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Cappuccino Soul

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

ESL Class: Dream Variations

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Here's a picture of my English as a Second Language class that met earlier today. We had a good time reading some Langston Hughes poems, including The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Dream Variations. The lesson was about the importance of using the correct rhythm and stress when speaking. We also focused on reading, understanding, and discussing poetry.

I had my students read a few of Langston's poems and we talked about the meaning of some of the words. We also listened to Hughes read his poetry and saw an interpretive dance/performance of Dream Variations on Youtube.

At the end of the class, I asked the students to answer the question, "What does the poem Dream Variations make you think of?"

Here are a few of the responses:

1. I think that dreams can [be]come reality.

2. With a beautiful poem and the happy Dance in the pale evening, she found her identity.

3. I remember one place in my country, I missing the river, and swimming in the clearness and the peace.

I like the poem because the dream, to make effort the black people free in the world.

I think when you try very hard you make really your dream.

4. The life is a poem

Dance, dance tenderly and fling until so far

Look the mother nature, look de fleurs, the trees, the animals and you understand the life

I love it!

The students shown in the picture above come from Colombia, Iran, France, and Korea.

Dream Variations
by Langston Hughes

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me--
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

How great is that, to have such a diverse clase with a great understanding and feeling of the poem. I did that today, I stretched my arms out and I looked tward the sky. I did not spin around but I danced. It's grear to be alive and I want the LORD to know how much I appreciate my life.
MaDear

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Well Halleluiah MaDear! I'm glad you're giving thanks to God. Keep on doin' it!
Alicia

myabubakar said...

great job teaching such a diverse class. must be interesting eh?
i like the poem a lot and wonder if u write poems too. if so then why not share them eh.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

myabubakar,
Thanks! Yes, I teach a few classes and the students hail from all over the world. I'm sure I can't measure the gift this is for me.
Langston Hughes is a master! No wonder you like his poems.
:-)
Yes, I am a poet and have posted a few of my pieces in the past. But I don't want to put them ALL out there. I may want to put them in a book or other project.
:-)
Hint...........
Thanks for commenting!
Alicia

manalone said...

I'm not a teacher .. or the good words is i didn't study to bea teacher , but i think that we are all a teatcher evritime in our life.
I learn spoken words to young people in Neighborhood social center (france) . and i always amazing when i understand their feelings of a poetry... like your student ... poetry does not just talk to you in your or another language .. poetry talk to your soul, your mind...

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Mr. Leroy,
You're right. All of us can teach someone at some point in our lives. I'm so glad to hear that you're teaching poetry to young people in France. I agree with you. Poetry is not only about the words and what they mean, but what's BEHIND the words and how they make you feel.
Thanks for commenting!
Alicia

PatricktheRogue said...

One of the coolest things I ever saw was Danny and Glover perform their "An Evening with Langston and Martin." They intersperesed Glover reading Hughes with Justice reading from King. Of course, it wasn't an evening, but during an afternoon in an Israeli Middle School. This was during the Al Aqso intifada, before the wall was erceted, so suicide bombers were a daily occurence all over Tel Aviv and surrounding areas.
The students were very attentive, much more attentive than any random American school audience would be I am sure. And they asked pointed questions about the meaning of the speeches and poems and about Dr. King's philosophy of nonviolence. They were children living in a world of turmoil and violence looking for a way out of the madness. Both the students and the actors cam away touched deeply by the experience.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

PTR,
Wow. I wish someone could have video taped that reading. I'd love to see it. Langston and Martin should be taught all over the world!
Alicia