cultural products, and specific cultural perspectives. This calls for
cultural research and analysis, and comparison with the learners' cultures.
Building characters, unlocking imagination, and unleashing creativity
capture the powerful force of play in learning. When learners can engage
a playful spirit with humor, laughter, and a shared sense of simple
fun, learning language can become a pleasant, effortless experience.
"We begin to see at birth, but we do not develop the
ability to speak until well into our second year. Visual and linguistic
experience are intertwined throughout human development, and ESL/EFL
teachers take advantage of the relationship between the visual and the
linguistic in a variety of ways. They use visual aids to spark conversation;
they ask students to describe photographs; they instruct students to
draw objects or scenes from dictation. Yet the appearance of a practical
book for use by ESL teachers that taps learners' creative visual experience
is rare, with few such books currently in print. Faces: Characters
in search of authors, Patrick Moran's innovative ESL workbook,
is thus quite welcome.
With Faces, the publisher has brought to market a highly
useful teaching tool. The author has provided students with a means
for using language to express something meaningful and personal in class,
and not simply to practice decontextualized skills. By taking a minimalist
approach to his task as a materials developer, Moran has freed the imaginations
of both learners and teachers, resulting, one expects, in a wide variety
of inventive uses in language classrooms."
Dr. Tim Walsh, professional artist and TESOL educator.
For the complete review, click here.
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