“I am the son of Muslim immigrants. Being Muslim American already carries a decent amount of baggage. In our culture, when people think Muslim, the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar…It’s of a scary terrorist character from Homeland or some monster from the news…It also makes no sense.” A. Ansari, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family, By Aziz Ansari, The New York Times
“Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels. It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family.
There are approximately 3.3 million Muslim Americans. After the attack in Orlando, The Times reported that the F.B.I. is investigating 1,000 potential “homegrown violent extremists,” a majority of whom are most likely connected in some way to the Islamic State. If everyone on that list is Muslim American, that is 0.03 percent of the Muslim American population. If you round that number, it is 0 percent. The overwhelming number of Muslim Americans have as much in common with that monster in Orlando as any white person has with any of the white terrorists who shoot up movie theaters or schools or abortion clinics.
I’m really sick of having to explain that I’m not a terrorist every time the shooter is brown…I understand that as far as these problems go, I have it better than most because of my recognizability as an actor. When someone on the street gives me a strange look, it’s usually because they want to take a selfie with me, not that they think I’m a terrorist.
According to reporting by Mother Jones, since 9/11, there have been 49 mass shootings in this country, and more than half of those were perpetrated by white males. I doubt we’ll hear Mr. Trump make a speech asking his fellow white males to tell authorities “who the bad ones are,” or call for restricting white males’ freedoms.
One way to decrease the risk of terrorism is clear: Keep military-grade weaponry out of the hands of mentally unstable people, those with a history of violence, and those on F.B.I. watch lists.”
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
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.
- I am the son of Muslim immigrants.
- That killer was a psychopath.
- The vitriolic and hate-filled rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump is horrific.
- He implied that millions of innocent people are involved in those attacks.
- One way to decrease the risk of terrorism is clear.
- Keep military-grade weaponry out of the hands of mentally unstable people.
- Suspected terrorists can buy assault rifles.
- Xenophobic rhetoric was central to Mr. Trump’s campaign.
- The haunting sound of the second plane hitting the towers is forever ingrained in my head.
- My family, unable to reach me was terrified about my safety.
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.
My ___was close enough that it ___upon impact. I was ___for my life as my ___students and I ___the panicked streets of___. My family, unable to reach me on my___, was terrified about my___ as they watched the towers___. There was ___no cheering. Only sadness, ___and fear.
WORD LIST: collapse, shook, trekked, Manhattan, horror, building, cellphone, scared, absolutely, safety, fellow,
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
I myself am not a region/religious person, but after these attacks/attics, anyone that even likes/looks like they might be Muslim understands the feelings/feel my friend described. There is a strong/strange feeling that you must almost prove/proof yourself worthy/worth of feeling sad and scarred/scared like everyone else.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following statement. 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.
- “The vitriolic and hate-filled rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump isn’t so far off from cursing at strangers from a car window. He has said that people in the American Muslim community “know who the bad ones are,” implying that millions of innocent people are somehow complicit in awful attacks.”
- Have each group list 3 questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article.
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 article.