A lesson based on Facebook content – pros and cons

I don’t know about you but I’ve had my periods on and off Facebook; I even used to hate so much that I wanted to deactivate my account. But now I’d say I’m on good terms with it, mainly because it can be a great source of teaching ideas. I use an idea from FB at least once a week in the classroom. This is usually a warm-up or a filler. However, I’ve also been able to create a complete lesson based on a set of ideas I came across on FB.

I recently started teaching an intermediate class (18-year-olds) for which I have no coursebook. This class is called Skills and it’s mainly content-based, which basically means I don’t teach grammar at all explicitly. Instead, we discuss various topics – usually fact-related. So far, we’ve covered the Czech Republic and Prague. The next topic is the EU, which is obviously a topic most teenage students could easily live without. There’s one issue, though, which is closely linked to the topic of the European Union and which my students usually find quite thought-provoking – immigration. So I searched through FB to find something interesting to engage my students and give them some food for thought.

Below is a plan I made.

Note: if you bear with me till the end of the post, I’ll share some potential pitfalls related to teaching a lesson based on Facebook content.

Pre-reading activity

  • Make a list of 10 European countries which you think have the strongest economies.
  • Where do you think the majority of immigrants come from in these countries?

Reading

Read the abstract from this article. Compare the information it provides with your answers to the Qs above:

Here’s the text (a shortened, printed version will be given to Ss): Did you know that Polish people represent the highest percentage of the foreign-born population in Norway? Or that the largest proportion of immigrants to the Republic of Ireland hail from the UK?

These maps, created by Jakub Marian, a Czech linguist, mathematician, and artist, are based on a 2015 study by the United Nations on international migration. They show European migration split into various numbers:

  1. Number of foreign-born people as a percentage of the total population

The population with the highest percentage of foreign-born people is Luxembourg (45.9%), followed by Switzerland (29.6%), Sweden (18.5%), Austria (17.4%), Estonia (15.8%) and Germany (14.5%). The UK comes in at 13.4%. Marian then mapped which countries have been most affected by the European migration crisis. Austria and Sweden were the only European countries to register an above 1% increase in their foreign-born populations as percentage of the total, while Germany showed a less than 1% increase.

  1. Where do the majority of immigrants come from?

The highest proportion of immigrants to the UK in 2015 hailed from India; for Norway, it’s Poland; and for Austria and Switzerland, it’s neighboring Germany. Most of the Republic of Ireland’s foreign-born population comes from the UK. France, Spain and Portugal’s immigrants come from further south (Algeria, Morocco and Angola respectively). For Greece and Macedonia, FYR, it’s Albanians. Poland and the Czech Republic saw the most immigrants from the Ukraine. In many eastern European countries, Russia has provided the most immigrants.

  1. How that number has changed in the past five years

For instance, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Norway, which showed the highest percentage of foreign-born people compared to overall population, also saw the highest increases in immigrant populations between 2010 and 2015. The UK and Finland followed close behind. The countries with the largest migrant populations settling elsewhere were Poland, Serbia, Germany, and Romania.

After reading:

Display the following four maps on the screen one by one. Ask Ss to explain what they can see (preferably in pairs first). Note: The maps relate to the text above. As Ss have copies of the text in front of them, they can easily refer to them if necessary.

 

 

zr5ukwgolnbxxs8-rg_m26vbpdofxcekwmroylvnmqk

 

mzh2mzhlhsofme7_ounic4xvvq9vql7elnln5j0lfg0

 

Speaking: 

Look at this picture and briefly describe it in pairs.

fotoliacomp_122343270_kvdirh50ze0gdxjltgrrxcakcccvnolx_w95

Listening and reading: 

Some reports say that there’s been a huge rise in racism after Brexit. Here’s a video which presents 5 ways you can combat it.

Watch the video.

There are some comments below the video. Look at some of them and decide which are racist and which of them are anti-racist?

  • Great video! Unfortunately, this only proves that Government and law are not working as if there’d be stricter rules out there for things like domestic abuse and racism, we would be able to fight them.
  • Been a huge rise in Media propaganda about racism after Brexit – as if wanting to be in control of your own home is wrong.
  • (reply to number 2): Stop invading and bombing other countries stop lecturing and stop imposing sanctions economics/etc on other countries if you do that you can control your shit as much as you like but until then…..
  • And sadly enough not even one of the victims in the video is white L That is racism in itself…
  • It’s such a shame this video only has 527k views. Yet, a cat licking a bowl of milk gets 34 million!

Writing and speaking:

Ss write their own comments (on a piece of paper) and then share the comments in class.

 

Possible dangers one should take into account when doing a lesson like this:

  • vulgar language in the authentic content (comments)
  • unsubstantiated and inaccurate information
  • the content of your lesson can disappear before you teach it, i.e. the authors can delete it for some reason
  • grammatical and spelling mistakes in authentic texts

I’d recommend telling your students about all the possible dangers related to an authentic content of this sort. Let them know that they can’t trust anything that they see without verifying the information. Facebook posts are supposed to shock people – make them cry, laugh or rage. As far as grammatical accuracy is concerned, tell them that this is what authentic language looks like – even though there are mistakes, they can still learn a lot from them. And some mistakes are not even mistakes but just varieties of English.

 

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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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4 Responses to A lesson based on Facebook content – pros and cons

  1. careymicaela says:

    Fascinating lesson! Apart from the usual practice in speaking or reading, lots of other possible aims such as recognizing the veracity of a source online, encouraging tolerance and inclusion, interpreting maps and using data to discuss opinions. Lots of layers here. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Thanks for your enthusiastic comment, Micaela! It seems you can find teaching gems everywhere you look. 🙂 And this is the power of sharing – the writer offers a couple of layers and the reader adds some more. Great!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nataliia Remarchuk says:

    Thank you for a perfectly structured, interesting and educative lesson!

    Liked by 1 person

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