Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is what democracy looks like!

The other day, I did a little discussion activity with my class. We started off by talking about Egypt and what was going on there (thanks, BreakingNewsEnglish, for the pre-made lesson). We brainstormed together about reasons that might cause people to demonstrate in the streets (war, crime, poverty, corruption, etc). We did some vocabulary, some listening, and then I asked them what would cause them to protest, so they talked in small groups for a little bit.

One of my Chinese students, as he was talking, was searching for a word: "what do you say when the government/media tells you one thing, but you know they only give you some information, and some of that information is missing or false?" My response: "censorship." He then proceeded to tell me that the formula for Chinese news, or CCTV, was as follows: one third talks about the Chinese leadership and how hard they've been working, the second third talks about how happy the Chinese people are, and the final third finishes by describing how unhappy the rest of the world is. The other Chinese students generally concurred.

We then talked a little about the history of pro-democracy rallies and demonstrations in their countries. It was a very interesting class because my students are from China (Tiananmen), Korea (Gwangju), and Iraq (need I say more).

I was surprised. Often, when I try to talk about current events in class, the students don't really seem to care, but they were surprisingly engaged and focused.

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