Teaching Tips 169
Women On The Bridge
It's Internaional Women's Day again (http://www.internationalwomensday.com), the 100th anniversary of the first time it was celebrated. Below is a lesson plan that uses an article on the history of the Day.
'Join Me On The Bridge' is one of the many projects for the Day. To an article explaining it: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-
Also a video, probably not for classroom use due to the description of abuse, at:
Geena Davis encorages women to join the march:
Here is some material taken, with permission, from
the United Nations Cyber School Bus website with ideas on
how to use it
There is quite a lot of text
- two different sections; the first talks of why we have
Women's Day & the second how the Day came about. I have
chosen to use the first orally & the second as a reading
text. And perhaps you might like to shorten the second text
& only use the first part, until the dotted line.
1. Introduction - rank the women in order of their contribution to women's
right. Stds in pairs rank the women. Feedback.
2. Elicit what Women's Day
is & when it falls & anything the stds might know
about it. Some visuals on the board would help everyone
3. Read the first text aloud -
stds listen. Then they compare ideas on what they heard
- maybe read again if requested.
4. Set the reading task - to identify what the given dates
refer to as quickly as possible. Give out text & dates. Check & reading task.
5. Stds compare answers.
6. General feedback & discussion of the events as you
work through the dates - picking up on reactions, anything
7. Vocabulary - stds in pairs/small groups underline vocabulary
specifically related to Women's Day & protest. Encourage
the stds to work meaning out from the context & have
dictionaries on hand if they need to confirm their guesses.
See below for a selection of related vocab
from the text.
8. Feedback. You might also like to exploit the reading
text for some grammar areas.
9. Discussion - could begin in small groups & then bring
all together for a class discussion - see later for ideas
on discussion points.
Rank the following women in order of their contribution
to women's rights & be prepared to justify your
decisions - Margaret Thatcher, Emilia Earhart, Mother
Theresa, Princess Diana, Eva Peron, Madonna, .....put
here some famous women from you country.
Why dedicate a day exclusively
to the celebration of the world's women?
The United Nations General Assembly, composed of
delegates from every Member State, celebrates International
Women's Day to recognize that peace and social progress
require the active participation and equality of women,
and to acknowledge the contribution of women to international
peace and security.
For the women of the world, the Day is an occasion
to review how far they have come in their struggle
for equality, peace and development.
You might think that women's equality benefits mostly
women, but every one-percentile growth in female secondary
schooling results in a 0.3 percent growth in the economy.
Yet girls are often kept from receiving education
in the poorest countries that would best benefit from
the economic growth.
Until the men and women work together to secure the
rights and full potential of women, lasting solutions
to the world's most serious social, economic and political
problems are unlikely to be found.
In recent decades, much progress has been made. On
a worldwide level, women's access to education and
proper health care has increased; their participation
in the paid labor force has grown; and legislation
that promises equal opportunities for women and respect
for their human rights has been adopted in many countries.
The world now has an ever- growing number of women
participating in society as policy-makers.
However, nowhere in the world can women claim to
have all the same rights and opportunities as men.
The majority of the world's 1.3 billion absolute
poor are women.
On average, women receive between 30 and 40 per cent
less pay than men earn for the same work.
And everywhere, women continue to be victims of violence,
with rape and domestic violence listed as significant
causes of disability and death among women of reproductive
Read the article quickly & decide what events the following dates refer to.
8 March 1857
8 March 1908
28 February 1909
19 March 1911
25 March 1911
the last Sunday in February 1913
23 February 1917
27 February 1917
Vocabulary connected to the lexical
expansion and turbulence
booming population growth
staged a protest
inhumane working conditions
marched through NY City
demanding shorter work hours, better pay voting rights
and an end to child labour
the declaration of the Socialist Party of America
an international conference
an International Day to mark the strike
the proposal was greeted with unanimous approval
established to honour the movement
the right to vote
a series of rallies
they demanded the right to work and an end to discrimination
on the job
lack of safety measures
led many protests
the peace movement brewing on the eve of
to express solidarity with
opposed the timing of the strike
granted the right to vote
How It Happened -
A Brief History of International Women's Day
The idea of an International Women's Day first arose
at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized
world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming
population growth and radical ideologies.
On 8 March 1857, women working in clothing and textile
factories (called 'garment workers') in New York City,
in the United States, staged a protest. They were
fighting against inhumane working conditions and low
wages. The police attacked the protestors and dispersed
them. Two years later, again in March, these women
formed their first labour union to try and protect
themselves and gain some basic rights in the workplace.
On 8 March 1908, 15,000 women marched through New
York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay,
voting rights and an end to child labour. They adopted
the slogan "Bread and Roses", with bread
symbolizing economic security and roses a better quality
of life. In May, the Socialist Party of America designated
the last Sunday in February for the observance of
National Women's Day.
Following the declaration of the Socialist Party
of America, the first ever National Woman's Day was
celebrated in the United States on 28 February 1909.
Women continued to celebrate it on the last Sunday
of that month through 1913.
An international conference, held by socialist organizations
from around the world, met in Copenhagen, Denmark,
in 1910. The conference of the Socialist International
proposed a Women's Day which was designed to be international
in character. The proposal initially came from Clara
Zetkin, a German socialist, who suggested an International
Day to mark the strike of garment workers in the United
States. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval
by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries,
including the first three women elected to the parliament
of Finland. The Day was established to honour the
movement for women's rights, including the right to
vote (known as 'suffrage'). At that time no fixed
date was selected for the observance.
The declaration of the Socialist International had
an impact. The following year, 1911, International
Women's Day was marked for the first time in Austria,
Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The date was March
19 and over a million men and women took to the streets
in a series of rallies. In addition to the right to
vote and to hold public office, they demanded the
right to work and an end to discrimination on the
Less than a week later, on 25 March, the
tragic Triangle Fire in New York City took place.
Over 140 workers, mostly young Italian and Jewish
immigrant girls working at the Triangle Shirtwaist
Company, lost their lives because of the lack of safety
measures. The Women's Trade Union League and the International
Ladies' Garment Workers Union led many of the protests
against this avoidable tragedy, including the silent
funeral march which brought together a crowd of over
100,000 people. The Triangle Fire had a significant
impact on labour legislation and the horrible working
conditions leading up to the disaster were invoked
during subsequent observances of International Women's
As part of the peace movement brewing on the eve
of World War I, Russian women observed their first
International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February
1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of
the following year, women held rallies either to protest
the war or to express solidarity with their sisters.
With 2 million Russian soldiers dead in the war,
Russian women again chose the last Sunday in February
1917 to strike for "bread and peace". Political
leaders opposed the timing of the strike, but the
women went on anyway.
The rest is history: Four days later the Czar of
Russia was forced to abdicate and the provisional
Government granted women the right to vote. That historic
Sunday fell on 23 February on the Julian calendar
then in use in Russia, but coincided with 8 March
on the Gregorian calendar used by people elsewhere.
Since those early years, International Women's Day
has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed
and developing countries alike.
In December 1977 the UN General Assembly adopted
a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for
Women's Rights and International Peace. Four global
United Nations women's conferences have helped make
the demand for women's rights and participation in
the political and economic process a growing reality.
In 1975 the UN drew global attention to women's concerns
by calling for an International Women's year and convening
the first conference on women in Mexico City. Another
convention was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1980.
In 1985, the UN convened a third conference on women
in Nairobi, Kenya, to look at what had been achieved
at the end of the decade.
In 1995, Beijing hosted the Fourth World Conference
on Women. Representatives from 189 different countries
agreed that inequalities between women and men has
serious consequences for the well-being of all people.
The conference declared a set of goals for progress
of women in various areas including politics, health,
and education. The final document issued by the conference
(called the "Platform for Action") had this
to say: "The advancement of women and the achievement
of equality between women and men are a matter of
human rights and a condition for social justice and
should not be seen in isolation as a women's issue."
Five years later, in a 23rd special session of the
United Nations General Assembly, "Women 2000:
Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st
Century" reviewed the progress the world has
made towards achieving the goals set out by the Beijing
conference. This conference has come to be known as
the "Beijing +5" conference. Delegates found
both progress and perservering obstacles. The delegates
made further agreements to continue carrying out the
initiatives of the 1995 women's conference.
With your partner(s), consider the following points:
1. Is there a need in your country to celebrate Women's
Day? Why (not)?
2. What can we do to help women's rights?
3. What could your government do to help?
4. What could be done in schools to help?
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Heroic times in the Arab worlds. Dictators fall, & hopefully their regimes stay fallen, while others continue or begin their struggle for basic freedoms. All need our support. Numerous videos are appearing on the internet of the atrocities in Bahrain & Libya, peaceful demonstrators being shot dead, maimed & beaten. The courage being shown on the streets is amazing while the rest of the world sit & watch & hope. There's a great deal on the internet - blogs, Twitter, Facebook .... - & where we can show our support. Here's one web page among many:
Found through Twitter - @Zeinobia
A catchy music video made during the Egyptian demonstrations has gone viral & is fast becoming the song of the revolutions. CNN interview the musicians in English & you can see the actual video on the same page:
A good focus on the theme.
Let's hope that really 'the times they are a-changin''.
On the 21st it's International Mother Tongue Language Day & for classroom ideas on this see the past Tip:
We have also had a couple of Tips that deal with using the mother tongue in the classroom:
But I don't speak their language!
There are lots of ideas on exploiting the students' mother tongue in a monolingual class. But what about a multilingual class? How can we know half of our students' mother tongues? Is it worth exploiting this difference between the students? I think so. Teachers tend to be frightened of so many mother tongues in the multilingual class & so banish any reference to it. Here are a couple of ideas that help exploit & incorporate it, enriching the classroom.
1. encourage the students to discuss the differences between their mother tongues & English as they crop up. This will lead to the sharing of cultures in the classroom & foster a good group dynamic.
2. when teaching grammar, after getting different nationalities to discuss the aspects you are focussing on, get them into same nationality groups to discuss what the differences & similarities might be in their mother tongue. For homework, the students confirm their ideas with reference books & internet sources. Don't forget to come back to it in the next lessons to make sure all are fine with the grammar point. The problem with the multilingual class is when wrong assumptions about translations are reinforced, so care is needed.
3. students do roleplays in front of the class in their mother tongue & then all discuss how much they understood & why - a nice way of getting into paralinguistics in the different cultures. They then all do the roleplays in English.
4. students do a roleplay but take on an accent from someone else in the class. Or they read a dialogue/have a roleplay in their mother
tongue but use an English accent. Follow with discussions on accent,
other aspects of phonology. See:
5. the writing skill is different from culture to culture so exploit this richness by eliciting & discussing how a genre or way of writing is carried out in the different cultures of the students.
6. set up mother tongue specific activities. The book 'Learner English' by Swan & Smith (CUP) is excellent for finding out differences between English & other languages. Pronunciation problems to work on would be an obvious choice. This could be carried out inter-culturally, by getting students to teach each other, so those that don't have the difficulty teach those that do, making sure that all have something to teach. Clearly this would take time to prepare.
There is a review of 'Learner English' on the site:
The book 'English Pronunciation in Use Advanced' by Martin Hewings (CUP) encourages students to reflect on pronunciation areas in their own language e.g. in the 'Follow up' sections: 'Listen to conversations in your own language and....', 'do you use the same in your own language...' etc.
7. There are lots of imaginative monolingual & multilingual mother tongue class ideas in the excellent 'Using the Mother Tongue' by Sheelagh Deller & Mario Rinvolucri (Delta Publishing). There is a review of the book on the site at:
To get hold of 'Learner English' by Swan & Smith (CUP):
To get hold of 'English Pronunciation in Use Advanced' by Martin Hewings (CUP):
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A bit of
Once you have built up a healthy classroom dynamic it is something that needs thought & work to maintain. This involves many things on a day to day basis but then we can also use specific tasks to develop relationships. Here are a couple of activities from one of my favourite resource books for teachers, 'Classroom Dynamics' by Jill Hadfield (OUP). They are in the section 'I did it your way: empathy activities'.
The first is called 'I am you' & asks students to write about each other. Here are some examples from the handout:
Imagine you are your partner & complete the sentences.
I like the colour _______ because ________.
My favourite time of day is _______.
When I was at school I used to _______.
I enjoy _______.
I particularly dislike ______.
When they have written, they give them to their partners to see how near they were in their predictions. Lots of fun.
It is better to use the activity if the students know each other well.
The second task is called 'If I were you...', It is similar to the idea above in that the students complete the sentences for their partner. For example:
|If I found some money in the street I would _______.
If I could travel anywhere in the world I would _______.
If I won a lot of money I would ________.
a perfect day for me would be one where _______.
Another activity is called 'Ghostwriters' & here the students interview each other & then write their partner's autobiography as if they were them. They then swap & discuss.
Not only do these kind of tasks promote a healthy atmosphere but they also provide specific language practice. Try them out, your students will be sure to enjoy them.
To get hold of 'Classroom Dynamics' by Jill Hadfield (OUP):
For Valentine's Day material:
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