ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Hronopoulos, S. (2005) Some considerations for designing activism-related materials. TESOL MWIS Newsletter, 18(2).

August 20th, 2007 by Dave · No Comments

Activism-related materials provide linguistic stimulation and expose our learners to a range of critical issues. As educators, we owe it to our learners not only to improve their English competence but also to empower them with knowledge to make them responsible citizens who can create a just, humane, and violence-free world.

The general apathy that I observed among my learners regarding global issues was a motivating factor that led to my decision to inject some activism-related materials into the classroom.

I discovered that my learners’ apathy was a result of not being exposed to global issues, and that once their attention is drawn to such issues, they express not only interest but also appreciation as their worldview broadens.

It must be emphasized that when we create materials our aim should be to broaden our learners’ horizons and to improve their language abilities. We must never lose sight of this. Our goal should never be to impose upon students our own personal opinions and politics.

Present materials that contain the facts and leave it up to the students to make their own interpretations. You should always encourage your learners to question everything, even the materials you present to them. Fostering healthy, inquisitive, and independent critical thinking skills will serve our learners well beyond their educational life.

Our aim is not to depress our learners but to illustrate that positive change can be achieved if people unite and take action. For this reason it is imperative that the materials we choose to use in the classroom demonstrate how a different world is possible if people, especially young people, band together to tackle an injustice instead of sitting by the sidelines with the belief that they do not have the power to effect change.

In conclusion, well-thought-out and appropriately designed activism-based materials provide numerous benefits: They can engage the students’ attention; enable students to work on all four macro skills; and empower learners with knowledge and sow the seeds that can lead to positive change in the world. We have a moral obligation to bring these issues to our learners, but we should always be careful to design lessons and tasks that attend to our learners’ language needs.

* Hronopoulos also discusses the different ways activism-related materials can help develop various language skills. In addition, she stresses the importance of layout and appearance in material development.

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