As part of my video series on current issues, I’ve decided to address homelessness. My upcoming video will focus on the present crisis in the U.S. However, homelessness is a problem in many countries around the world, which makes the topic familiar to many English language learners. Anytime we allow learners to tap into their background knowledge and experience, we enable them to contribute more to a conversation.
Homelessness isn’t a light topic, but I feel it’s still an appropriate topic to bring up in the context of an ESL lesson. Social problems prompt a reaction, and students can be given the chance to voice opinions and solutions in an open-minded, supportive environment. Such conditions can’t be guaranteed outside our classrooms, so it’s best that students have the opportunity to practice self-expression and prepare for more challenging discussions.
I’ve shared debate formats in the past as well as debate resources. For the topic of homelessness, I’d like to offer two PDF files. The first, which can be shared digitally, uses images to prompt initial discussion: Homelessness_Images. See how much language students have to discuss the issue. My video will help to fill in the gaps. The second file is a printable PDF: Homelessness_debate handout. It allows you to tackle this complex issue one aspect at a time through mini debates. I recommend assigning roles so that the focus is more on exploring viewpoints and expressing ideas rather than keeping track of who’s right and who’s wrong.
Got your own ideas for addressing controversial topics? Please share them.
Featured photo by T-ushar. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/photos/boy-alone-sad-crying-lonely-man-3891585/.