Category Archives: Social Issues

Was 2016 Really the Worst Year for this Country?

“Oh, 2016. The year it all went to hell. The year nothing made sense…Where were you when you decided this would be how we remembered the year? When you decided 2016 was pure trash, utter filth, a fire in a dumpster? Was it when David Bowie died? Or when Prince ended his purple reign? Or when you realized that, whoever won, Election 2016 was going to be a hot, smoldering mess? Was it Brexit? Was it Harambe? Which terror attack did it for you? …But — and this is the strange part — by many measures, 2016 wasn’t nearly as bad as certain portions of the Internet have made it out to be. And it surely can’t be the worst year of all time.” S. Sanders, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Should We All Just Stop Calling 2016 ‘The Worst’? By Sam Sanders, NPR

“For millions of Americans whose wages went up, or who re-entered the economy (the U.S. has enjoyed an unemployment rate under 5 percent for months), maybe their year was good, too. The vast majority of Americans lived lives free from any direct personal effects from incidences of global (or even national) terror, or wars throughout the globe (not to minimize global unrest, which is a constant, and particularly troubling this year). Multiple measures of consumer confidence, in fact, trended up this year, in spite of months full of headlines indicating a world on the brink. Of something. Or a lot of things. The markets are up, too. And more people have health insurance. So, why then, is 2016 the worst?

Large portions of the Internet have declared 2016 one of the worst years-Luciano-LozanoGetty-ImagesIkon.

Well, let’s start with the obvious: the election. There’s no need to recount it all. But it was a hot mess. Russian hacks, assertions of the size of one’s manhood on a debate stage,  FBI investigations and Access Hollywood videos. But there’s more than that. Some of the ‘2016 is awful’ rhetoric might be about the way we all consumed the headlines this year. Amy Mitchell, director of Journalism Research at the Pew Research Center, says what we’ve been witnessing in news consumption trends over the last few years has changed us.

Every five minutes, another sad headline, another Twitter mention or fight, another shared link on Facebook, another push notification. Another hit. And even if the news isn’t even explicitly about us, trust, we’re still taking a hit…

But culture always reflects the time. There must be something deeper, a certain logic or pathology that would lead thousands to deem this year so awful, and to declare as much, so publicly, and consistently, online, for months…For most of us, myself included, tweeting that 2016 is the worst, or even tweeting at all, is an exercise in privilege. The air in which one offers cultural criticism (including this very essay), memes and gif-able 140-character bursts, is rarefied. If your year was really the worst, you probably wouldn’t be tweeting about it. We weren’t in this spot a few years ago — this collective, ironic, gripe-fest — during those glory days of tweeting about being bored in meetings or what you had for lunch, or being so numbingly comfortable in your own world that you put your home address on Facebook.

Smile, 2017 is going to be better!

That seems to be all over now…So, 2016. Sure. Let’s call it the worst. But let’s also acknowledge that saying 2016 is the worst on Twitter says more about the tweeter, and the medium, than perhaps about the year itself.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Now it’s all irony, or sarcasm.
  2. Social media isn’t nice anymore.
  3. At it’s best, it’s just a little flip.
  4. We are in this collective, ironic, gripe-fest.
  5. Back then we were all so numbingly comfortable in  our own world.
  6. Now our feeds are just a record of discontent.
  7. You don’t necessarily go online looking for news each and every time.
  8. That constant bumping into news and online becomes an assault.
  9. Some people are constantly online and engaged in some way.
  10. A lot of the headlines we consumed this year was negative.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Now it’s all irony/iron, or sarcasm, or bomb/bombast. Saying 2016 is the worst online might just be us accepting that social/socially media caught up with the lesser angels/angles of our nature/natural. Social media/meds isn’t nice anymore. At it’s best, it’s just a little flip/slip. Now our feeds are just a record of discontent, or the performance thereof.

Grammar: Identifying Articles

Directions: Have students choose the correct English articles (THE, A, AN) to fill in the blank sentences.

Some of ___2016 is awful rhetoric might be about___ way we all consumed___ headlines this year.

A lot of ___shift to digital is presenting___news experience that is more mixed in with other kinds of activities.

That constant bumping into news and online discord can over time becomes___ assault.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following  topics.

  1. “A lot of the shift to digital is presenting a news experience that is more mixed in with other kinds of activities. You don’t necessarily go online looking for news each and every time. Somebody shares it, somebody emails it to you, somebody texts a link. And so many Americans are bumping into the news throughout the course of the day.”
  2. “It’s the medium…using social media to declare 2016 the worst ever is the latest example of how we use the Internet: ironically, with hyperbole, and usually, with a wink and a nod. It’s how we cope…the very act of such tweeting indicates a certain level of privilege. If you’re on Twitter, you’re on a mobile device, probably one of the newest ones, one of the new phones.”

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues | Tags:

Is Mental Illness Related to Demonic Possession?

“In the late 1980s, I was introduced to a self-styled Satanic high priestess. She called herself a witch and dressed the part… I’m a man of science and a lover of history; I trained in psychiatry at Yale and in psychoanalysis at Columbia. That background is why a Catholic priest had asked my professional opinion, which I offered pro bono, about whether this woman was suffering from a mental disorder… I concluded that she was possessed.” R. Gallagher Washington Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

mental-illness-vs-demonic-possession-image-mannaeexpressonline

mental-illness-vs-demonic-possession-image-mannaeexpressonline

Excerpt: I diagnose mental illness…I help spot demonic possession. By Richard Gallagher, Washington Post

“This was at the height of the national panic about Satanism. (In a case that helped induce the hysteria, Virginia McMartin and others had recently been charged with alleged Satanic ritual abuse at a Los Angeles preschool; the charges were later dropped.) So I was inclined to skepticism. But my subject’s behavior exceeded what I could explain with my training. She could tell some people their secret weaknesses, such as undue pride. She knew how individuals she’d never known had died.

pope-francis-may-have-conducted-a-public-exorcism-photo-randi-org-edu

pope-francis-may-have-conducted-a-public-exorcism-photo-randi-org-edu

Six people later vouched to me that, during her exorcisms, they heard her speaking multiple languages, including Latin, completely unfamiliar to her outside of her trances. This was not psychosis; it was what I can only describe as paranormal ability. The priest who had asked for my opinion of this bizarre case was the most experienced exorcist in the country at the time, an erudite and sensible man. I had told him that, even as a practicing Catholic, I wasn’t likely to go in for a lot of hocus-pocus. Well, he replied, unless we thought you were not easily fooled, we would hardly have wanted you to assist us. As I see it, the evidence for possession is like the evidence for George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. In both cases, written historical accounts with numerous sound witnesses testify to their accuracy. In the end, however, it was not an academic or dogmatic view that propelled me into this line of work. I was asked to consult about people in pain.”

Don't forget to register-to-vote-2016

Don’t forget to register-to-vote-2016

VOTE BLUE

Vote Hillary!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Satanic rituals helped induce hysteria.
  2. I was inclined to skepticism.
  3. Some people  had weaknesses such as undue pride.
  4. Six people later vouched they heard her speaking multiple languages.
  5. Many people knew about her exorcisms.
  6. I concluded that she was possessed.
  7. This was not psychosis.
  8. This was a bizarre case.
  9. I wasn’t likely to go in for a lot of hocus-pocus.
  10. The priest who had asked for my opinion.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

So began an___ partnership. For the___ two-and-a-half decades and over several___consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to ___episodes of mental illness — which ___the ___majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work. It’s an ___role for an academic physician, but I don’t see these two ___of my career in conflict.

WORD LIST: past, overwhelming, unlikely, unlikely, hundred, aspects, represent, filter,

 Grammar Focus

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Unfortunately, not all clergy/clearly involved in this complex/campus field are as cautious as the price/priest who first approached me. In some circles, there is a tendency/tender to become overly preoccupied with putative demon/demonic explanations and to see the devil everywhere. Fundamentalist misdiagnoses and absurd/absolve or even dangerous treatments, such as beating/beaten victims, have sometimes occurred, especially in developing countries.

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions: Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

Extra: Web Search

Directions: In groups/partners have students  search the web  to see what additional information they can find. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the subject.

Additional Reading: Six Centuries of Madness: An Asylum’s History, by Patrick McGrath, The New York Times

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

Should We Intervene When a Parent Disciplines a Child in Public?

“A woman in a Walmart in Texas last week who took photos of a man pushing a shopping cart with his daughter’s hair wrapped around its handle helped touch off a debate about when, or if, a bystander should intervene when a parent harshly disciplines a child in public. The woman, Erika Burch, was with her husband, Robert when they spotted the girl walking extremely close to the cart. Her head was leaning at an odd angle as the man dragged her alongside the cart by her hair. Mr. Burch, 44, said the girl, who the police said was 5, was crying.” C. Mele, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

a-man-wrapped-his-daughters-hair-around-the-handle-of-a-shopping-cart-and-pulled-her-along-in-a-walmart-photo-credit-erika-burch

a-man-wrapped-his-daughters-hair-around-the-handle-of-a-shopping-cart-and-pulled-her-along-in-a-walmart-photo-credit-erika-burch

Excerpt: Should You Intervene When a Parent Harshly Disciplines a Child in Public? By Christopher Mele, NYT

“Ms. Burch, intervened. She said she spoke to the man three times to try to get him to stop, each time raising her voice. Ms. Burch said the man told her, I grew up just fine, and began cursing at her. She called 911, and a police officer who was in the store about a shoplifting case was there within minutes. On its Facebook page, the Cleveland Police Department said a joint investigation was underway with Child Protective Services.

some-parents-force-kids-to-wear-signs-in-public-as-punishment-credit-huffingtonpost

some-parents-force-kids-to-wear-signs-in-public-as-punishment-credit-huffingtonpost

Witnesses were interviewed and reports were taken, the police chief, Darrel Broussard, said in an email. We do not condone the father’s actions in this incident, but we must gather all the facts and evidence, he wrote, adding that the father let go of the girl’s hair pretty quickly. No charges have been filed, and the man was not identified by the police. The chief said that many intervention plans were in place and that the child was doing great.

its-wrong-to-hit-a-child-credit-utexas-edu

its-wrong-to-hit-a-child-credit-utexas-edu

It was only after she intervened at the store, she said, that other shoppers thanked her. She said some people later sent her Facebook messages that the couple, who have four children, ages 2 to 7, should have minded their own business.

But Mr. Burch said the circumstances demanded action. This is what is wrong with America today… Everybody’s too scared to get involved anymore.

Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center, said people commonly call 911 if they see a fire or a crash, so why should cases of child endangerment be different?

If someone is being abusive to a child in public, just imagine what happens behind closed doors, he said in an email. 

photo-reddit-com

photo-reddit-com

Other experts cautioned that involving the authorities right away might cause the situation to escalate.

Ms. Burch said the thought crossed her mind that the man in Walmart might have a gun. She said that she watched closely for any sudden movements, but that she would not relent.

If you believe a child is truly being hurt or assaulted, you do need to step in and do something about it…In that case, be very firm with the parent, but if that person confronts you, alert a security guard or the police immediately.You have to be safe yourself.

Try to stay calm.

Try to stay calm.

Some states have good Samaritan laws that protect those who intervene from civil claims if they acted in good faith.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. We do not condone the father’s actions.
  2. The woman felt it was right to intervene.
  3. Police gathered all of the facts and evidence.
  4. There have been forensic interviews conducted with child services.
  5. Witnesses were interviewed and reports were taken.
  6. No charges have been filed.
  7. Some experts feel intervening might  cause the situation to escalate.
  8. If you believe a child is being hurt or assaulted you do need to do something about it.
  9. Are we legally obligated to intervene?
  10. Avoid being angry, stern or confrontational.
Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

If you see/sea something, say something. Do knot/not wait for the situation/situate to deteriorate/desperate before getting involved. If you wait for something to get worse/worsen before doing anything, it definitely can get worse and then it becomes harder to connect and be of help. You may feel guilt/guilty that you may be getting that parent in trouble, or that you may be making a mistake/mistook and misinterpreting the situation. However, think about how interaction/inaction can lead to the injury, danger or death to the child. Now think about that guilt/guild.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The parent might be frustrate or having a bad day.
  2. You do need to acknowledge the right of parents to discipline.
  3. You do need to be very firm with the parent.

II

  1. You have to be safe yourself.
  2. We do not as a society criminalize a failure to report a crime.
  3. Some states has good Samaritan laws.

III

  1. You should be warm, friendly and concerned.
  2. Collect yourself before you talk and withhold judgment.
  3. Speak in a even and soft tone.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.

When a Parent Harshly Disciplines a Child in Public Should We Intervene?

Team A will list five reasons for intervening.

Team B will list  five reasons against intervening.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology!

Pros and Cons Scale

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

Smile! You’re on Camera…Whether You Want to Be or Not

“Thanks to smartphones, just about everybody carries a high-quality camera … Our laptops have cameras. Our drones have cameras. ATMs, intersections, police cars and street corners have cameras. Businesses have security cameras. Even a new generation of smart doorbells has cameras… The debate over ubiquitous cameras normally centers on a trade-off between privacy and security.” M. Elgan, EWeek.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

mike-elgan-com

mike-elgan-com

Excerpt: How Cameras Everywhere Can Make the World a Better Place –By Mike Elgan, EWeek.com

“New live-streaming options are coming out. For example, the Mevo is a great little consumer camera designed for live-streaming anything. Taser is working on live-streaming police body cameras, which it promises will enter the market by the end of next year. Google plans to roll out a mobile live-streaming YouTube option any minute now. Two video-related events emerged in the news recently that forced public debate in technology circles about the despair vs. justice dichotomy—or they should have.

In the first case, videos were smuggled out of the Four Corners teen detention center in Australia showing horrific and inexcusable abuse of incarcerated minors.

In the second case, a woman used Facebook Live to live-stream a fatal encounter with police during a traffic stop in Minnesota.

Many believe that security-cameras-are-important-for-public-safety

Many believe that security-cameras-are-important-for-public-safety

What both videos have in common is that they’re graphic and horrific, and watching them is the kind of experience that can make you lose faith in humanity.

What they don’t have in common is that Facebook banned or censored the Four Corners videos, but allowed the traffic-stop videos. What are the standards here?

The truth is that horrific, graphic and depressing videos are everywhere online these days. Sites such as YouTube and LiveLeak are rife with all manner of fights, car accidents, war, terrorism, abuse and more.

Our brains are not designed to understand the scale of human activity and so we can’t fully comprehend the horrors we see in the context of the broader world of all the good that people do in the world. And so we’re left with the nagging feeling that most people are sociopaths and the entire world is a bad neighborhood.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil points out, however, that the world isn’t actually getting worse. Instead, our information is getting better. In fact, we have access to billions of boring pictures and videos depicting people behaving with civility and kindness. And we ignore them—because they’re boring.

people-are-more-likely-to-show-politeness-in-elevators

people-are-more-likely-to-show-politeness-in-elevators

In a village, there’s universal accountability. In other words, our moral systems assume that others in the community will know what we’re up to and we learn to adjust our behavior accordingly. That’s why people are polite in an elevator, but rude in traffic. In an elevator, the close quarters forces people to be very civil for a few seconds—holding the door for each other and speaking respectfully and politely to one another…The great thing about cameras is that, in a globalized, mass population world, cameras give us the potential for village-like or even elevator-like accountability…In fact, I’d love to see a lot more cameras in the world. All police should have body cams. All police interrogations should be recorded and the recording made available to the accused. Courtrooms should have publicly available cameras.

people-are-not-so-polite-while-driving-photo-content-time

people-are-not-so-polite-while-driving-photo-content-time

In fact, in any situation where the powerful can victimize the powerless, cameras should be rolling… That change in behavior won’t come about from the invasion of privacy or the existence of hidden cameras, but from the expectation that we’ll all be held accountable for our actions in public… And that’s a better world.”

candletiff

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. People worry about the invasion of privacy.
  2. Video cameras are ubiquitous in major public areas.
  3. New live-streaming options are coming out.
  4. Videos were smuggled out of the detention center.
  5. Watching these videos preys on a human cognitive bias.
  6. It makes us feel some of the fear and even panic of the people.
  7. The video is uploaded to the cloud in real-time.
  8. It is illegal  to use aerial surveillance in many places.
  9. We’ll all be held accountable for our actions in public.
  10. Every new technology involves some kind of new trade-off.

Word Chart By Education Oasis

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

All police should have___cams. All police ___should be recorded and the ___made available to the accused. Courtrooms should have publicly available cameras. In fact, in any situation where the powerful can___the powerless, cameras should be rolling.

There are some ways in which humans change and evolve to cope with changing___and other ways in which___ will never change.

I think it’s likely that, over time, we’ll adjust to the ___of horrible videos online and learn to ___that the most ___videos and pictures don’t ___the reality of the world, but are exceptions to normal activity.

WORD LIST: recording, body, technology, reflect, interrogations,

victimize, entertaining, understand, ubiquity, humans,

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

That’s why people are polite in a elevator, but rude in traffic.

In an elevator, the close quarters forces people to be very civil.

In traffic, the idea is that we’ll never see these people again.

II

Most people are civil drivers.

I’m an big fan of the Ring Video Doorbell.   

The bell rings both in the house and on the app.

III

The camera is obvious on the Ring doorbell.

Imagine if every home had a camera like this.

I’d love to see an lot more cameras in the world.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.  Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made  points.  

Team A will list five reasons for public video cameras.

Team B will list  five reasons against public video cameras.

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Pros and Cons Scale

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

India’s Transgender: From Mortal to Divine

“During the 10-day Hindu festival Mayana Kollai, the troubles of transgender women are distant as they transform into the deities they worship and are revered by villagers. The transformation takes place in an atmosphere of reverent, somber concentration. Laugh lines vanish, replaced by an impassive mask. Skin becomes stone.” C. Feit The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

ehada Guru, shown here as the goddess Amman. Photo- Credit Candace Feit, The New York Times

Jehada Guru, shown here as the goddess Amman. Photo- Credit Candace Feit, The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Mortal to Divine and Back: India’s Transgender Goddesses,  by Candace  Feit The New York Times

“As they prepared to perform in the Mayana Kollai festival in a fishing village in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, some of the dancers slipped into trances so deep it appeared they might have fainted. Indians who decide to live as kothis — also known as hijras, kinnars or aravani, depending on the region — are born male and typically have male lovers.

Photo- Candace Feit The New York Times

Photo- Candace Feit The New York Times

Unlike transgender people in the West, they leave a conservative mainstream culture for an equally conservative subculture. Some live in communes with a strict network of rules under the authority of leaders they refer to as mothers and grandmothers.

Others live with their parents or head heterosexual families. Many reveal their identities as teenagers and are met with years of taunts and beatings… But during the festival, which takes place in either February or March each year, these troubles are impossibly distant.

Any trace of human expression is lifted. Phot- Candace Feit. The New York Times

Any trace of human expression is lifted. Phot- Candace Feit. The New York Times

Any trace of human expression is lifted, and the kothis begin to resemble the deities they worship. The ordinary is tethered to the divine. —

For those 10 days, the kothis are treated with reverence by the villagers. Photo- Candace Feit, NYT

For those 10 days, the kothis are treated with reverence by the villagers. Photo- Candace Feit, NYT

For those 10 days, the kothis are treated with reverence by the villagers, who flock to see them dance without any mention of their gender identity. Walking the town’s streets, the kothis are invited into house after house to give blessings.

Kavia Varshini, a traditional Indian dancer, is a celebrity in this part of Tamil Nadu. Photo- Candace Feit, NYT

Kavia Varshini is a traditional Indian dancer. Photo- Candace Feit, NYT

Kavia Varshini, a traditional Indian dancer, is a celebrity in this part of Tamil Nadu. When she walks through crowds after a performance, people rush to her side to have their picture taken. She is one of the lucky ones: There is no family expectation that she will marry.

Photo- Candace Feit.

Photo- Candace Feit.

At the end of the festival, their moment over, the kothis return to ordinary life.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Some of the dancers slip into trances.
  2. Any trace of human expression is lifted.
  3. The kothis begin to resemble the deities they worship.
  4. The ordinary is tethered to the divine.
  5. The kothi performers were solemn as the festival approached.
  6. For those 10 days, the kothis are treated with reverence by the villagers.
  7. Kavia Varshini, a traditional Indian dancer, is a celebrity in this part of Tamil Nadu.
  8. There is no family expectation that she will marry.
  9. As kothis converge on the village, rivalries can flare.
  10. Another kothi  is under intense pressure from her family to marry soon.

Word Chart By Education Oasis

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

…during the festival/festive which takes place in neither/either February or March each year, these troubles/trebles are impossibly distant. Any trace of humble/human expression is lifted, and the kothis begin to resemble/assemble the diets/deities they worship. The ordinary is tethered to the divine. —The performers crowd/crowed into a small room near the template/temple to apply makeup, a proceed/process that can take as long as two hours. By the time they finish, their faces have disappeared beneath a shell/shawl of color — half-person, half-goddess.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off-

Unlike transgender people ___the West, they leave a conservative mainstream culture ___ an equally conservative subculture. Some live___communes with a strict network___rules ___the authority___ leaders they refer ___ as mothers and grandmothers.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Activities

Directions: Place students in groups and have them   complete the following. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the  topics mentioned.

  1. Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY