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A cross-cultural and literary lesson with Jojo Moyes: a teaching proposal for adult learners in CPIA (Provincial Centre for Adult Education)

od Lucia Iacovone
Jazyk: EN
Document available also in: IT

David Crystal, a well-known British linguist, states that English has developed significantly and is now a global language , and it has a central role as it is used and understood by millions of people worldwide. Indeed, it is difficult to deny. As a result, all educational agencies, state institutes, private or university schools [in Italy], offer a series of diverse level courses for communicating in English.

The same happens in Italian CPIAs [Provincial Centre for Adult Education] in which the MIUR (Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) foresees the acquisition of two basic competences as the keynote of the study of the English language: the use of the language to talk about one's own experience and environment and the ability to exchange simple and direct information on familiar and usual topics.

But what role does literature have in this scenario? Apparently none as it was not foreseen by the ministerial programs; however, thanks to the principle of didactic and academic autonomy, it is possible to extend the educational offer with specific topics or themes.

Even foreign students, including those who now represent a wide range of CPIA users, can appreciate a literary text as it represents a contribution for their self-esteem and development of critical judgment.
As P.E. Balboni[1] points out, literary education should encourage the joy and need for literature in pupils., That is to say, it should originate in all feelings of appreciation of the text and its characteristics and make them reflect on the messages conveyed in a novel or a poem until the pupils see in the texts a guide to the great questions of humanity and the world.
"Literary education at school is a powerful vehicle for decolonizing a strong Eurocentric vision, incapable, that is, of knowing and feeling the other - even within the cultural traditions - not as a threat, but as an opportunity for new and often unpredictable exchanges "[2].

[1] P.E. Balboni. Le sfide di Babele. Insegnare le lingue nelle società complesse. Turin. Utet. 2008. pg. 217.

[2] D. Santarone. Letteratura e intercultura. in R. Roig Vila & M. Fiorucci (Eds.) (2010). Claves para la investigación en innovación y calidad educativas. La integración de las Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación y la Interculturalidad en las aulas / Strumenti di ricerca per l’innovazione e la qualità in ambito educativo. Le Tecnologie dell’Informazione e della Comunicazione e l’Interculturalità nella scuola. Alcoy & Roma: Marfil & Università degli Studi Roma Tre, 369-380.


Depending on the target audience, one or more lessons dedicated to literature can be organized. The following is a 6-hour lesson plan aimed at adolescents and adults learners of various ethnic groups, focusing on the contemporary novel by Jojo Moyes ‘Me Before You’ through the ad hoc selection of anthological passages.

Published in Great Britain in 2012 and translated into other languages, the novel that brought its author worldwide success, addresses, among others, the issues of disability and euthanasia that is often spoken of in the media.

This novel was chosen, first of all, because it was written in the contemporary era, giving the opportunity to enrich the current English language vocabulary with words or situations from past centuries’ texts, which are more removed from readers. Secondly, because in a multi-ethnic class, it allows for a wide-ranging intercultural discussion on topics such as life, death and disability.

This lesson’s necessary prerequisites for students are at least a B2 level of knowledge of the English language and a certain familiarity with the literary genre of the novel.

In the warm-up phase, it is good to investigate the students’ ideological-religious values. For some cultures and religions, in fact, such as those in Africa or Asia, the idea of ​​life and death are governed by rigorous precepts and rules different from those of the Italian and Catholic tradition. A pre-debate on this topic is certainly recommended to pave the way.

Proceed with the reading of selected passages aloud. The suggested methodologies are the cooperative learning and the reading method.
Inside the novel, the first encounter between the two protagonists takes on an interesting role: Louisa Clark, a lively and chatty, 26-year-old belonging to the working class, accepts the job of assistant to the rich and wealthy Traynor family to which young William belongs. William is 35 years old and became a paraplegic due to an accident.

After reading this or other relevant passages of the text, we proceed to the compilation of comprehension exercises (reading comprehension) with opened or closed answers and selective listening exercises. Later, if there is a LIM (interactive multimedia whiteboard) in the classroom, we move on to the vision of the film based on the novel of the same name ‘Me Before You’ directed by T. Sharrock (2016).
Writing dialogue (role-play) about the first meeting between strangers, or the biographical narration of the first day of work, can be proposed as follow-up activities. 
Before the end of the class an intercultural discussion on the topics of euthanasia and disability can also be included.

This blog post was originally posted on EPALE Italy by Serena Freni Sterrantino.

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