ESL Questions About The Handmaid’s Tale

Hey there, ESL teachers! Are you looking for an exciting and thought-provoking piece of literature to discuss in your classrooms? Well, look no further than Margaret Atwood’s iconic dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This captivating tale has captured the attention of readers around the world with its powerful themes and gripping narrative. With its vivid portrayal of a totalitarian society and its exploration of gender roles, this novel offers a wealth of opportunities for engaging discussions and activities in your ESL classrooms. So, grab a cup of tea and let’s dive into the world of “The Handmaid’s Tale” together!

ESL Speaking Questions About The Handmaid’s Tale

Beginner ESL Questions about the Handmaid’s Tale

  1. What is the title of the book?
  2. Who is the author of the book?
  3. Can you name any characters from the book?
  4. What is the setting of the story?
  5. What is a handmaid?
  6. Why are handmaids important in this story?
  7. Who is Offred?
  8. What are the handmaids required to wear?
  9. What is the purpose of the handmaids’ red clothing and white bonnets?
  10. What is the main conflict in the story?
  11. What is the Republic of Gilead?
  12. What happened to the United States in the book?
  13. Why is the book considered dystopian fiction?
  14. What are some important themes explored in the book?
  15. How does the society in the book treat women?
  16. What is the Commander’s role in Gilead?
  17. What is the significance of the standing prayer in the book?
  18. What happens to disobedient handmaids?
  19. What is the significance of the phrase “Under His Eye”?
  20. How does the book end?

Intermediate ESL Questions about The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. What is the setting of The Handmaid’s Tale?
  2. Who is the author of The Handmaid’s Tale?
  3. What is the main character’s name in the book?
  4. What does “handmaid” mean?
  5. Describe the societal hierarchy in the book.
  6. What is the purpose of the handmaids in the book?
  7. Why is Offred separated from her family?
  8. What is the significance of Offred’s red cloak and white wings?
  9. What is the importance of the phrase “Under His Eye” in the story?
  10. How does the society in The Handmaid’s Tale control language?
  11. Discuss the themes of power and control in the book.
  12. What role do women play in the society of Gilead?
  13. What are some examples of rebellion or resistance in the story?
  14. Describe Offred’s relationships with the Commander, Serena Joy, and Nick.
  15. What is the significance of the Handmaid’s Tale being told in first-person narration?
  16. How does the story reflect ideas about feminism and women’s rights?
  17. Do you think the events in The Handmaid’s Tale could happen in real life? Explain your answer.
  18. What emotions or reactions did the book evoke in you?
  19. What lessons do you think readers can learn from The Handmaid’s Tale?
  20. Would you recommend The Handmaid’s Tale to others? Why or why not?
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Advanced ESL Questions about The Handmaid’s Tale

  • What are some major themes explored in The Handmaid’s Tale?
  • How does the author use symbolism in The Handmaid’s Tale?
  • Discuss the role of power in the novel.
  • What social commentary does The Handmaid’s Tale make about gender roles and oppression?
  • Explain the importance of the handmaids’ red attire in the story.
  • How does the author create a sense of tension and suspense throughout the novel?
  • What is the significance of the Commander’s relationship with Offred?
  • Discuss the role of religion in the society depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • What is the significance of the Handmaid Ceremony?
  • Describe the structure and organization of the Republic of Gilead.
  • What are some instances of rebellion or resistance against the regime in The Handmaid’s Tale?
  • Explain the concept of “gender essentialism” and how it is reflected in the novel.
  • Discuss the portrayal of motherhood in The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • What does the story suggest about the importance of language and communication?
  • Describe the character of Aunt Lydia and her role in the handmaids’ training.
  • How does the author depict the role of technology in The Handmaid’s Tale?
  • Discuss the significance of the epilogue in the novel.
  • What does the story suggest about the nature of identity and individuality?
  • Explain the concept of “dystopia” and how it applies to The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • Discuss the reactions and emotions that the novel evoked in you as a reader.
  • ESL Reading Activities About The Handmaid’s Tale

    Beginner ESL Activities About The Handmaid’s Tale

    The Handmaid’s Tale is a book written by Margaret Atwood. It is a story set in a future world where certain people called handmaids are assigned to bear children for wealthy families. The main character, Offred, is a handmaid who lives in a strict and oppressive society. In this society, women have no rights and are controlled by men. The handmaids are not allowed to read or write, and they are only valued for their ability to bear children. They wear specific clothing that identify them as handmaids. Offred’s life is filled with fear and uncertainty, as she tries to navigate this dystopian world. The book explores themes of power, oppression, and resilience.

    Vocabulary Word
    Definition
    Handmaid
    A woman who is assigned to bear children for a wealthy family.
    Wealthy
    Having a lot of money or possessions.
    Oppressive
    Causing someone to feel burdened or trapped.
    Society
    A group of people living together in a community.
    Rights
    Freedom or privileges that a person is entitled to.
    Controlled
    Regulated or guided by someone in authority.
    Read
    To understand written words by looking at them.
    Write
    To form words on a surface using a pen or pencil.
    Dystopian
    An imagined society that is undesirable or frightening.
    Resilience
    The ability to recover quickly from difficulties or challenges.

    Intermediate ESL Activities About the Handmaid’s Tale

    The Handmaid’s Tale is a thought-provoking novel written by Margaret Atwood. It is set in a dystopian future where the United States has become a religious dictatorship called Gilead. The story is narrated by a woman named Offred, who is a Handmaid. Handmaids are women assigned to wealthy families to bear children for them. The government justifies this arrangement by citing infertility problems and the need to ensure the continuation of the population. Offred’s life is strictly controlled and she has no freedom. She is separated from her family, forbidden to read or write, and constantly monitored. In this oppressive society, Handmaids are only valued for their reproductive abilities. They must conform to strict rules and are subjected to frequent ceremonies aimed at impregnating them. Offred uses her story to reflect on her past and express her desire for freedom.

    Vocabulary Word
    Definition
    thought-provoking
    causing one to think deeply or consider various perspectives
    dystopian
    a community or society characterized by human suffering, oppression, and a lack of freedom
    dictatorship
    a form of government where one person or a small group has absolute control and power
    Gilead
    the fictional country in which the novel is set
    Handmaid
    a woman assigned to bear children for wealthy families
    infertility
    the condition of being unable to conceive or produce offspring
    continuation
    the act of continuing or the state of being continued
    oppressive
    using power unjustly and cruelly; causing hardship or severe discomfort
    conform
    to comply with rules, standards, or expectations
    impregnating
    causing pregnancy in a woman

    Advanced ESL Activities About the Handmaid’s Tale

    The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood. Set in a not-too-distant future, the story takes place in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian society that has replaced the United States. The main character, Offred, is a handmaid, a woman assigned the role of providing children for the elite couples of the society. The novel explores themes such as oppression, feminism, and the importance of individual freedom. It is a thought-provoking and powerful story that challenges the reader to question the status quo and reflect on the fragile nature of human rights.

    In this advanced ESL activity, we will delve deeper into the vocabulary used in The Handmaid’s Tale. Below, you will find ten key vocabulary words that are related to the themes and plot of the novel. Take some time to read the paragraph above and identify these words as they are highlighted in bold. Then, use the table below to learn their meanings and further enhance your understanding of the novel:

    Vocabulary Word
    Definition
    dystopian
    a society characterized by poverty, oppression, or a lack of freedom
    totalitarian
    exercising complete control over people’s lives and freedoms
    Republic of Gilead
    the name of the fictional society in The Handmaid’s Tale
    handmaid
    a woman assigned the role of bearing children for others
    elite
    a select group or class of people considered superior in terms of power or wealth
    oppression
    the act of treating people cruelly, making them suffer, or limiting their freedoms
    feminism
    the belief in social, economic, and political equality between the sexes
    individual freedom
    the state of being able to make choices and act independently
    thought-provoking
    stimulating or causing one to think deeply and critically
    fragile
    easily damaged or destroyed

    Now that you have familiarized yourself with these key words, try to incorporate them into your discussions and written assignments about The Handmaid’s Tale. Understanding these words will not only deepen your comprehension of the novel, but also enrich your English vocabulary overall.

    ESL Writing Activities About The Handmaid’s Tale

    Beginner ESL Writing Questions about The Handmaid’s Tale

    1. Describe the main character, Offred, and her role in the story.
    2. What is Gilead? Explain its significance in the novel.
    3. How does the government control the Handmaids?
    4. Discuss the theme of power and control in The Handmaid’s Tale.
    5. Can you compare the society in The Handmaid’s Tale to the society in your own country? What similarities and differences do you see?

    Intermediate ESL Writing Questions about The Handmaid’s Tale

    1. Explore the role of gender in The Handmaid’s Tale. How does the society in the novel reinforce traditional gender roles?
    2. Analyze the symbolism of the handmaid’s clothing and its impact on the characters’ identity.
    3. Discuss the significance of names in the novel. Why are the Handmaids given new names?
    4. How does Margaret Atwood use language and writing style to convey the oppressive atmosphere in The Handmaid’s Tale?
    5. Compare and contrast the world in The Handmaid’s Tale with other dystopian novels or films. What similarities and differences can you identify?

    Advanced ESL Writing Questions about The Handmaid’s Tale

    1. To what extent does The Handmaid’s Tale criticize and comment on real-world issues concerning women’s rights, reproductive rights, and religious extremism?
    2. Explore the role of religion in the novel. How is it used to justify the oppressive regime of Gilead?
    3. Discuss the motif of storytelling and its significance in The Handmaid’s Tale. How does Offred use storytelling to cope with her situation?
    4. Analyze Atwood’s portrayal of female friendship and solidarity in the novel. How do characters like Offred and Ofglen defy the system?
    5. How does the ending of The Handmaid’s Tale leave room for interpretation? What are your thoughts on the ambiguity of the conclusion?

    ESL Roleplay Activities about The Handmaid’s Tale

    1. Character Interviews: In pairs, students can take on the roles of different characters from The Handmaid’s Tale and interview each other. They can prepare a list of questions related to the story, such as their character’s background, motivations, or experiences. This activity will encourage students to practice their speaking and listening skills while exploring the different perspectives of the characters.

    2. Debate: Divide the class into groups and assign them different controversial topics related to the themes in The Handmaid’s Tale, such as women’s rights, government control, or individual freedom. Each group will prepare arguments and present them in a debate format, with some students taking the role of Handmaids defending their rights, and others acting as Commanders arguing in favor of strict control. This activity will develop students’ critical thinking, persuasive speaking, and listening skills.

    3. News Reporter: Students can imagine themselves as news reporters covering the events in The Handmaid’s Tale. In groups, they can create news segments or write articles discussing the current situation of Handmaids, exploring the social and political aspects depicted in the story. This activity will enhance students’ writing, speaking, and collaborative skills as they work together to create an engaging news report.

    4. Alternate Ending: After reading or discussing The Handmaid’s Tale, students can work in pairs or small groups to create an alternate ending for the story. They can reimagine different possibilities for the characters and the society they live in, allowing their creativity to flourish. Each group will present their version of the ending and explain their choices. This activity will encourage students’ critical thinking, speaking, and listening skills as they analyze the story and offer their own interpretations.

    5. Time Travel Meeting: Students can imagine that they have traveled back in time to meet Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, before she started writing the book. In pairs or small groups, they can prepare questions to ask Atwood about her inspiration, writing process, and the themes she wanted to explore. They can then have a role play where one student acts as Atwood and the other(s) ask their questions. This activity will engage students’ speaking, listening, and research skills as they delve into the author’s perspective and gain a deeper understanding of the book.

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