At IH Sofia we find that engaging English language students in discussions about community concerns is an effective way to enhance their language skills while fostering empathy and social awareness. By focusing on the theme of poverty and community needs, students can develop a deeper understanding of social issues and explore positive change. We’ve taken a B2 DRGC Learning Outcome and included a range of ideas and activities that you can use to facilitate conversations, encourage critical thinking, and motivate students to engage with the needs of community members living in poverty.
- Brainstorming and Vocabulary Building: Begin by conducting a brainstorming session to elicit students’ prior knowledge and perceptions of poverty. Encourage them to share their thoughts, ideas, and personal experiences related to community concerns. Create a word wall or concept map with key vocabulary terms such as poverty, inequality, homelessness, hunger, education, healthcare, and unemployment. Discuss the meanings and contexts of these words to build students’ vocabulary and language comprehension.
- Case Studies and Discussion Groups: Divide students into small groups and provide them with case studies, pictures or real-life scenarios depicting community members facing poverty-related challenges. Each group should analyse and discuss the situation, identifying the needs and concerns of the individuals involved. Encourage them to consider potential solutions, community resources, and possible ways to support those in need. Afterwards, conduct a whole-class discussion to share ideas and insights, promoting active participation and critical thinking.
- Guest Speakers and Interviews: Invite guest speakers from local non-profit organizations, community centres, or social welfare agencies to talk about their work in poverty alleviation. These speakers can share stories, experiences, and first-hand knowledge about the challenges faced by community members living in poverty. Alternatively, organize interview sessions where students can prepare questions and interview individuals who have experienced poverty or have actively worked towards its alleviation. These interactions will provide valuable insights and encourage empathy among students.
- Role-Playing and Debates: Organize role-playing activities to simulate real-life scenarios related to community concerns. Assign roles to students, such as community members in need, social workers, volunteers, or government officials, and ask them to engage in discussions, negotiations, and problem-solving exercises. This will help students develop language skills for advocating, expressing opinions, and finding solutions. Additionally, conduct debates on topics like government policies, economic inequality, or the effectiveness of various poverty reduction strategies. Encourage students to research and present evidence to support their arguments, promoting critical thinking and persuasive communication.
- Service-Learning Projects: Engage students in service-learning projects that directly address community concerns. Collaborate with local charities, food banks, or shelters to provide opportunities for students to volunteer or contribute their skills. For example, they can organize fundraising events, collect donations, tutor underprivileged students, or create awareness campaigns. These hands-on experiences will enable students to witness the impact of poverty first hand and develop a sense of responsibility towards their community.
- Multimedia Presentations and Documentaries: Assign students to create multimedia presentations or short documentaries on poverty-related issues. They can research, gather data, interview community members, and present their findings in a visually engaging format. Encourage the use of English language skills such as narration, persuasive language, and effective visual communication. Screen these presentations in the classroom, inviting discussions and reflections on the issues raised.
- Reflective Journals and Writing Assignments: Allocate time for students to maintain reflective journals where they can document their thoughts, emotions, and insights gained from discussions and activities related to poverty. Encourage them to connect personal experiences with broader societal issues and consider the ways in which they can contribute to poverty alleviation. Additionally, assign writing tasks such as opinion pieces, persuasive essays, or research papers on community concerns and poverty-related topics. This will enhance their writing skills while deepening their understanding of the subject matter.
By engaging our students in conversations about community concerns and poverty they develop language skills alongside empathy and social awareness. Through dialogue and action, students can make a positive difference in the lives of community members living in poverty.
Let us know your thoughts and additional ways we can incorporate community concerns into the syllabus?