Joyce in Class


Joyce is one of the most difficult authors. It is not easy to understand him so he is not usually in high school teachers’ lists. However, if you have a class who loves reading short stories, you can give it a try to Dubliners. I’m not saying that we can read all the stories but 2 years ago with a group of students I had the chance to read Eveline which is relatively easy to understand.

Unfortunately I can’t be in Dublin for Bloomsday activities. Yet thinking my professor at university who infected me with Joyce, I think I can do something here far away from Dublin to celebrate his genius in literature.

Here is a lesson plan for Eveline.

1. Give some background information about Dublin, Joyce, Dubliners, religion, family life. Otherwise; they won’t understand Eveline’s decision.

2. Pre-reading discussions. Group them and ask them to discuss the followings.

  • What are your expectations from the future?
  • Think about leaving your homeland and family. Will it be easy or difficult?
  • Discuss why people are afraid of leaving the things, people, places with whom they are safe? 
  • Should children sacrifice themselves to look after their parents and siblings?
  • Is it always easy to leave your home and/or country? In what situations can that be possible.

3. Prepare a word cloud for Eveline (from a summary you wrote or somewhere else) hand out the word clouds to the students and ask them to guess the story.

4. Most probably your students will need some vocab activities if they are not native speakers and a vocab exercise on some key words will help them understand the story.

After reading.

  1. Write a brief character sketch of Eveline, Mr Hill and Frank.
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of her going away?
  3. What do you think Frank and Buones Aires represent in the story?
  4. How does the memory of her mother effect her decision?
  5. What would have happened if Eveline had left her home? Organise your thoughts and write a short story.
  6. If you were Eveline, would you leave? Why/ Why not?
  7. You are shooting a film called ‘Eveline’. Who will be your cast? Choose a song for soundtrack. Give your reasons. Prepare a glogster poster for your film adding the song.
  8. Write a poem about the story.
  9. Create a slideshow with a short summary of the story, adding text and music.
  10. Draw scenes from the story, add the summary and create your movie.
  11. Adapt Eveline to 21st century and rewrite a short story with the same characters in your own city.

For more ideas visit here  and here and here and here.

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5 comments on “Joyce in Class
  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Joyce in Class | A Journey in TEFL --

  2. I love reading Joyce but I do believe it can be difficult for English language learners. However, I think these activities shed light on the topic and help the students to begin exploring topics before reading. I really enjoy the way the Dubliners paints a real portrait of humanity.

    • Yes, it is like a novel actually. I love the Dead very much. A student of mine said he started reading Joyce after we read Eveline in class. He is now studying English literature, at least he went there with an idea of Joyce. Unfortunately I can’t be very lucky every year to read as much as I did with his class.

  3. Hi Eva!
    Thank you for yet another wonderful and very useful idea in class!
    James Joyce is a great writer which students immediately love when they discover him.
    My favourite book of his is “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” – my mom got it for me on my birthday last year.
    I have not read “Eveline” yet, to tell you the truth – but once again, you have been my inspiration and I will read it as soon as possible!
    The ideas and questions you post are very interesting and are very good material for the book analysis.
    Thank you again Eva!
    How can we not admire you?
    Kindest regards,

    • Thank you so much Vicky for your endless support. ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ is the book my husband bought me when we were just friends as he knew I admire him. (a trick:) I guess)

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