These are global justice topics that people really want to talk about: stopping deforestation, making technology fair, refugees around the world, West Africa after Ebola ...
And these powerful images, topical articles, quizzes, infographics, balanced arguments, photo stories and staged Ready Lessons will ensure learners are actively engaged.
1/ One of the best ways to get anyone to talk is to present them with a situation that's clearly not fair, so they are moved to tell someone else about it. Get a group of learners to do one of the QUIZZES in pairs, to see how much they know (about oil, feminism, Africa, banks etc.), then get them to check their own answers with the accompanying infographic or article and discover some more facts they didn't know that they can share.
2/ Good photos can convey a huge amount of powerful emotion and information. Get pairs or small groups to look at and discuss one of the Photo essays to describe the photos to others, 'tell the story' through the pictures or imagine the lives and stories behind the photos (of Multicultural Canada, Afghan Women Rangers, the Norway Ring of Peace, Refugees in Calais or people and places in Tibet, India or Gaza etc).
3/ Get learners to develop their Higher Order Thinking Skills and ability to form a coherent, cohesive argument with the Arguments. They can predict the content of the argument first, then read and make notes to help them prepare, and finally argue in pairs about whether social media is bad for us, if 16 years olds should vote, whether we should bring in a maximum wage or whether celebrities should promote charities etc.). Task repetition is a good idea here, after post-task error correction, as learners should improve each time they argue.
4/ If you want to improve learners' pronunciation with powerful, authentic short phrases, try * "Radical phonology"-making protest banners about really important topics, working on the sounds, stress and intonation, then chanting as a meaningful drill.
5/ Allow learners to choose their own article (or topic / category) to research and then do a short presentation to the others, and/or discuss in groups: about general topics eg. food, health, banking, charities, disability, gender issues; or particular issues eg. particular countries or areas of the world - this thinglink might help: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/743076913542594562, with links to all the Country profiles and Photo essays.
6/ General principles to follow with all the above to develop learners' speaking:
- give learners some preparation time
- set up the interaction pattern to ensure maximum participation of all learners (eg. get all learners standing in 2 concentric circles, each opposite a partner; when you clap, one circle moves round so they get a new partner; repeat as needed!)
- task repetition is great, but ensure there is some change (eg. change of partner/group or slight change of focus/topic) to ensure learners don't get bored
- post-task language focus: the teacher can note down examples of good phrases, structures and vocabulary, and errors, then display these on the board for learners to discuss and learn from afterwards; or record/film and replay to analyse.