ESL Sarah, Plain and Tall Discussion Topics

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are reading Patricia MacLachlan's 'Sarah, Plain and Tall' with ESL students, you have a wonderful opportunity to engage them in meaningful literary discussion. This lesson provides some topics to get you started.

Literature and ESL Students

Whether you teach an entire class of ESL students or have ESL students in a general reading class, you probably know that they can require extra support in accessing literature. Many students who are learning English have good conversational skills, but they might still need more scaffolding than other students with academic language.

Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall is a classic children's novel that deals with universal themes including loss, love, the importance of family, and what it means to deal with a major change. One of the best ways to ensure that your ESL students get as much as possible out of the text is to involve them in good discussions. The topics in this lesson will help ESL students activate their vocabularies and syntax while exercising critical thinking skills and making deep connections.

Personal Connection Topics

This section offers a series of discussion topics that will help ESL students connect personally to Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Which character in this novel do you have the most in common with, and why?

Ask others which character they feel the deepest connection to, and talk about your similarities and differences.

When have you have experienced a big change within your family?

Discuss the feelings you had when this happened, and think about how that helps you understand Anna's experience.

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