“The 4-year-old boy seemed to be suspended from a balcony. An adult standing on a nearby balcony seemed powerless to help. Disaster seemed the only possible outcome.Then, to the nimble rescue on the streets of Paris on Saturday evening, came a young man whom some French people have started to call the Spider-Man of the 18th referring to the arrondissement of Paris where the episode unfolded. With a combination of grit, agility and muscle, the man hauled himself hand over hand from one balcony to another, springing from one parapet to grasp the next one up. A crowd that had gathered before he began his daring exploit urged him ever upward…” A. Breeden and A. Cowell, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Paris ‘Spider-Man’ Saves Young Boy. Cue Debate on Migrants.By Aurellen Breeden and Alan Cowell, The New York Times
“Finally, after scaling four balconies, the man reached the child and pulled him to safety. And suddenly, an act of individual courage and resourcefulness began to play into Europe’s fraught and polarized debate about outsiders, immigrants and refugees.
The man, identified as Mamoudou Gassama, 22, is a migrant from Mali, a troubled former French colony in northwest Africa, who journeyed through Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya before making the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing to Italy and arriving in France in September, without documentation.
On Monday, after his heroic rescue of the boy, he met with President Emmanuel Macron. Now, he will get the requisite documentation to live legally in France. ‘I told him that in recognition of his heroic act he would have his papers in order as quickly as possible,’ Mr. Macron said in a statement on Facebook after meeting with Mr. Gassama at the Élysée Palace in Paris.
Mr. Gassama will be one of a lucky few in a country with increasingly tight immigration rules and a generally skeptical attitude toward migrants who are seeking primarily economic benefits. In 2017, only five people were granted residency papers for “exceptional talent” or ‘services rendered to the community,’ according to statistics from the French Interior Ministry. In 2016, there were six.
Mr. Macron said in his statement that the Paris firefighters were ‘eager to welcome’ Mr. Gassama into their ranks. He added that he had invited Mr. Gassama to apply for French citizenship, ‘because France is built on desire, and Mr. Gassama’s commitment clearly showed that he has that desire.’
In Paris, makeshift encampments of migrants under bridges and in parks are regularly evacuated by the police, only to grow again. ‘When they are in danger, we give asylum, but not for economic reasons,’ Mr. Macron said of immigrants, according to the news agency. ‘But in your case, you did something exceptional.’
This was not the first time in recent years that France celebrated an immigrant’s heroism. In January 2015, 24-year-old Lassana Bathily was widely praised for hiding customers in a cold-storage room after a gunman attacked a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes, in eastern Paris.
As France struggled to cope with the terrorist attacks at the supermarket and at the offices of the satirical news weekly Charlie Hebdo, his actions provided much needed solace. Mr. Bathily, a Muslim from Mali, was granted French citizenship later that month, and he currently works at Paris City Hall…The boy saved by Mr. Gassama was alone in the apartment while his father went grocery shopping, said François Molins, the Paris prosecutor. The boy’s mother was not in Paris at the time.
Mr. Molins told the BFM television news channel that the father had taken a long time to return home because he had decided to play the smartphone game Pokémon Go as he was leaving the store. The father was taken into police custody on Sunday, and an investigation has been opened for “failure to meet parental obligations.” A conviction on that charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison. The parents have not been identified, as is customary in French criminal inquiries.”
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
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.
- Finally, after scaling four balconies the man reached the child.
- With a combination of grit, agility and muscle, the man hauled himself from one balcony to another.
- A crowd that had gathered urged him ever upward.
- Mamoudou Gassama, 22, is a migrant from Mali.
- After his heroic rescue of the boy, he met with President Emmanuel Macron.
- In Paris, makeshift encampments of migrants are regularly evacuated by the police.
- Mr. Macron said that when immigrants are in danger, France gives them asylum.
- Many people admire the bravery of Mamoudou Gassama.
- The boy’s father is devastated because he realizes what he did.
- The father will be charged with neglect. A conviction on that charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken 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 ___the ___of Mamoudou Gassama, said Raphaël Glucksmann, the ___editor of a left-leaning literary review, in a post on Facebook. And I ___of a ___where it wouldn’t be necessary to___ a ___to save the ___of a child, at the ___of one’s own life, to be treated like a___being when you are a migrant.
WORD LIST:admire,human,scale, bravery, building, risk, country, dream, life, managing,
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,
I told him that ___recognition___ his heroic act he would have his papers ___order as quickly as possible.
___Monday, sitting ______Mr. Macron ___one ___the palace’s many gilded rooms, Mr. Gassama, wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, told the French president ___the rescue.
Mr. Macron himself has taken a tough approach ___immigrants.
III. Post Reading Activities
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 for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss 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 topics mentioned.
- What makes a man or woman a hero?
- Have you ever been a hero to someone? If yes, explain why.
- Describe what you think the character of a hero should be.
- Do you think sports figures, actors, or rock groups are heroes? Explain why or why not.
5. The article states, ” [President] Macron said in his statement that the Paris firefighters were ‘eager to welcome’ Mr. Gassama into their ranks. He added that he had ‘invited Mr. Gassama to apply for French citizenship, ‘because France is built on desire, and Mr. Gassama’s commitment clearly showed that he has that desire.’ The article further states, “Some, including groups that help undocumented migrants, criticized the government as hypocritical for praising Mr. Gassama while pushing to deport others like him, calling Mr. Macron’s Élysée invitation a public relations stunt. ‘I admire the bravery of Mamoudou Gassama,’ said Raphaël Glucksmann, the managing editor of a left-leaning literary review, in a post on Facebook. ‘And I dream of a country where it wouldn’t be necessary to scale a building to save the life of a child, at the risk of one’s own life, to be treated like a human being when you are a migrant. “
In your opinion, did Mamoudou Gassama get the reward he deserved? Explain your answers.
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.