ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Anderson, G. G. (1996) Global issues in the university ESL classroom. The Language Teacher, 20(11), 20-25.

August 19th, 2007 by Dave · No Comments

Beginning university students may never have been encouraged to think about global issues before. More importantly, university graduates might never have the chance again. Widespread ignorance of global issues among university freshmen is hardly surprising, but it can be cured. As an EFL university teacher, I feel responsible for demonstrating a meaningful connection between my students’ lives and issues of global significance.

Besides the choice of which global issues to cover, other decisions are also best left to learners. My students create a foundation that covers the basic issues of how the course will be run. Students often plan to reject tests, research a small number of global topics deeply, and decide their final grade themselves. With students making such plans independently, they discover the intrinsic importance of human rights or environmental issues they choose to study. Another way to be sure of the quality of their course is through various forms of continual feedback. Encouraging students to make these decisions demands that we teachers trust our students. Students empowered to create a peaceful, tolerant, and sustainable environment in the community of their classroom are naturally better prepared to create the same environment in the world itself.

Students who ponder and accept the repercussions of their choices will naturally make better choices.

Besides the choice of which global issues to cover, other decisions are also best left to learners. My students create a foundation that covers the basic issues of how the course will be run. Students often plan to reject tests, research a small number of global topics deeply, and decide their final grade themselves.

A teacher can grant students power by showing the positive aspects of interconnectedness — positive in the sense that a single person’s actions can be felt around the world by many others.

Those students taught to think critically learn how to listen better, read more carefully, pay closer attention, and react more knowledgeably to media, government, and commercial propaganda. Students seek alternative sources of facts and ideas. They question their role, their country’s role, and the role of business interests in the destruction of the world. They challenge their teacher, themselves, and others to provide solutions to world problems.

I seek to illuminate the positions that the mainstream media, government, and commerce avoid.

A good textbook, such as that of Elder & Carr (1987), Peaty (1995), or Sokolik (1993) provides the most convenient and useful way to teach global issues.

Employing a textbook’s units as workbenches, with libraries, databases, and networks as tools, students can delve deeply into issues that interest them. Beyond the textbooks themselves, presentations, debates, poster sessions, research papers, action plans, campaigns, demonstrations, and field trips can help students become aware, knowledgeable, and worldly.

Retrieved from http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/96/nov/univ.html on August 19, 2007

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