Setting the Stage for “Mama and her Bank Account”


Trying to make lemonade
Trying to make lemonade (Naomi’s Photos)

I actually remember the book “I remember Mama” by Kathyrn Forbes very well, even though I read it when I was about 10 years old. Two things about it left a deep impression on me.

There was a part there about one of the children being hospitalized and how Mama took a job as a cleaning lady at the hospital so she could spend time with the child. I clearly remember how absolutely horrified I was that parents weren’t allowed to be beside their sick children (I later encountered this in Angela’s Ashes and learned that this was common here too, many years ago). Even as a mother I still can’t fathom how the medical establishment ever came up with such an idea.

The other thing that impressed me very much as a child was that the woman had written such a successful book about her own mother! No dramatic adventures in far off lands, no detectives or magical lions. It was an eye opener!

This year I’m going to teach a really simplified short version of the story to “seriously struggling” deaf and hard of hearing learners in the 11th grade, going for the lowest level of our matriculation exams, known as the three-point level. The hospital scene is out, by the way. Just as well!

These are students who have a lot of trouble dealing with texts in L1. Long texts frighten them in any language. My approach is to give the students an “anchor” . The following activity helps them “visualise” the first two paragraphs of the story. Not only will they know who is whom and where the story takes place, but those screens shots from the movie trailer will help them understand the time period. I already know which of my students is going to have a fit of laughter about those “old” clothes!

Most importantly, the first two paragraphs of the story should now be fairly easy for the students to read. If these students feel they can’t deal with the beginning of the story, then all is lost…

Here is the exercise:

Mama Bank Pre Reading

2 thoughts on “Setting the Stage for “Mama and her Bank Account””

  1. Hi Nomi,
    I just want to acknowledge your creativity! I am a retired special ed counsellor, and I teach English privately. I love your posts on Etni, and I want you to know that! The thought you put into your work is obvious, and thanks for sharing it.

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