20 A Day at the Beach
"Max Liebermann 'Strandszene mit Strandkörben und Spaziergängern' (1905)" by pittigliani2005 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Beach culture ⧫ vacation ⧫ leisure activities ⧫ description
This lesson can work well for topics such as hobbies/leisure activities or travel that are common in many college-level foreign language programs. The activities in this lesson invite students to think about their experiences at the beach in general and reflect on their understanding of “beach culture” in both their countries and the target country. Students are not only asked to imagine themselves and their friends/family doing various activities at the beach, they also get to experience these activities using all their five senses and write a journal entry summarizing their day at the beach.
The first set of activities lay a foundation for students to become familiar with relevant vocabulary and phrases as they think through their own ideas about the beach. These activities can be done as individuals, in pairs or small groups. The instructor will have discretion to decide on what works best for their students. The students will then analyze target language texts (in this case, an image and a video) that help them contextualize their vocabulary and reflect on the social, cultural and historical aspects of the texts and topic. Finally, students will apply this knowledge by first imagining themselves at the beach and exploring the aesthetics of the beach using all their senses and later (as a homework assignment) describing this experience in the form of a journal entry.
- Can describe the beach and its surroundings using all five senses.
- Can reflect on and compare the beach culture between their country and the target country.
- Can describe and aesthetically experience various beach activities
- Can write a journal entry in the past tense describing these experiences.
Experiencing the Beach
Students can be given a few minutes to complete this activity (individually) and write down their ideas first, before discussing these answers as a class. This will make sure everyone has some notes to refer back to as they gain global comprehension (as a class) of the beach and make conceptual associations, habits and activities that are common at the beach.
A. Think about the following questions and write down your notes.
- What do you understand about the concept of the “beach”?
- Have you ever been to the beach? If yes, which beach? If no, what not?
- What are you likely to see at the beach?
- What are you likely to find at the beach?
- Which activities are you likely to do at the beach?
- What do people generally bring/carry to the beach?
- Do you plan to visit a beach in the (near) future? Which beach?
Conceptualizing the Beach
This video helps students (re)familiarize themselves with helpful phrases and vocabulary and can help intermediate learners who may need support with phrasing and contextualizing the vocabulary discussed in the previous activity
Watch the following Video by Anja and write down important phrases and vocabulary in the table (these include, phrases/verbs, vocabulary/nouns and adjectives).
B. Compare your answers/ notes with a partner and discuss the following questions.
- Which phrases/vocabulary do you find particularly interesting? Why?
- Do you notice any similarities/ differences in your answers?
- Has anything in your discussion surprised you? Why?
Analyzing the Beach in the Image
Students analyze the image and begin to explore social and cultural meanings in the text. They also speculate on the historical setting and compare this historical representation to contemporary beach culture (Strandkultur) in their contexts of interest.
C. Look at the image and discuss the following questions.
- What occurs to you when you look at the picture? Where do you look first? Why?
- Who is in the image, what are they wearing, and what is their appearance/ how do they look? Is that typical in Germany?
- What are the people in the picture doing? What are they looking at and how are they feeling?
- How does this image compare with your descriptions about the beach in previous activities?
D. In small groups, compare and discuss your answers.
- Which descriptions and explanations do you find interesting? Why?
- Try to guess the time/period that this image represents. Explain your answer.
- When you think about the beach culture in the US what associations come to mind? How do these representations of German beach culture compare with the beach culture in the US (or in your country in case it’s different)?
Applying Knowledge: A Day at the Beach
This activity invites students to begin experiencing the beach and explore the aesthetics of beach culture and activities. First, students will look for images by artists in the German-speaking world that represent different cultural aspects. Students can then imagine themselves in those spaces and describe their experience. They can make short notes while doing this activity.
Look for an image of a beach by an artist in the German-speaking world. Imagine you are at this beach (represented in the image) with some of your friends or family members. You are now standing (or sitting/ lying) at the beach. Do the following…
- First describe what you see, feel and hear.
- Who is present? Write their names and explain if they are friends or family.
- What do you have with you? E.g., items, food, drinks, etc.
- Which activities are you doing?
- Describe the atmosphere at this beach.
After this activity, students can be put in pairs or groups and asked to compare and share their experiences at the beach. As a homework activity, the instructor can ask students to write a journal entry about their day at the beach in which they describe the beach and the type of activities they took part in.