After human rights is was logical to talk about developing countries. First we needed to define a developing country. It was far from a clear-cut issue. We tried to figure out what the factors are that contribute to the problems of some countries. We also talked about our own conceptions. Many of them turned out to be misconceptions – it’s not all about suffering and miserable conditions. I introduced one case more closely: Tanzania. In 2012 I took a group of our students there, so I had some firsthand knowledge of this beautiful country. In the end of the lesson we talked about everybody’s responsibilities related to the problems of developing countries; what should we do, what can we do and what are we willing to do.
This is how some students felt:
“…we learned more about developing countries. It was an eye-opening lesson to see what a developing country really is all about.”
“The speech of the girl awarded with the Noble peace prize was very touching. Other videos were interesting too and the stories and pictures from Tanzania were really nice.”
Two lovely young German girls, Isabel Dettling and Jenny Kleine, visited our class. They are exchange students in Oulu and willing to introduce their home country.
Isabel on the left and Jenny on the right.
“This lesson was by far the most interesting lesson we’ve had. It was really nice to have international guests and I’m really excited to meet more.”
“Isabel and Jenny came here to tell us some facts about Germany as a country. It was very good lesson and I found it entertaining to hear their stories.”
The girls had baked us pretzels!
Several other teachers in our school agreed to teach my group a topic from their own field. The fifth lesson was held by our history teacher Jukka Vihermaa. He dealt with the current situation in Ukraine. Too bad I wasn’t able to attend. I had to substitute Jukka and take care of his history class…
This is what some of the students said in their journals:
“The topic in today’s lesson was the crisis in Ukraine. The lesson taught me a lot, and I realised I didn’t actually know a lot about the situation right now.”
“Today the topic was very interesting. It made me wonder, where the situation in Ukraine will lead. Western countries see the situation in a different way than Russia sees it.”
The third lesson: human rights
The topic of this lesson was human rights. With several activities we figured out what the fundamental human rights would be.
A quotation from a student’s journal:
” This lesson was important for me because I found the courage to communicate with each other. That was great.”
The fourth lesson: human rights and refugees
The discussion on human rights continued. Another theme closely linked to them is the situation of refugees all around the world.
Written by a student:
“It was interesting to try to imagine life from immigrants’ perspective. By far I have enjoyed the topics of this English Worldwide course a lot because we don’t usually talk about this kind of things on other courses and I think these things are really important to think about.”
22 eager young minds took part in the first English Worldwide course. They wanted to improve their English and learn more about global themes.
The first lesson: planning, introductions and stereotypes
We took quite some time to get to know each other. Everybody had a chance to share some aspects of their life. They told the others about their hobbies, interests at school and future plans. The next step was to see how many interests we had in common. There were plenty!
Next the overall course plan was introduced. The students had a chance to ask questions and express their ideas and wishes. There were not that many…
The final part of the lesson was spent on talking about stereotypes: how to define a stereotype, what sort of stereotypes there can be, and what sort of impact they have on our thoughts and behaviour.
The quotation taken from a student’s journal:
“Today’s first English worldwide lesson was really interesting. I didn’t really know what to expect from the course but it seemed very fun. I’m already excited about meeting new people all around the world and I’m looking forward to improving my English too!
The second lesson: more of stereotypes and tolerance
We continued with the same theme as in the first lesson. The final conclusion of the students was that we all have stereotypes of some sort. They can be silly our outright dangerous. When we learn of other cultures, other ways of life and get to know each other as unique individuals, we have a better possibility to get rid of our misconceptions and understand that a stereotype is not the truth.
We moved on to a theme closely linked with stereotypes: tolerance, or expressed with a more proper word, equality. We talked of the symptoms of intolerance and inequality. It didn’t take long before the group noticed that fundamentally we were talking about human rights.
The quotations are copied from the students’ journals.
“…we had very good conversations…, especially about religion and faith. They really made me think about myself and the stereotypes I unfortunately have.”
“It’s all about accepting, and being accepted by others. Honestly, if you live under a rock and never interact with people with different background than yours, you’ll live a limited and boring life. Stereotypes play the biggest role in this.”