General Learning a language means using it for a wide variety of purposes. Language is best acquired when attention is focused on meaning, not on form. Words and phrases not closely related to objects and action remain empty and lifeless to young learners. Language comes alive when presented in meaning-making contexts. Words/phrases that are used to accomplish many useful purposes follow a certain system inherent in the language itself. Learners become familiar with the system through continuous exposure to the language in meaning-focused situations. Interaction, discussion and sharing of ideas among learners provide opportunities that elicit ‘real’ information about them and their experiences and opinions. Encourage learners to work in pairs and small groups and let them go beyond the textbook by providing a variety of language inputs for spontaneous and natural use of language. Build on the exercises given in the textbook and design more tasks/activities in keeping with learners’ interests, needs and surroundings. Employ free-response exercises (with more than one possible response). Promote reading habits through story reading (not merely teaching stories as texts), story retelling, choral reading, shared reading, etc. Create class libraries for exchange of books and shared reading. The library may also move with children to the next higher class. Poems need not be taught line by line, word by word. You may give a model reading but let every child read the poem on her/his own to feel the richness of language, rhythm and music of words. Exercises accompanying the poem are more for understanding the poem as a whole than for teaching language items. Honeydew Encourage learners to tell new stories, narrate anecdotes, compose short poems in English or their own language, talk about pictures, illustrations in the book and cartoons in newspapers/magazines. Don’t get anxious about the errors they will make. Constant exposure, practice and correction in the form of feedback will help them improve themselves by and by. Every page has a column for words and meanings. Encourage children to write down other words they find difficult, along with their meanings, in this column. UNITS 1-3 The Best Christmas Present in the World Some suggestions given below are applicable to all prose lessons in the book. A war story against the backdrop of Christmas, a festival marked by family reunion, exchange of presents and universal bonhomie. Connie, aged 101, receives a present from a stranger whom she mistakes for her long-awaited husband. What is the present — the letter or the mistaken identity of the visitor? Spend about 20 minutes discussing the dates and events given under Before you read. Since the answers are given later in the book, the focus should be on the nature of each event — whether, in human terms, the event recalls defeat and destruction or endeavour and success. Let children express their own views. Even if their observations do not reveal any understanding of the nature of events, the discussion session will provide an excellent base for initiating work on the story under reference. The story is sectioned into three parts. Parts II and III may be sectioned further according to convenience and time available. Discuss each illustration with reference to the story. Illustrations are given for better comprehension and sharper visual appeal. Comprehension Check at the end of each section is a recall of what children have read so far. Design while-reading comprehension exercises in the form of factual comprehension questions, multiple choice questions and/or completion of sentences, etc. Here is one example in three formats: Factual or inferential comprehension (Answer the question in your own words.) Why is Jim ‘ashamed to say’ that Fritz ‘began it’? Multiple choice (Mark the right answer.) Jim is ‘ashamed to say’ that Fritz ‘began it’ because (i) he didn’t know how to do it. (ii) he wishes he had done it first. (iii) he didn’t want to do it. Sentence completion : (Choose the right item and complete the sentence.) But it is true, _______________ that Fritz began it. (much to my delight / shame / dismay) A related item here is the use of ‘begin’ and ‘start’ in appropriate contexts. Use ‘begin’ or ‘start’ appropriately in the following sentences. (i) What time do you _________ work in the morning? (ii) If we want to get there, we should ___________ now. (iii) The film ___________ at 7 pm. (iv) No matter how you try, the car won’t ___________. Very often ‘begin’ and ‘start’ can be used in the same way, though ‘start’ is more common in informal speech. [See sentences (i) and (iii)] In some constructions only ‘start’ can be used. [See sentences (ii) and (iv)]. Questions under working with the text to be answered orally, later to be written in the copy book. At the end of the lesson, draw children’s attention to the two quotations given in the box. Let them discuss how the story illustrates the same ideas. Then, ask them to find sentences in the story which appeal to them most. Here are some examples: We agreed about everything and he was my enemy. No one dies in a football match. No children are orphaned. No wives become widows. I know from all that happened today how much both armies long for peace. We shall be together again, I’m sure of it. (It’s a good example of the use of ‘irony’ in the story.) Notes for the Teacher The Ant and the Cricket Spend about 15 minutes eliciting, and listening to, fables or fable-like stories from children, preferably in their own language(s). Help them retell one or two in English by providing appropriate words and phrases. The story about the Sun and the Wind at the end of ‘Glimpses of the Past’ may be used here. Ask them if it’s a fable, though there are no animals in it. Try the following writing task. Rearrange the following sentences to construct a story. Start with sentence 4. 1. One cold day, a hungry grasshopper came to the anthill and begged for a little something to eat. 2. He replied, “Alas! I spent all my time singing and playing and dancing, and never thought about winter.” 3. One ant asked him how he had spent his time during summer and whether he had saved anything for winter. 4. A nest of ants had been occupied all through the summer and autumn collecting food for winter. 5. They carefully stored it in the underground chambers of their home. 6. Then we have nothing to give you. 7. Thus, when winter came, they had plenty to eat. 8. People who play and sing all summer should only dance in winter. 9. The ant answered. Find three adjectives in the first stanza associated with summer and spring. Find four phrases/lines in the same stanza associated with the onset of winter. Suppose the last line of the first stanza were to be rewritten as ‘Oh! What will become of me? Says the cricket.’ Would you find it acceptable in the poem? If not, why not? Speak the words given below. Ask children to write the word, and against it two new words that rhyme. Honeydew· sing ____________ ___________ · crumb ____________ ___________ · through ____________ ___________ · wished ____________ ___________ (Last sound in ‘crumb’ is ‘m’. In ‘wished’ it is ‘t’.) Activity 4 under working with language needs patience and time. Punctuation in writing sentences is an important teaching point. Since the activity is to be taken up in groups, there will be several versions of each sentence to begin with. Encourage children to discuss why only one version is grammatically acceptable and not the other.The Tsunami A natural calamity causing huge destruction and loss of life andproperty. Alongside the story of deep sorrow are reassuring details of courage, survival and resilience. While covering sections and sub sections of the text, focus on situations in which children realise the importance of doing whatever possible to save human and animal life, to participate in relief work and to understand the concept of disaster management. Elicit their comments on, and reactions to, the stories of Meghna and Almas. Focus on values such as courage, care and compassion in the bitter struggle for survival and rehabilitation. The activity under Before you read is like an elementary geography lesson. Map reading along with language work (asking/answering questions, spotting location/ direction and describing them with precision) is a good example of softening subject boundaries and conforming to the idea of language across the curriculum. Use other maps from the geography/ history textbook for further practice. While dealing with ‘Active/Passive voice’ (working with language: Activity 3), provide samples of texts exemplifying the use of passive voice such as short newspaper reports and descriptions of processes/experiments. As far as possible, avoid a mechanical transformation exercise confined to isolated sentences. Try a simple exercise given here. Notes for the Teacher Complete the passage using passive forms of the verbs given in brackets. Olive oil ________ (use) for cooking, salad dressing, etc. Olives_____ (pick) in autumn when they are ripe. They ______(shake) from the trees and ________ (gather) up, usually by hand. Then they _______ (grind) to a thick paste which _______ (spread) onto special mats. The mats then ______ (layer) up on the pressing machine which will gently squeeze them to produce olive oil. The last activity under speaking and writing is a step towards reducing the gap between children’s life at school and their life outside the school.Geography Lesson Children already know words like ‘aeroplane, airport’, etc. Draw their attention to words like ‘jetliner’, ‘jet engine’ and ‘jetlag’ in the following activity. (i) Match items under A with those under B AB Jetliner • Fatigue/tiredness after a long flight Jetlag • rich social group flying around the world for business or pleasure Jet engine • aircraft powered by a jet engine (the) jet set • engine that emits high-speed hot gases at the back when it moves forward. (ii) Check the meaning of ‘jet black’ and ‘jetsam’ in the dictionary. Complete the idiom : jetsam and _________ Today, if there is a border dispute or any other contentious issue between two countries, an organisation called the United Nations acts as a mediator to keep peace and order in the world. Encourage children to gather information about the UN and its constituent bodies. Peace Memorial Park is the only park of its kind in the world. It is in Hiroshima, Japan, and marks the spot where the first atomic bomb was dropped on ___________ (Children will remember the date and event if they recall the activity under Honeydew Before you read in The Best Christmas Present in the World). A mini project could be planned on this. Ask children to draw a map of their locality/village depicting its physical features and distances between places, etc. Recite and write on the blackboard the following poem and discuss the items given at the end of the poem. Wake gently this morning to a different day. Listen There is no bray of buses, no horns blow. There is only the silence of a city hushed with snow. Name a few cities in India which the poem reminds you of. Which words/phrases in the poem evoke images different from those suggested by ‘the silence of the city’?Glimpses of the Past ‘Glimpses’ of the history of our country to be understood through pictures with strips of text for support. Children have a natural enthusiasm for this kind of material in the textbook. Children may read the comic strip aloud. Then they break up into small groups, discuss what they have read and write a summary. Each group presents its summary one by one. The whole class then enters into a general discussion, and a consolidated draft of the composition is prepared with the active support of the teacher. Conversely, divide the class into small groups. Let each group look at and describe a set of pictures (assigned to them) and construct their own text. Texts thus produced can be put together to form a coherent story, to be edited for accuracy. Notes for the Teacher If necessary, texts may first be produced in the child’s own language and the teacher can help them to reformulate these in English. For children fluent in English, this may be an opportunity to formulate equivalent texts in their own languages. Some details of each ‘glimpse’ of the past may be had from the history textbook of the same class. The history teacher may be invited to facilitate the activity. Picture reading under speaking and writing to be attempted in the same manner. Creating a comic (Activity 5) will be great fun if children can be persuaded to draw/learn to draw matchstick figures. Enlist the help of the art teacher.Macavity – The Mystery Cat Have you ever wondered why people generally communicate with their pet dog mainly in English? What would you say to persuade your cat to leave the mouse alone? Try to say it in English. Which sentence about Macavity has been repeated four times in the poem? Why has it been repeated? Think about it. Mention a couple of ‘crimes’ discovered in the kitchen, and your Macavity was nowhere to be seen. a fiend in feline shape Does it remind you of a similar expression about a wolf? What is it, and what does it mean? Here are four lines about someone’s cat. Read them and say whether it is a mystery cat. My kitten walks on velvet feet And makes no sound at all. And in the doorway nightly sits To watch the darkness fall. Honeydew UNITS 4-7Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory A Satyajit Ray story with a surprise ending that brings in its wake the much needed psychological relief to the sophisticated executive beleagured by a conspiracy, which is a humorous take after all. Before asking children to read the text, tell the story part by part, each part ending where the listener wonders what comes next. Activity 3 under working with language is about two tense forms — simple past and present perfect. Notice how both have been used in conjunction with each other. The following explanatory notes may be useful. • The present perfect tense is used to refer to an action initiated and completed in the past and is associated with the present. It has its effect on the present situation. I have seen the Taj. (I know what it looks like.) He has arrived. (He is here.) I have finished my work. (I am free now.) Present perfect tense is usual with already, so far,not yet, ever, never etc. It is not used with ago, yesterday, last week/month/year, etc.The Last Bargain Here is a method of teaching that may be tried. (a) Let children read the first stanza silently. Ask the following questions. (i) How many persons/characters are there? (ii) Who are they? (iii) Who is big and who is small? (iv) What does the person in the first line say? (v) What does the other one in the fourth line say? (vi) Do they stay together or part company? Why? (b) Now reconstruct the episode. Begin like this. I was walking on the road looking for work. I saw the king in his chariot. He had a sword in his hand. He was very kind to me. He shook my hand and offered to hire me. I did not accept his offer. To me, power is not a valuable thing. It is not permanent. It won’t make me happy. I was looking for something else as a reward for my work. What is he looking for? Let us read the next stanza. (c) Do the other stanzas in the same way. The clue to what the person is looking for lies in the last line. The operative phrases are ‘the child’s play’ and ‘a free man’. The child and her/his play is a metaphor for innocence and inward happiness, which gives this person a sense of fulfilment and freedom from stress and strife. He feels genuinely free and happy in the company of the child. Recite each stanza with feeling, pausing at the right places. The method suggested may work better for a poem with a story.The Summit Within Adventure and the world of nature – the arduous task of reaching the highest summit in the world makes the climber reflect on the ‘internal summits’ which are, perhaps, higher than the Everest. The text underscores the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the adventure in a single perspective. Divide the text into three parts. A convenient division is suggested here. ‘...............that mountains are a means of communion with God’. (end of Part-I) ‘It is emotional. It is spiritual’. (end of Part-II) The remaining is Part-III. Design while-reading comprehension questions for each part. The multiple choice items are given at the end of the lesson. You may try the following as additional questions. What is the author’s personal answer to the question as to why people climb mountains? How is the same question answered in Part-II in a different way? Honeydew Famous climbers have recorded how they needed just that help? Explain the italicised phrase. Looking round from the summit, you tell yourself that _____________________________. (a) Complete this sentence using the same words as in the text without referring to the book. (b) Now complete it using a clause/phrase of your own without changing meaning. Activities 2 and 3 under working with language provide ample opportunities for vocabulary development. Extend Activity 2 by choosing new words from the text to cover their adjective and/or adverb forms. remark – remarkable – remarkably type – typical – typically Use each item in a meaningful context, involving more than one sentence. ‘What you say is not appropriate, though it’s a good remark.’ ‘Isn’t that remarkable?’ ‘It may be so, but it doesn’t mean you are remarkably objective.’ You may not find the dialogue above remarkable enough, but it meets the immediate requirement appropriately. Re-read and discuss passages where the author’s admiration for the mountains and passion for adventure comes through.The School Boy A school is a place where children and teachers assemble every morning to learn from one another. Find out if any child would like to describe school in a different way. An interesting discussion on different types of schools, supported by pictures from magazines/newspapers, may ensue — a village school where children are sitting on the floor; another school where they are sitting at long desks; an outdoor lesson under a tree, etc. Ask children how they reach school. Do they walk or take a bus, etc.? What problems others in remote areas may face in reaching school on time? Any suggestions as to how to make school an interesting and enjoyable place! Notes for the Teacher HoneydewThis is Jody’s Fawn A story about a child’s emotional preoccupation with the fawn whose mother had to be killed to save his father’s life. The story highlights values such as compassion and justice, care and concern for human and animal life. Spend some time on a discussion about ‘home remedies’ for commonplace health problems/ailments. Should we see a doctor about every little thing, or should we talk to the grandmother first? The growing concern about preservation of environment and protection of animal life has gone a long way in persuading schools to refrain from dissecting animals for experiment. Elicit children’s comments on the issue and on the law that punishes humans for hurting animals. Activity 1 under working with language is about reporting questions – yes/no and wh-questions. The use of ‘if/whether’ in the case of yes/no type questions should be explicitly explained. Devise separate exercises for teaching the use of ‘if/whether’, the appropriate reporting verb, the changes in pronominals in the reported speech and the sequence of tenses. Here is a simple exercise to exemplify some of these points. Choose the correct word to complete statements in indirect speech given below. Write words in the blanks given. (a) “Where do you come from?” I ___________(said/asked) him where ______________ (he/ you) come from. (b) “What is your name?” He asked me what ____________ (my/his) name. (is/was) (c) “Are you happy?” I asked him ______________ (if/whether) he _____________ (is/was) happy. (d) “Do you live here?” He asked me ___________ (whether/if) I ____________ (live/ lived) ___________ (here/there). (e) “Why are you crying?” The teacher asked the child ______________ (if/why) she _____ (is/was/were) crying. Here is another exercise. Read the following dialogue between Jody and his father. Rewrite their conversation in indirect speech. Penny lay quiet, staring at the ceiling. “Boy, you’ve got me hemmed in.” “It won’t take much to raise the fawn. It will soon start eating leaves.” “You are smarter than boys of your age.” “We took its mother, and it wasn’t to blame.” “It seems ungrateful to leave it to starve.” Begin like this: Penny lay quiet staring at the ceiling. He said to Jody that ______________________________________________. Jody replied that it wouldn’t _________________________ Activity 2 under working with language deals with transitive and intransitive verbs. Ask children to underline the direct object in the following sentences. He brought me a colourful umbrella. I will write a letter to him. You should give yourself a chance. Activity 3 under writing may be linked with the first task covering home remedies under ‘Before you read,’ It will be useful to take it up separately also.The Duck and the Kangaroo Try the method suggested for The Last Bargain. Before taking up the text and the activities given, let children talk about ‘unusual’ activities they want to do such as walking on the moon, floating in outer space or shaking hands with an octopus. Take every idea seriously, no matter how improbable it may seem. We may come upon enough raw material of which The Duck and the Kangaroo is made. It may be suggested that a story/poem like the present one need not be factually correct or ‘real’. We enjoy reading them because they appeal to our imagination, curiosity and sense of the music of words. Notes for the Teacher Children should be encouraged to attempt short poems such as the following. 1. Once I knew A Kangaroo Named Sue How about you? 2. ‘There is a man called Peter Pan’, ‘I know another who’s neither Pan nor Peter. You haven’t met him, have you? It’s my friend Kanga Roo’. Sample two is impromptu as you rightly guessed, did you?A Visit to Cambridge Excerpt from a travelogue highlighting exchange of views between two extraordinary persons on what it means to be ‘differently abled’. A tour through Cambridge had a surprise, both pleasant and poignant, for the author. He met the brilliant and completely paralysed author of A Brief History of Time, and talked to him for a full half-hour. Activity 2 under working with language is about the present participle (dancing/walking) used as adjective. Running on the road, he saw __________. (participle) The train is running. __________ (verb) The running train __________ (adjective) The use of past participle as adjective may also be illustrated here. He has broken the window. (verb) The window was broken when the almirah was taken out (verb — in passive) See the broken window. (adjective) Activity 3 under speaking and writing may be done as a project. Lot of oral work to precede the writing task. The final draft should be edited and improved before it is put up on the board. Honeydew Activities 1 and 2 under speaking and writing are about word stress. Stressed syllables to be pronounced clearly and loudly. Some words of more than one syllable from the text may also be listed according to whether the stress falls on the first or the second syllable.When I Set Out for Lyonnesse The poem has a clear beginning-middle-end structure. The beginning is ‘setting out’, the middle is ‘sojourn’ and the end is ‘return’. Draw children’s attention to appropriate words/phrases/lines that suggest and reinforce each phase of the journey. ‘Lyonnesse’ to be pronounced as lie-an-ness. The last syllable receives the primary stress. If feasible and useful, explain the rhyme scheme and its musical effect on the listener. Stanza 1 – A B B A A B Lyonnesse -A Stanza 2 – A C C A A C away -B Stanza 3 – A D D A A D there -C eyes -D Notes for the Teacher UNITS 8-10A Short Monsoon Diary Some extracts from the diary of a nature lover who enjoys the monsoon in the hills and observes the accompanying changes in the world of flora and fauna. Activities under working with language are numerous and of different types. Spend sufficient time on each activity and devise, wherever necessary, new but related exercises for further practice. The following project may be tried under writing. Do you notice the changes that occur in nature as the seasons change? Write five or six sentences about what you see in nature in your part of the country during the months of May, August and December. Record the daily temperature for a fortnight and note down the maximum and minimum temperatures. Comment on the rise and fall in temperature. Record the time of sunrise and sunset for a fortnight and check if there is any appreciable change in the time.On the Grasshopper and Cricket This poem is relatively difficult. The difficulty lies in its brevity of expression and complexity of thought. The introductory note and activities under working with the poem should be done elaborately adding additional explanatory notes/tasks, wherever necessary. Compare it with The Ant and the Cricket to bring out differences of style and theme clearly with examples. To concretise ‘the poetry of earth’ or ‘the sounds of nature’, use the poem given below, which is all about animal cries. Ask children to rearrange the lines taking note of the words that rhyme. The last line of each stanza begins with ‘But’. Cows moo. Lions roar. But I speak. Bears snore. Doves coo. Crickets creak. Dogs growl. Horses neigh. But I talk. Wolves howl. Donkeys bray. Parrots squawk.The Great Stone Face – I and II A classic piece of American fiction juxtaposing mellowness of humanism with magnificence of art. Ernest, an unschooled dweller of the valley, has close affinity with the ‘Stone Face’ atop the hills beyond. Who resembles the splendid Stone Face — not someone for all his wealth, not someone else for all his heroic deeds, and not someone else yet again for his poetry and sublime ideas. It is none other than Ernest who personifies a rare blend of basic simplicity, practical wisdom and deep love for humanity. The original story has been heavily abridged. Simplification has been avoided in the interest of authenticity. You may like to read the unabridged text for pleasure and edification. Design three or four while-reading comprehension questions for each section of the text (parts I and II) The writing activity (Part-II : IV) is for further practice in language analysis. Rearranging phrases to construct sentences and then rearranging sentences to construct a paragraph will provide many opportunities for thinking about cohesion and coherence. Activities 1 and 2 under working with language (Part I) on adding -ness and -ity for forming nouns and adding -ly to adjectives for forming adverbs should be completed in three or four sessions. One period may be devoted to each item including resolving intermittent queries and offering explanations and the writing work involved. Honeydew Before you read There are some dates or periods of time in the history of the world that are so significant that everyone knows and remembers them. The story you will read mentions one such date and event: a war between the British and the Germans in 1914. Can you guess which war it was? Do you know which events the dates below refer to? (a) 4 July 1776 (b) 17 December 1903 (c) 6 August 1945 (d) 30 January 1948 (e) 12 April 1961 (f) 20 July 1969 The answers are on page 23. I I spotted it in a junk shop in Bridport, a roll-top desk. The man said it was early nineteenth century, and oak. I had wanted one, but they were far too expensive. This one was in a bad condition, the roll-top in several pieces, one leg clumsily mended, scorch marks all down one side. It was going for very little money. I thought I could restore it. It would be a risk, a challenge, but I had to have it. I paid the man and brought it back to my workroom at the back of the garage. I began work on it on Christmas Eve. I removed the roll-top completely and pulled out the drawers. The veneer had lifted almost everywhere — it spotted it: saw it; found it (informal) scorch marks: burn marks was going for: was selling for (informal) restore: (here) repair veneer: a thin layer of plastic or decorative wood on furniture of cheap wood taken their toll on: damaged stuck fast: shut tight looked like water damage to me. Both fire and water had clearly taken their toll on this desk. The last drawer was stuck fast. I tried all I could to ease it out gently. In the end I used brute force. I struck it sharply with the side of my fist and the drawer flew open to reveal a shallow space underneath, a secret drawer. There was something in there. I reached in and took out a small black tin box. read: “Mrs Jim Macpherson, 12 Copper Beeches, Bridport, Dorset.” I took out the letter and unfolded it. It was written in pencil and dated at the top — “December 26, 1914”. Comprehension Check 1. What did the author find in a junk shop? 2. What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there? II Dearest Connie, I write to you in a much happier frame of mind because something wonderful has just happened that I must tell The Best Christmas Present in the World you about at once. We were all standing to in our trenches yesterday morning, Christmas morning. It was crisp and quiet all about, as beautiful a morning as I’ve ever seen, as cold and frosty as a Christmas morning should be. I should like to be able to tell you that we began it. But the truth, I’m ashamed to say, is that Fritz began it. First someone saw a white flag waving from the trenches opposite. Then they were calling out to us from across no man’s land, “Happy Christmas, Tommy! Happy Christmas!” When we had got over the surprise, some of us shouted back, “Same to you, Fritz! Same to you!” I thought that would be that. We all did. But then suddenly one of them was up there in his grey greatcoat and waving a white flag. “Don’t shoot, lads!” someone shouted. And no one did. Then there was another Fritz up on the parapet, and another. “Keep your heads down,” I told the men, “it’s a trick.” But it wasn’t. One of the Germans was waving a bottle above his head. “It is Christmas Day, Tommy. We have schnapps. We have sausage. We meet you? Yes?” By this time there were dozens of them walking towards us across no man’s land and not a rifle between them. Little Private Morris was the first up. “Come on, boys. What are we waiting for?” And then there was no stopping them. I was the officer. I should have stopped them there and then, I suppose, but the truth is that it never even occurred to me I should. All along their line and ours I could see men walking slowly towards one another, grey coats, khaki coats meeting in the middle. And I was one of them. I was part of this. In the middle of the war we were making peace. You cannot imagine, dearest Connie, my feelings as I looked into the eyes of the Fritz officer, who approached me, hand outstretched. “Hans Wolf,” he said, gripping my hand warmly and holding it. “I am from Dusseldorf. I play the cello in the orchestra. Happy Christmas.” standing to: taking up positions trenches: long deep ditches in the ground where soldiers hide from the enemy Fritz: (here), a name for a German soldier (Fritz is a common German name) Tommy: a common English name, used here to refer to British soldiers that would be that: that was all; that was the end of the matter schnapps (pronounced, sh-naps): a German drink made from grain cello: a musical instrument like a large violin Honeydew “Captain Jim Macpherson,” I replied. “And a Happy Christmas to you too. I’m a school teacher from Dorset, in the west of England.” “Ah, Dorset,” he smiled. “I know this place. I know it very well.” We shared my rum ration and his excellent sausage. And we talked, Connie, how we talked. He spoke almost perfect English. But it turned out that he had never set foot in Dorset, never even been to England. He had learned all he knew of England from school, and from reading books in English. His favourite writer was Thomas Hardy, his favourite book Far from the Madding Crowd. So out there in no man’s land we talked of Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak and Sergeant Troy and Dorset. He had a wife and one son, born just six months ago. As I looked about me there were huddles of khaki and grey everywhere, all over no man’s land, smoking, laughing, talking, drinking, eating. Hans Wolf and I shared what was left of your wonderful Christmas cake, Connie. He thought the marzipan was the best he had ever tasted. I agreed. We agreed about everything, and he was my enemy. There never was a Christmas party like it, Connie. Then someone, I don’t know who, brought out a football. Greatcoats were dumped in piles to make goalposts, and the next thing we knew it was Tommy against Fritz out in the middle of no man’s land. Hans Wolf and I looked on and cheered, clapping our hands and stamping our feet, to keep out the cold as much as anything. There was a moment when I noticed our breaths mingling in the air between us. He saw it too and smiled. “Jim Macpherson,” he said after a while, “I think this is how we should resolve this war. A football match. No one dies in a football match. No children are orphaned. No wives become widows.” “I’d prefer cricket,” I told him. “Then we Tommies could be sure of winning, probably.” We laughed at that, and together we watched the game. Sad to say, Connie, Fritz won, two goals to one. But as Hans Wolf generously said, our goal was wider than theirs, so it wasn’t quite fair. The time came, and all too soon, when the game was finished, the schnapps and the rum and the sausage had long since run out, and we knew it was all over. I wished Hans well and told him I hoped he would see his family again soon, that the fighting would end and we could all go home. “I think that is what every soldier wants, on both sides,” Hans Wolf said. “Take care, Jim Macpherson. I shall never forget this moment, nor you.” He saluted and walked away from me slowly, unwillingly, I felt. He turned to wave just once and then became one of the hundreds of grey-coated men drifting back towards their trenches. That night, back in our dugouts, we heard them dugout: a shelter forsinging a carol, and singing it quite beautifully. It was soldiers madeStille Nacht, Silent Night. Our boys gave them a rousing by digging achorus of While Shepherds Watched. We exchanged hole in the carols for a while and then we all fell silent. We had had ground and our time of peace and goodwill, a time I will treasure as covering it long as I live. The Best Christmas Present in the World Honeydew Dearest Connie, by Christmas time next year, this war will be nothing but a distant and terrible memory. I know from all that happened today how much both armies long for peace. We shall be together again soon, I’m sure of it. Your loving, Jim. Comprehension Check 1. Who had written the letter, to whom, and when? 2. Why was the letter written — what was the wonderful thing that had happened? 3. What jobs did Hans Wolf and Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers? 4. Had Hans Wolf ever been to Dorset? Why did he say he knew it? 5. Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from the war? How do you know this? III I folded the letter again and slipped it carefully back into its envelope. I kept awake all night. By morning I knew what I had to do. I drove into Bridport, just a few miles away. I asked a boy walking his dog where Copper Beeches was. House number 12 turned out to be nothing but a burned-out shell, the roof gaping, the windows boarded-up. I knocked at the house next door and asked if anyone knew the whereabouts of a Mrs Macpherson. Oh yes, said the old man in his slippers, he knew her well. A lovely old lady, he told me, a bit muddle-headed, but at her age she was entitled to be, wasn’t she? A hundred and one years old. She had been in the house when it caught fire. No one really knew how the fire had started, but it could well have been candles. She used candles rather than electricity, because she always thought electricity was too expensive. The fireman had got her out just in time. She was in a nursing home now, he told me, Burlington House, on the Dorchester road, on the other side of town. Comprehension Check 1. Why did the author go to Bridport? 2. How old was Mrs Macpherson now? Where was she? I found Burlington House Nursing Home easily enough. There were paper chains up in the hallway and a lighted Christmas tree stood in the corner with a lopsided angel on top. I said I was a friend come to visit Mrs Macpherson to bring her a Christmas present. I could see through into the dining room where everyone was wearing a paper hat and singing. The matron had a hat on too and seemed happy enough to see me. She even offered me a lit up:mince pie. She walked me along the corridor. became bright“Mrs Macpherson is not in with the others,” she told with happime. “She’s rather confused today so we thought it best ness, excite-if she had a good rest. She has no family you know, no ment one visits. So I’m sure she’ll be only too pleased to see suffused with: you.” She took me into a conservatory with wicker chairs (glow of happiness)and potted plants all around and left me. spread all overThe old lady was sitting in a wheelchair, her hands her face wispy bun. She was gazing out at the garden. “Hello,” I said. She turned and looked up at me vacantly. “Happy Christmas, Connie,” I went on. “I found this. I think it’s yours.” As I was speaking her eyes never left my face. I opened the tin box and gave it to her. That was the moment her eyes lit up with recognition and her face became suffused with a sudden glow of happiness. I explained about the desk, about how I had found it, but I don't think she was listening. For a while she said nothing, but stroked the letter tenderly with her fingertips. Suddenly she reached out and took my hand. Her eyes were filled with tears. “You told me you’d come home by Christmas, dearest,” she said. “And here you are, the best Christmas present in the world. Come closer, Jim dear, sit down.” I sat down beside her, and she kissed my cheek. “I read your letter so often Jim, every day. I wanted to hear your voice in my head. It always made me feel you were with me. And now you are. Now you’re back you can read it to me yourself. Would you do that for me, Jim dear? I just want to hear your voice again. I’d love that so much. And then perhaps we’ll have some tea. I’ve made you a nice Christmas cake, marzipan all around. I know how much you love marzipan.” MICHAEL MORPURGO Comprehension Check 1. Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was? 2. Which sentence in the text shows that the visitor did not try to hide his identity? 1. For how long do you think Connie had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer. 2. Why do you think the desk had been sold, and when? 3. Why do Jim and Hans think that games or sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree? 4. Do you think the soldiers of the two armies are like each other, or different from each other? Find evidence from the story to support your answer. 5. Mention the various ways in which the British and the German soldiers become friends and find things in common at Christmas. 6. What is Connie’s Christmas present? Why is it “the best Christmas present in the world”? 7. Do you think the title of this story is suitable for it? Can you think of any other title(s)? Honeydew 1. Look at these sentences from the story. I spotted it in a junk shop in Bridport... The man said it was made in the early nineteenth century… This one was in bad condition… The italicised verbs are in the past tense. They tell us what happened in the past, before now. (i) Read the passage below and underline the verbs in the past tense. A man got on the train and sat down. The compartment was empty except for one lady. She took her gloves off. A few hours later the police arrested the man. They held him for 24 hours and then freed him. Now look at these sentences. The veneer had lifted almost everywhere. Both fire and water had taken their toll on this desk. Notice the verb forms had lifted, had taken (their toll). The author found and bought the desk in the past. The desk was damaged before the author found it and bought it. Fire and water had damaged the desk before the author found it and bought it. We use verb forms like had damaged for an event in the ‘earlier past’. If there are two events in the past, we use the ‘had…’ form for the event that occurred first in the past. We also use the past perfect tense to show that something was wished for, or expected before a particular time in the past. For example, I had always wanted one… Discuss with your partner the difference in meaning in the sentences below. When I reached the station, the train left. When I reached the station, the train had left. (ii) Fill in the blanks using the correct form of the verbs in brackets. My little sister is very naughty. When she __________ (come) back from school yesterday, she had __________ (tear) her dress. We __________ (ask) her how it had __________ (happen). She __________ (say) she __________ __________ (have, quarrel) with a boy. She __________ __________ (have, beat) him in a race and he __________ __________ (have, try) to push her. She __________ __________ (have, The Best Christmas Present in the World tell) the teacher and so he __________ __________ (have, chase) her, and she __________ __________ (have, fall) down and __________ __________ (have, tear) her dress. (iii) Underline the verbs and arrange them in two columns, Past and Earlier past. (a) My friends set out to see the caves in the next town, but I stayed at home, because I had seen them already. (b) When they arrived at the station, their train had left. They came back home, but by that time I had gone out to see a movie! (c) So they sat outside and ate the lunch I had packed for them. (d) By the time I returned, they had fallen asleep! Past Earlier past 2. Dictionary work By the end of the journey, we had run out of drinking water. Look at the verb run out of in this sentence. It is a phrasal verb: it has two parts, a verb and a preposition or an adverb. Phrasal verbs often have meanings that are different from the meanings of their parts. Find these phrasal verbs in the story.Write down the sentences in which they occur. Consult a dictionary and write down the meaning that you think matches the meaning of the phrasal verb in the sentence. 3. Noun phrase Read the following sentence. I took out a small black tin box. The phrase in italics is a noun phrase. It has the noun — box — as the head word, and three adjectives preceding it. Honeydew Notice the order in which the adjectives occur — size (small), colour (black) and material (tin) of which it is made. We rarely use more than four adjectives before a noun and there is no rigid order in which they are used, though there is a preferred order of modifiers/adjectives in a noun phrase, as given below. determiner modifier 1 (opinion, feeling) modifier 2 (size, shape, age) modifier 3 (colour) modifier 4 (material) head word a/an/ the nice/lazy/ beautiful tall/ round/ old/young red/white/ light/dark silk/cotton/ woollen woman man/ table/chair 4. The table below contains a list of nouns and some adjectives. Use as many adjectives as you can to describe each noun. You might come up with some funny descriptions! Nouns Adjectives elephant circular, striped, enormous, multicoloured, round, cheerful, wild, blue, red, chubby, large, medium-sized, cold face building water 1. In groups discuss whether wars are a good way to end conflicts between countries. Then present your arguments to the whole class. 2. What kind of presents do you like and why? What are the things you keep in mind when you buy presents for others? Discuss with your partner. (For example, you might buy a book because it can be read and re-read over a period of time.) The Best Christmas Present in the World 1. Imagine that you are Jim. You have returned to your town after the war. In your diary record how you feel about the changes you see and the events that occur in your town. You could begin like this 25 December, 1919 It’s Christmas today, but the town looks….. Or Suppose you are the visitor. You are in a dilemma. You don't know whether to disclose your identity and disappoint the old lady or let her believe that her dear Jim has come back. Write a letter to a friend highlighting your anxiety, fears and feelings. 2. Given below is the outline of a story. Construct the story using the outline. A young, newly married doctor _______________ freedom fighter _______________ exiled to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the British _______________ infamous Cellular Jail _______________ prisoners tortured _______________ revolt by inmates _______________ doctor hanged _______________ wife waits for his return _______________ becomes old _______________ continues to wait with hope and faith. A fable is a story, often with animals as characters, that conveys a moral. This poem about an ant and a cricket contains an idea of far-reaching significance, which is as true of a four-legged cricket as of a ‘two-legged one’. Surely, you have seen a cricket that has two legs! A silly young cricket, accustomed to sing Through the warm, sunny months of gay summer and spring, Began to complain when he found that, at home, His cupboard was empty, and winter was come. Not a crumb to be found On the snow-covered ground; Not a flower could he see, Not a leaf on a tree. “Oh! what will become,” says the cricket, “of me?” At last by starvation and famine made bold, All dripping with wet, and all trembling with cold, Away he set off to a miserly ant, To see if, to keep him alive, he would grant Him shelter from rain, And a mouthful of grain. He wished only to borrow; He’d repay it tomorrow; If not, he must die of starvation and sorrow. Says the ant to the cricket, “I’m your servant and friend, But we ants never borrow; we ants never lend. But tell me, dear cricket, did you lay nothing by When the weather was warm?” Quoth the cricket, “Not I! That I sang day and night, For all nature looked gay.” “You sang, Sir, you say? Go then,” says the ant, “and dance the winter away.” Thus ending, he hastily lifted the wicket, And out of the door turned the poor little cricket. Folks call this a fable. I’ll warrant it true: Some crickets have four legs, and some have two. adapted from Aesop’s Fables The Ant and the Cricket

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