When people hate people – lesson plan for B1+

It wasn’t until recently when I finally decided to put my thoughts on paper and create a lesson which may raise awareness of some serious issues such as racism, civil wars, ultranationalism or discrimination. I did some research and found a couple of stunning and moving songs and a video that seem to be relevant to the subject. Besides, the materials provide the listener with some knowledge of history which, in my opinion, isn’t really taught at school.

 

You can open and print the worksheet here: When people hate people – worksheet 

Part 1

Start the lesson with some basic facts about Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” song.

“Strange Fruit” song was originally a poem written in 1937 by Jewish-American teacher and writer Abel Meeropol. Two years later, a famous American jazz singer, Billie Holiday performed her version of the song.

More about the song: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/billie-holiday/strange-fruit and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Fruit

Next, ask the students to listen to the song and complete the lyrics.

“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday

1  Listen and fill in the gaps with one word.

Southern 1 …………… bear strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

2 …………… bodies swinging in the southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

 

Pastoral scene of the gallant south

The bulging 3 …………… and the twisted mouth

Scent of magnolias, sweet and 4 ……………

Then the sudden 5 …………… of burning flesh

 

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck

For the 6 …………… to gather, for the wind to suck

For the 7 ……………  to rot, for the trees to drop

Here is a strange and 8 …………… crop

Answers: 1 trees   2 Black   3 eyes   4 fresh   5 smell   6 rain   7 sun   8 bitter

 

The song makes a good opportunity to teach some new words, so have the students do the next activity.

 

2   Find the words in the lyrics and try to guess their meaning from the context. Then match the words with their definitions.

1 pastoral scene – ……….                                               a) a big black bird with an unpleasant cry

2 bulging – ……….                                                             b) to pull something in order to remove it

3 flesh – ……….                                                                  c) a pleasant and idyllic scene which is likely to be seen in the country

4 poplar – ……….                                                               d) a tall, straight, fast-growing tree

5 crow – ……….                                                                  e) body

6 to pluck – ……….                                                            f) to decay; to decompose

7 to rot – ……….                                                                g) sticking out

8 root – ……….                                                                   h) the part of a plant which grows down into the earth

Answers: 1 c   2 g   3 e   4 d   5 a   6 b   7 f   8 h

 

After completing the lyrics and teaching new words, it’s time for a short discussion. Tell your students to imagine the picture the song depicts and say what the “strange fruit” represents. Ask them where, when and why such a horrible story could have taken place. (

Lynching in the south of the USA turned a peak at the turn of the XX century but continued there for years. The great majority of victims were black people who were hanged for a variety of reasons. Many times, the victims broke no laws but were lynched out of jealousy, hatred or religious difference. Sometimes lynchings were public spectacles. “Strange Fruit” became one of the most powerful protest songs against racism in America. You can find more information here: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/billie-holiday/strange-fruit

Part 2

Tell the students that we leave America for Europe to focus on the tragedy of the Balkans during the civil war of the 1990s. We want to look at the conflict through the prism of the story of Yugoslavian Romeo and Juliet.
Before the students watch the video, encourage them to predict the plot of the story. Write their suggestions on the board. After watching the video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkBfuOV5ttg ask the learners to compare their predictions with the real story.

3  You will watch a short documentary showing the story of Yugoslavian Romeo and Juliet. Before you watch, try to guess what the story is about.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Then, if necessary, let them watch it again and complete the major facts about the story of Bosko and Admira.
More on that story: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/bosnia-herzegovina/articles/the-heartbreaking-story-of-bosnias-own-romeo-and-juliet/

 

4  Watch the video again and complete the text below with the words in the box.

Christian       die             escape       war       dead      symbol     world     seven     lesson       love

 

In 1993, Bosko and Admira found themselves on either side of an ethnic 1) …..………. : Bosko was a Serbian 2) …..………., Admira was a Bosnian Muslim. Their peoples were fighting, but they were in 3) …..……….. . When the civil war started, they tried to 4) …..……….. from sieged Sarajevo, but never managed to leave the city. Instead, they were shot 5) …..……….. on Vrbanja Bridge and their bodies were left there untouched for 6) …..……….. days. The young people didn’t care about the divisions of the war, but they were killed because of them. Bosko and Admira became a 7) …..……….. of the unity of love. In Sarajevo, every citizen has a bullet with their name on it. Some people were hit, some people were not. More than 13.000 would 8) …..……….., including Bosko and Admira. Their story offers a 9) …..……….. for all divided people today as religious tensions rise around the 10) …..………… .

Answers: 1 war   2 Christian   3 love   4 escape   5 dead   6 seven   7 symbol   8 die   9 lesson   10 world

Part 3

To finish the lesson with a good message, show the students this famous quotation by Eleanor Roosevelt and try to elicit its meaning.

 

Last but not least, let your students listen to James Blunt’s ‘No Bravery” which is an anti-war song with powerful lyrics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh41Wxez9PE

There are children standing here,

Arms outstretched into the sky,

Tears drying on their face.

He has been here.

Brothers lie in shallow graves.

Fathers lost without a trace.

A nation blind to their disgrace,

Since he’s been here.

 

And I see no bravery,

No bravery in your eyes anymore.

Only sadness.

(x2)

Only sadness

 

Houses burnt beyond repair.

The smell of death is in the air.

A woman weeping in despair says,

He has been here.

Tracer lighting up the sky.

It’s another families’ turn to die.

A child afraid to even cry out says,

He has been here.

 

And I see no bravery,

No bravery in your eyes anymore.

Only sadness.

(x2)

 

There are children standing here,

Arms outstretched into the sky,

But no one asks the question why,

He has been here.

Old men kneel to accept their fate.

Wives and daughters cut and raped.

A generation drenched in hate.

Says, he has been here.

 

And I see no bravery,

No bravery in your eyes anymore.

Only sadness.

 

And I see no bravery,

No bravery in your eyes anymore.

 

And I see no bravery,

No bravery in your eyes anymore.

Only sadness.

(x2)

Only sadness

 

 

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