Thursday, July 6, 2017


One day I brought the short story “Eleven,” written by the American writer Sandra Cisneros, to my class to help my students practice their reading comprehension. One of the assignments I gave them was writing short stories about their past experiences, just as Cisneros did in “Eleven.”
 The students enjoyed reading the story, but most of them got stuck trying to write their own stories based on their life experiences. In order to get them started, I tried to motivate them by telling them some of my own past experiences. I told them that they could write about anything that had happened in their lives at any point, whether at school, home, or somewhere else. After listening to a few of my past experiences, they had an idea of what to write. However, they were still unsure and asked me to tell them more.
 The next day, I went to class with a story I had written about one of the experiences I had talked about the day before. The students were really excited to read it! They could relate to it because almost all of them had grown up in a similar culture. It appealed to them even more than Cisneros’ story. Once they finished reading, I asked them again to write their own, personal stories. This time, they did so wonderfully!
 To further stimulate their creativity and boost their interest, I wrote the second story about another incident which I had already told them about. As before, they expressed real interest in it! After that, they asked me nearly every day to give them some more stories based on my own experiences; after I had finished writing three stories, the idea of making them into a novella came to me.
 I told my students that I was going to turn my writings into a novella: the first three stories would be its first three chapters, with more chapters to come. My novella, which I chose to call “Innocence and Foolishness,” appealed to them so much that wherever they saw me they asked, “When’s the next chapter coming?”
 I used the chapters of “Innocence and Foolishness” to create different activities, so students not only practiced their reading skills, but also speaking, writing, and listening. They focused on vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling, sentence patterns, punctuation, and many other language-related topics.
 Though this novella contains many things about my life, I feel like I have left a lot out—unwritten and unspoken. I have never been able to put on paper exactly what I had gone through; it is just a kind of summary of my life, with a little bit of embellishment and creativity. Life is like a big ocean, with many wonderful, but sometimes scary things in it. It takes courage to open your life to others; at times, the task is beyond the capacity of words to express the full range of emotions inherent in all of us. “Innocence and Foolishness,” to me, is like a cemetery with graves of words in which I have buried some of my memories.
I hope that you enjoy the story and learn something new, and that it brings a positive change to your life.

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