Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do English Teachers World Wide Remember September 11th?

What Happened in New York City on September 11, 2001?

When I posed this question to my classes of EFL learners today, their responses were swift and pointed. Colombia, the country where I currently live and work, is also a location under the heavy hand of terrorism and repeated terrorist acts. EFL learners here are all too keenly aware of terrorism in its many forms in a number of other countries worldwide. Mexico may lead the world in kidnappings, but Colombia is a not-too-distant second. The Middle East endures its share of car bombings, public explosions and other types of terrorist acts. Colombia too has been experiencing an unwelcomed increase in its already too high kidnapping rate and the quantity of “incidental” bombings of public buildings, shopping centers and military or police-related installations. Support towers for high-tension power transmission fall to explosives, blacking out energy sources for hundreds of thousands of consumers. Here however, it may take days or at times weeks, to restore power to remote communities.

A Quick Recap of Events

As you might well recall, at 8:46 am on the morning of September 11, 2001, two airliners, American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the North tower and United Airlines flight 175 crashed into the South tower of the World Trade Center in New York City seventeen minutes later at 9:03 am. This deliberate act of terrorism officially caused the deaths of some 2749 people. Some of these victims had no remains to be buried and some others may never be identified. In the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, another flight, American Airlines flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. A fourth suicide mission by Al-Qaeda was attempted with the hijacking of United Airlines flight 93 but that effort was thwarted by courageous actions of the passengers and crew who all died in the ensuing crash at Shanksville, Pennsylvania as heroes in their efforts to avert another major tragedy and massive loss of life. The Twin Towers as they are often referred to, were the tallest buildings in the world from 1972 to 1973.

Two of my friends died in the WTC that day. However, out of my continued respect for their families and to aid in avoiding a reccurance of the pain and sorrow their deaths caused, I will not name them here.

The Effects of Terrorism Locally and Abroad

The ongoing and residual effects of terrorism locally and abroad may not seem to be a relevant EFL topic at first, but many learners find it a cathartic release for discussing many related problems in globalization. If the problem is particularly poignant in your locale, it might be a topic students wish to speak out on. Any act of terrorism or violation of Human Rights, wherever it may occur in the world, should be condemned. Open discussion of this and related topics may not always be pleasant, but are often stimulating and can evoke genuine emotion from learners like few other topics can. I took the time to broach the events of September 11, 2001 with my EFL learners today and during other days this week. Whether or not you choose t do so, you should be aware of the possibilities for expressing opinions and evoking discussions with your learners on controversial topics. Perhaps some of your EFL learners were too young or ill-informed to remember these events. If you feel it would be useful and appropriate, have them investigate and report on these or other related events. They can view videos, read news reports and survivor, eyewitness or family accounts on the internet. You just might be surprised at what a difference it might make to your EFL learners.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

No comments: