A Global Issue in the classroom: Migration

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When it comes to global issues – and in the Global Issues SIG it really does – the topic of migration cannot be left unaddressed, especially in the light of what is currently happening in the world. But should we bring this controversial topic to the ELT classroom? Can we? Judging by the level of engagement and the shower of ideas at the Global Issues workshop held at the 25. IATEFL-H Jubilee Conference, I am inclined to say that the answer to both of these questions is undoubtedly YES.

The session centred on activities that help teachers raise awareness of the issue while involving all four skills of language learning. These tasks might help you and your students clarify the differences between the jungle of terms we hear, read, or see in the media when, for instance, we start talking about the people involved in this issue. Are they emigrants, expatriates, refugees, or immigrants? Put all these words on the board and have students work out the differences! This activity provides an opportunity for your learners to ask questions, reflect on what their peers say, and activate their topic-related vocabulary. But if you feel that you are getting lost in the maze of conflicting opinions and arguments around you, work with them! In the workshop, we saw ways of bringing these thoughts and sentiments into the classroom while improving students’ reasoning skills.

One thing I especially liked about the workshop is that however contentious this issue might be, there are many-many simple ways of addressing it, which are likely to generate discussions. Even a homemade visual aid can help you start or finish your lesson. We saw a poster drawing attention to the fact that we tend to appreciate diversity of the flora and fauna, as well as that of natural and human-constructed landscapes. What about human diversity, then?

As a student and a teacher trainee at the same time, I really appreciated the practice-driven and creative ways of combining language learning and important content areas in teaching. Should your interest be kindled by now, throw a glance at all the activities put together for session.

Gergő Fekete

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