Today, April 9th, is a day to END IT! For practice with simultaneous translation, today I showed this brief video about slavery in the world today. As the subtitles ran in English, I offered an interpretation in Spanish of the video's script.
I provided students with a few key terms that appear in the video, including:
- la esclavitud
- la mentira
- las fábricas
- la amenaza
- el burdel
- la justicia
- la opresión
- contra su voluntad
- la voz
- a indiferencia
- la libertad
In Spanish 203 and 204, students have been preparing debates this week using the subjunctive form. I asked whether there is any debate to the subject of slavery. Following this video and translation exercise, students began presenting opposing points of view over various topics of human security and human rights: gun control, immigration, the DREAM act, gay marriage, abortion, lowering the drinking age, legalization of marijuana. I allowed students to propose topics and to choose the side of each debate that they wish to argue. They have been preparing during class and at home this week.
By doing debates in class, students are gaining confidence in embracing their own bilinguality. They are taking their speaking abilities to the brink in answering impromptu questions from the audience about controversial topics---and as they stretch their linguistic capacity, their language skills grow before our very eyes. It is an honor to see the students grow.
Here are some ideas for class discussion in a language classroom. After we watched the video, I offered some sentences using the subjunctive to talk about action steps we can take. I had a list of infinitives on the board:
- informarse sobre el tema
- compartir el video
- divulgar la información
- cambiar nuestros hábitos de consumo
- participar en un boicot de las compañías que abusan de sus empleados
- influir en el Congreso con peticiones y cartas sobre esta situación
- orar por los víctimas del tráfico de personas
- Es importante que
- Es triste que
- Es necesario que
- Es preciso que
- Es urgente que
- No creo que
- Espero que
Since we are talking in class about food, we did a reading from the textbook (Identidades) that talks about the chocolate trade. Some in the class knew about fair trade clothing, and we discussed the boycotts against Hershey's and Nestlé. We mentioned the local fair trade store in our community, The Welcome Mat. We discussed how sometimes something healthy and good, like quinoa, can lead to environmental devastation, as is the case in present-day Bolivia.
As students learn how consumer choices and personal decisions affect others, they become truly engaged global citizens. They take their language from an artificial, safe classroom environment and prepare to use their language skills for everyday tasks that involve logic, rhetoric, science, technology, social justice, love and mercy.
How do you engage students in thinking compassionately about their own responsibility for justice in the real world? Please share your comments below.