In a previous post I mentioned how great my first new debate class went because we just talked and covered interesting issues. Well, I’ve kept at it. Every lesson has started with an audio or listening just to give students some cultural background and then I’ve let the topic develop anywhere it wants.
Some lessons have moved into controversial areas like religious beliefs and the negative depiction of some religions by the press. Others have gotten very personal and addressed why some students think it’s OK to use Facebook in their classes yet expect high participation grades.
For years I’ve been interested in digging deep and covering really important social issues but I often don’t have the right levels or students are only interested in War Craft. With my current classes I personalise topics to get students interested then let them move out into wider world issues.
Until now, I have been a bit unconfident about covering sensitive and important issues because students have often never thought about them in their own language and may not have the maturity level to deal with them. I have had some success with my own blog posts (http://www.stgeorges.co.uk/blog/business-english/ and http://debatediscussion.blogspot.com/) but I haven’t worked with anyone else who has shared my interest or passion and have also been hesitant to really go the extra mile out of ‘safe EFL discussion territory’.
However, recently I have come across (thanks to Lindsay Clandfield) some brothers in arms who create absolutely amazing lesson plans that deal with gritty and important topics. They are also perfect for advanced students who often complain about doing basic content and need challenging on every level. I really do think these 2 areas need developing more and really recommend you check out these blogs and try similar ideas out yourself. They have definitely given me the confidence to do more real and meaty discussions in all my lessons.
Here are the blogs:
Here’s one of my lessons I made before the London riots:
How far should we go in our classes?
Should we push students with tough topics?
Is this the right direction for CAE/CPE+ classes?
Are blogs the best channel for such lessons?
Which of these topics would you be comfortable discussing in class if your students wanted to?