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Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Message in a Bottle (and other materials from Yes! Magazine)

November 1st, 2013 by Dave · 3 Comments


YES! Magazine just added a great new activity based on the above picture to their curriculum section. It would work well in an ESL or EFL classroom. It’s simple, it requires critical thinking, and it makes a great speaking or writing prompt.

First, show students the above picture and ask them what they notice. Then, ask them what questions they have. Next let them know some facts about the photo. You can get more facts at the YES! website, but I’ve included the caption and a few of the facts below:

caption: Donations of vinegar, lemons, water and a milky antacid are collected at several points along the edge of Gezi Park on June 2, to treat victims of tear gas.

The Turkish government recently announced its plans to raze nine-acre Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a new shopping mall. In response to the announcement, tens of thousands of protestors, who became known as the Gezi Park Resistance Movement, gathered to protect the park. Riot police evicted demonstrators using tear gas grenades, water cannons, and violence after the government banned demonstrations in Taksim Square. Supporters of the Gezi Park Resistance Movement started a Twitter hashtag campaign, and tear-gas-readiness supply donations quickly came in.

There is also a link to reading in the NY Times and a photo essay from Yes! Magazine. The lesson even includes information on how to organize a protest from Occupy Together.

Finally, the lesson concludes with some discussion questions that could easily lead into extension activities or group projects:

  1. A protest is an expression of objection to events or situations. What do you think of protestors? Have you ever protested for or against something? If so, how did you plan or organize your protest?
  2. Parks are important to cities and neighborhoods. Do you have a favorite park? How would you feel if you learned that it was being demolished to become a shopping mall or an office building? What might you do to try to save it?
  3. What is a ‘Twitter hashtag campaign’? What other social media campaigns have been used successfully? How do you use social media? How might you use social media to advocate for a cause?

This could easily be used as a standalone activity, or it could be incorporated into a larger unit. The topic is an engaging one, and as a prompt it would elicit great conversation or writing. And be sure to check out the rest of the curriculum section, the charts and infographics, and the other resources for teachers as well.

Tags: blog · global issues activities · global issues resources · human rights · pictures · politics · protests · reading · speaking · Turkey · visual prompts · writing

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