Category Archives: Religion

This Student Gave Up English for Lent!

“Last year, I gave up English for Lent. For 40 days, with the exception of conversations, my own activities — the books I read, the television I watched, the podcasts I heard — had to be in one of the non-English languages I could understand, which included Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Chinese…” J. Kang, The New York Times, March 1, 2022 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Paige Vickers, NYT

 

Excerpt: I Gave Up English for Lent, By Jimin Kang, The New York Times, March 1, 2022

“As a college senior living in New Jersey at the time, I also made an exception for school; I had to graduate, after all, from a university in a country where English is a necessary part of getting by. This was a challenge that had been years in the making. Although I speak Korean with my parents at home, English — which I first learned at the age of 4 — is my strongest language. Growing up in Hong Kong, I spent 14 years at international schools with many classmates who, like me, spoke better English than they did their parents’ native tongues. I knew Korean, Chinese and English by the age of 10, but I couldn’t speak all of these languages in the breezy, cosmopolitan way I wanted…As someone who was approaching Lent after a long hiatus from faith, I wanted to give up a precious thing whose absence would make room for something revelatory. I wondered: What if I gave up language?At first, the idea terrified me. But my apprehension convinced me that this would be a good test both of who I was and what I could do… I challenged myself to broach difficult topics with my parents for the first time: What it meant to be a person of color in America, how it felt to endure heartbreak and how I had returned to a faith that they, having moved back to Korea, had begun to relinquish...All of us, no matter what languages we are born speaking and which ones we later adopt, are constantly coming to terms with parts of our identities that simultaneously define and confound us.”

* Ms. Kang is a graduate student in comparative literature and critical translation at the University of Oxford

To Learn More about Jimin and her experience, Visit Her beautiful website

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 60 minutes.


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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

Word Inference

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

  1. Last year, I gave up English for Lent.
  2. The books I read, the television I watched, the podcasts I heard — had to be in one of the non-English languages.
  3. I made an exception for school.
  4. This was a challenge that had been years in the making.
  5. The three languages asserted a hierarchy in which English became dominant.
  6. This was a challenge to my relationships with people and traditions closest to my heart.
  7. By combining intentional sacrifices with prayer and reflection, Lent offers a consistent space to inspect one’s life.
  8. Sacrifices can range from giving up common indulgences to adopting new habits.
  9. Nonbelievers too, have increasingly adopted the secular elements of Lenten practice.
  10. This student had taken a long hiatus from faith.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Sacrifices can range from giving up common indulgences to adopting new habits.
  2. At first, the idea terrified mine.
  3. And so the 40 days began.

II

  1. In lieu of podcasts, I would wake up and listen to 10-minute newsreels from Brazil.
  2. The  frigid New Jersey winter slowly turned to spring.
  3. I would make my way threw Spanish-language Netflix shows.

III

  1. One morning, I wrote in my journal about a dream I’d had.
  2. Writing in a  foreign language can be frustrate.
  3. You could listen to music from another country, even if it is in a language you do not understand.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences 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.

I ___myself to broach difficult___with my ___for the first time: What it meant to be a person of___in America, how it felt to endure ___and how I had returned to a___ that they, having moved back to___, had begun to___. In the process, I became a better___, writer, friend and a___of faith, if faith is ___linked to the___that one is but a small part in a greater ___of things.

WORD LIST: cosmos, intrinsically, person, daughter, relinquish, topics, heartbreak, Korea, faith, color, parents, challenged, belief,

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. After reading the article, why did the author decide to give up English for Lent?
  2. What is the author’s native language?
  3. What did the author learn after this experience? How was the knowledge helpful to her?
  4. How many languages can you speak?
  5. Which language would you choose to give up for Lent? Why?
  6. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education, Religion, Social Issues | Tags:

Doctor Killed for Speaking Against Superstitions in India

Narendra Dabholkar was a physician who tried to help his people see the danger of believing in sorcerers, gurus, and magical treatments such as animal sacrifices or killing infants as cures for their illnesses.  After 30 years of educating people, Dr. Dabholkar  was recently  killed for his efforts.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Narendra Dabholkar had openly criticised India's so-called godmen.BBC News India

Narendra Dabholkar had openly criticised India’s so-called godmen.BBC News India

Excerpt: Battling Superstition… By  Ellen Barry, The New York Times

For nearly three decades, an earnest man named Narendra Dabholkar traveled from village to village in India, waging a personal war against the spirit world.

If a holy man had electrified the public with his miracles, Dr. Dabholkar, a former physician, would duplicate the miracles and explain, step by step, how they were performed. If a sorcerer had amassed a fortune treating infertility, he would arrange a sting operation to unmask the man as a fraud.  His goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs.

That mission ended Tuesday, when two men ran up behind Dr. Dabholkar, 67, as he crossed a bridge, shot him at point-blank range, then jumped onto a motorbike and disappeared into the traffic coursing through this city.

Mourners pay their respects over the casket of  Narendra Dabholkar, Global Post.

Mourners pay their respects over the casket of Narendra Dabholkar, Global Post.

Dr. Dabholkar’s killing is the latest episode in a millenniums-old wrestling match between traditionalists and reformers in India. When detectives began putting together a list of Dr. Dabholkar’s enemies, they found that it was long. He had received threats from Hindu far-right groups, been beaten by followers of angry gurus and challenged by councils upholding archaic caste laws. His home state, Maharashtra, was considering legislation he had promoted for 14 years, banning a list of practices like animal sacrifice, the magical treatment of snake bites and the sale of magic stones.

The killers left behind a few pieces of evidence. Surveillance cameras show two men lurking around a bridge for nearly an hour before intercepting Dr. Dabholkar .

Superstitions. The Review News.

Superstitions. The Review News.

With his unfashionable glasses and mild smile, Dr. Dabholkar fell into his region’s tradition of progressive social movements. An atheist, he quit practicing medicine at 40 to devote his life to activism. The room where he worked was bare but for a framed quote from Mahatma Gandhi. He was active on many fronts, from women’s rights to environmentalism, but the guru-busting received the most attention. 

Dr. Dabholkar gave a speech [in which he said] I am not saying there is no God. Believe in God. But do not keep any superstitions in your heart. Only God is in your heart.

Not 50 feet away, Kumar Shankar was offering palm readings in the same spot where he has worked since 1987. He sat cross-legged and barefoot, in a vest of rough homespun fabric, and was not especially bothered by the challenges of secularists. A reading was 60 rupees, about $1.

Real or Fake? Gurus and mystics in India. abcnews.

Real or Fake? Gurus and mystics in India. abcnews.

According to Kumar Shankar: “The Constitution of India has given us freedom of expression. Many people say God is not there, but many more believe in God. Many people do not believe in spirits. Many people believe in spirits. To charges that he was exploiting that belief, he said, “If you go to a doctor, will he treat you for free?”  Read more… 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read 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 discussions, and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to read the title of the post, and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. In addition students can use this Word Map by Education Oasis2-Word Chart By Education Oasis

Sentences:

  1. Narendra Dabholkar traveled from village to village waging a personal war against the spirit world.
  2. If a sorcerer had amassed a fortune treating infertility, Dr. Dabholkar would arrange a sting operation to unmask the man as a fraud.
  3. His goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India.
  4. That mission ended Tuesday, when two men  killed Dr. Dabholkar.
  5. He had been beaten by followers of angry gurus.
  6. Mourners filtered through the family’s home.
  7. There was a slight smell of incense.
  8. The killers left behind a few pieces of evidence.
  9. An atheist, he quit practicing medicine at 40.
  10. The list of banned activities grew shorter and shorter over the years.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Narendra Dabholkar was a a former guru.
  2. His would duplicate miracles of false healers.
  3. His goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India.
  4. Narendra Dabholkar was killed by  a man with a gun.
  5. Narendra Dabholkar visited President Obama.
  6. His wife always joined him on missions.
  7. Surveillance cameras show the two men lurking around a bridge waiting to kill Dabholkar.
  8. Friends and family described threats Dr. Dabholkar had received over the years from hard-line Hindu organizations.
  9. The room where he worked was bare but for a framed photo of his wife.
  10. Narendra Dabholkar had a happy marriage.

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

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 Exercise

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

  1. The author  begins by stating, “For nearly three decades, an earnest man named Narendra Dabholkar traveled from village to village in India, waging a personal war against the spirit world.” Rephrase this comment into your own words.
  2. Another comment, “ He was active on many fronts, from women’s rights to environmentalism, but the guru-busting received the most attention.” Explain in your own words what this means.
  3. Are there people in your country who fight against spiritualism and superstitious beliefs? If yes, explain why, if no, explain why not.
  4. Do you believe that superstitions help or hinder people who are ill? Provide reasons for your answers.
  5. What are the most significant ideas  in this article?

 ANSWER KEY: Narendra Dabholkar