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(c) Alexander Sokol, Riga, 2000, contacts@thinking-approach.org

Preliminary Points
How to Choose a Text
Functions of Tasks
Types of Tasks

Texts Samples
Tasks to the Texts
Students’ Works

Students' Responses

SECRET SLOB by J D Salinger

Training 1 - Content Development 1

Characters analysis (The Full Scheme Mode)





Holden had problems at school. He went to several schools and had problems with his parents because they wanted him to be good at school and he’s pissed off with all that stuff. All the phony guys all around him. He was different from most of the guys at his age. He was thinking about things, he was interpreting things. Others usually don’t. At least, not the way he does.

So, he was some kind of an outsider everywhere. At every school. He was one because of his being different. People don’t usually like the ones who are different, who are not understandable for them.



‘Well, that’s boring – all that stuff.’ Holden is bored with the world.

But during the book (actually, during these Christmas holidays) Holden is changing quite a lot. He’s learning to appreciate things, to see the good sides of things.

I liked the end of the book, you know, this situation with his sister, when he had these great future plans concerning going to a place far away and to work there. At this point something got changed. His point of view, you know. When Phoebe wanted to come with him he saw that it isn’t very easy – just to leave if he wants to. He starts feeling some kind of responsibility – he’s not alone.



I think this feature of Holden’s character concerning seeing things in different ways is going to become a clear-cut feature.

I don’t say that he’s going to be an absolute optimist. I guess he will definitely not. But he will look at people from different angles. And see not juts bad sides of someone’s character.


Formulation of Problems (The Contradiction Model, The Ideality Model, The Problem Situation Model, etc)


Problem 1 (Stradlater’s) – How can I make Holden agree to write a composition for me?


Problem 2 (Holden’s) – How can I keep more or less normal relationships with Stradlater and not go against my moral principles (i.e., do him a favour the way he wants)


Contradiction of Feature: I have to agree to write a composition for him in order not to spoil the relationships, and I have to refuse to write a composition in order not to go against my moral principles.


The Ideal Final Result: Relationships are not spoiled and at the same time Holden does not have to go against his principles.



What could be bad if Holden refused to solve the problem? What could be good? (Contradiction Model)



Stradlater is stronger, so Holden can get beaten;

Holden reputation among people may suffer as Stradlater who is a cool guy may ruin it if their relationship breaks up



Holden won’t do what he doesn’t want to (won’t waste time for ‘a goddam composition’);

He will demonstrate Stradlater that he’s not ready to do everything he asks;


And if he agreed?



Holden will have to do what he doesn’t want to;

He will be angry with himself for inability to demonstrate Stradlater that he’s not ready t do everything he asks;



Holden won’t suffer physically;

Holden’s reputation among people at Pency will rise;

He will get something to do for the night;

Training 2 - Translation assessment (The Main Model, The Full Scheme Model, The Contradiction Model, The Resource Model, The Problem Situation Model, The Problem Solution Model)



Task 1. Compare the original text with its translation into Russian.

Find some places in the translation you find successful and those you find rather weak.

Is it possible to say that successful places are good solutions of some problems (try to formulate them) and weak places are bad solutions of certain problems? (try to formulate these ones, too)


Most students still kept to comparing words and phrases3.

It gave us a chance to return to various linguistic levels and see how some features of an element of one level in the source text can be compensated at another level in the target text. In order to answer this question students were asked to build a hierarchy of linguistic levels and look for examples illustrating compensation of features at different levels.


Another common conclusion students came to could be summarized as follows – Russian slang was different and often softer than English. They also managed to find the cause of this – the translation was made in the 60s. Thus, students discovered another type of requirement to the target text - cultural background.


Task 2. Make a translation adaptation trying to take account of as many different requirements to the target text as possible.





1.        Любитель внешнего лоска

2.        На мне все еще была моя красная охотничья шапка, задом наперед. Ужасно она мне нравилась, эта шапка.

3.        Особого удовольствия я не испытывал. Вечно он просил сделать ему огромное одолжение. Эти красивые ребята считают себя пупом земли и вечно просят сделать им огромное одолжение. (…) Чудаки, право.

4.        Мне надо к понедельнику прочесть чуть ли не сто страниц по истории. Не напишешь ли ты за меня английское сочинение? Мне несдобровать, если я в понедельник ничего не сдам, поэтому и прошу. Напишешь?

5.        Ну не насмешка ли? Честное слово, насмешка.

6.        Этот чертов Хартселл считает, что ты в английском собаку съел, а он знает, что мы с тобой вместе живем.

7.        Вот от такого отношения у меня кишки переворачивает.

1.        Свинья в душе.

2.        Я все еще был в моей красной охотничьей кепке, козырьком назад. Больно она меня прикалывала.

3.        Особого рвения я не испытывал. Вечно он просилоказать ему огромную услугу. Эти красавчики считают себя самыми крутыми и вечно просят оказать им огромную услугу. Приколисты, тоже мне! (=Вот придурки!)

4.        Мне надо к понедельнику прочесть чуть ли не сто страниц по истории. Ты не хочешь написать за меня сочинение по английскому. Мне ведь голову оторвут (=мне кранты), если я ничего не сдам в понедельник, вот я и прошу. Напишешь, а?

5.        И это он не издевается? Как же!

6.        Этот придурок Хартселл считает, что ты ас в английском (=что у тебя суперский английский), а он знает, что мы с тобой соседи по комнате. / Эта свинья Хартселл считает, что ты в английском сечешь, а он в курсе, что…

7.        Вот от такого отношения меня тошнит.


Task 3. Debate4


One of the questions arisen among students during the previous activity was connected with the translator’s right to change the original. Thus we decided to debate the following resolution  – ‘translator is allowed to change the text of the original’.

The activity turned out very successful. Besides mastering the language and thinking skills, students got acquainted with main concepts of translation studies (mainly introduced by me in after-the-debate analysis) and an opportunity to develop a number of public speaking and debating skills. 



Training 3 - Screening (The Full Scheme Model, The Ideality Model, The Resource Model, The Contradiction Model, The Problem Situation Model, The Problem Solution Model)


Lesson 1.


Students had to work in groups for about 10 minutes. They were free to approach the task as they wished. A general problem was that most students thought they had to think of screening in a linear way – starting from the beginning of the text, then going to the middle part and so on. When dealing with this type of task for the first time, it is very difficult to grasp that sequence is just one of the features of a text and not necessarily the main. Thus the ideas of screening were mainly chaotic and students found it problematic to come to common grounds with each other. They basically employed the Trial and Error method which can hardly bring to any result if we deal with complex problems where the number of variants one may consider is too high. At this point it is a high time students were offered a technological approach as its importance can be duly evaluated. Students understand that a thinking process should start with the formulation of the problem. What do they want to show? How do they want to show this? What reaction do they want from the audience? What resources can be employed – with the emphasis on the additional resources provided by the cinematic genre.

At the end of the lesson the groups hand in their scripts.


Lesson 2.

The scripts from the first lesson are handed out. Students work in groups. The task was to analyze the scripts from the point of view of the directors5. They have to make a decision if they want to screen the given version or not. In both cases an explanation must be provided. If their answer is positive, they have to point out what are the recommendation you want to give to the script-writers, what must be improved. In the opposite case it is important to mention what hasn’t been done? The result of their work is getting prepared to interview the script writers. Later on (after the interview) a written response will have to be written.6


Lesson 3.

Interviewing script-writers.

2 teams – directors and script-writers. Then they change the roles.


Some time is given for preparation – groups work upon the script they got last lesson. Then they ask questions to another team to find out why they decided to do like this or that. At the end they should make a decision if they are going to film this.

(This task provided an extensive practice on the first group of strong thinking skills – Model Vision of the World – as well as put students into the situation of discussing choices which are directly connected with problem-solving.)



Written task


Critical response to the film (it aims at summarizing classroom work and gives a chance to think to weaker students. I can see how much was incorporated and how technologically they approach things)


Script 17


Problems solved by students:

·         How to demonstrate Holden’s point of view if Holden is an active character himself? (diary and visual effects)

·         How to transform those moments which are monologues in the text? (Year Book; whistling; razor; etc.)

·         How to organise Holden’s comments if it’s not a voice-over? (diary and sequence of scenes)

·         How to make the audience pay attention to the characters behaviour in the can which is more important then their talk?



Purpose: to show relationships between Holden and Stradlater. From Holden’s point of view.


Holden is writing his diary. Ackley is around disturbing Holden. Some time later Ackley leaves, Holden keeps writing, murmuring something about Ackley (about Ackley being a secret slob and all). He remembers the situation with Stradlater in the can. Holden sees the Year Book (close-up) à thoughts about the past holidays when he was at home and showed the photo to his parents à their reaction, ‘Who is THAT boy?’ (…) He keeps writing murmuring things about Stradlater. 

In the can.

Holden’s sitting there observing his fingernails and enjoying himself and his hunting hat. Stradlater’s shaving. Razor (close-up). Stradlater is whistling…

Holden keeps writing his diary. Thoughts about Stradlater – his whistling. 

The atmosphere is the can is sleepy.

Music – something that doesn’t distract. Something monotonous that makes people yawn… (This shows that both characters are not ver interested in each other). The music gets louder than conversation. So, we see that guys are talking but we don’t hear anything. So, the emphasis is on behaviour. Stradlater finishes shaving and is observing himself in the mirror. He’s enjoying himself. Suddenly Stradlater becomes ‘active’ – he’s talking about his composition.

Holden is listening but he isn’t dying to do Stradlater a favor somehow… Stradlater leaves the can keeping whistling something and Holden keeps sitting on the washbowl. ..

Holden closes his diary. Ackley comes again.


Other scripts


Problems and solutions:

·         How to organise Holden’s comments if it’s not a voice-over? (Solution: Holden is writing a letter to his young sister Phoebe)

·         How to show that Stradlater is in love with himself?

(Solution: contrast with Holden – can scene – Stradlater is naked above the belt, T-shirt on his shoulder,  he’s always watching himself in the mirror while talking to Holden and then uses his T-shirt instead of a towel)



1 – Here I do not illustrate all the tasks by excerpts from students’ works. There are several reasons: a) not all tasks had to be performed in a written form, on the contrary the output was usually spoken. b) this type of tasks has already been illustrated; c) it is not necessary to aim at doing all the tasks with a given group of students. In practice you should stop working with the text much earlier than its resources are exhausted, otherwise your students will lose all the motivation they have no matter how high it can be. 

2  – this is not an example of a successful work in terms of traditional assessment. Students did not really consider many factors determining who Holden was and who he may become. They started expressing their ideas instead of trying to follow the format of the task – a very typical feature of better students. However, despite all the above mentioned drawbacks, there is one obvious advantage. While performing the task, students prepare studying material for their future. They will learn on their own mistakes which turns out more efficient and motivating (they almost always prefer to work upon something written by peers than designed by a teacher)   

3 - it was not for the first time students had to deal with translation assessment. For the comments after the first discussion see the samples of students’ works upon ‘The Little Prince (under development)’)


4 – one more advantage of the debate activity that it is a good introduction to contradiction activity on the given theme. After debate it is easier to formulate contradictions.(not mentioning that it’s an extensive training not only in language but also in public speaking skills)

5 - this activity obviously comprises elements of another training – co-authoring.

6 – tasks which employ students’ works prove quite successful. They like to work with the material written by their peers and they know that they don’t write just for the teacher. Moreover, tasks are more efficient in this case as they are being considered from various angles.


7 – it’s obvious that the script is not finished and a lot of places are not explained very well. However, it’s necessary to remember that tasks are good as long as they motivate students. We don’t aim at producing excellent results, our purpose is to teach students methodology, and thus we are more interested in the process.




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21 Nov 2000