Unity in Diversity
Stephanie Lawson / Irini Douladellis

ESL Activities: 7.What is Beauty?

Theme: Migration and refugees

Key Learning Area:
English - Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE)

Age Group: Secondary Lower (13-14) - Secondary Middle (15-16)

Resource Type: Handouts

Stimulus Name: Beauty

Fredi and Stephen

Teaching Strategies

1. Distribute and read Student Handout- ‘My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world’ as a shared reading experience. Discuss the folktale. Questions to ask might include:

• How do we know the mother loved her daughter?

• How do we know the daughter loved her mother?

• What idea (value) about “being beautiful” did Varya demonstrate in the story?

• Is the story similar to any other story you know? Which ones?

Highlight the fact that the people were only looking on the outside, for physical characteristics but the daughter knew the beauty within.

NOTE: The story is a Russian folktale, but it has many other forms across cultures, example the Ugly Duckling, Beauty and the Beast, the Frog and the Princess. These stories or others could be read to students to show that many cultures around the world have stories about the importance of getting to know the ‘beauty within’ rather than making judgements about them on the basis of external appearances.

2. Ask the students to identify a ‘beautiful’ person like Varya’s mother in their lives and list some reasons why they are beautiful to them at the bottom of the student handout.

3. Ask students to take their completed handout and sit in two circles, facing a partner. On a signal ask one student to talk to his/her partner for 60 seconds about their person and why they are beautiful to them. (Partners listen only.)

4. At the end of the minute, change roles and give the second student 60 seconds to speak.

5. After both partners have spoken, ask the inside circle to move 3 places to the left. Each student will now have a different partner. Repeat rotation as many times as you like.

6. Brainstorm generalisations about the qualities that make someone ‘beautiful’ in the way that Varya’s mother was beautiful. Ask students if they can identify who taught them their ideas about ways of ‘being beautiful’.

NOTE: Ideas (values) about ‘being beautiful’ are suggested by many sources, including family, friends, peers, community, school, cultural heritages, society, media. Some ideas are accepted, some are adapted to better fit personal beliefs, and some are rejected.


7. Conclude the lesson by drawing on student discussions to establish that families can be a strong influence on beliefs and values, such as our ideas about what is beautiful.

Worksheets to download
‘My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world’ (PDF)

Related Resources
ESL Activities 1: My Friends and Peers
ESL Activitie
s 2: My Feelings About Myself
ESL Activities 3: Cultural heritage
ESL Activities 4: Different culture
ESL Activities 5: Iceberg
ESL Activities 6: Pride and Prejudice
ESL Activities 8: Who Am I?
ESL Activities 9: Journeys From Afar
ESL Activities 10: Our Paths to Australia
ESL Activities 11: A Mixed Bag of Apples

ESL Activities 12: Victims of Culture

Copyright Acknowledgement

Activities developed by teachers at Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre, NSW


Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre

©2005 Drift1