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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Using Photos as Prompts for Discussion

Yesterday I came across the following slideshow of photos by Samuel Aranda in the New York Times. The photos are black and white shots of scenes occurring around Spain that highlight the desperation some are living due to the financial crisis that began in 2008. Some of the photos may seem shocking, especially to those that have lived in Spain during the long boom period, being more reminiscent of a country in political conflict or of say 50 years ago. This gave me the idea of using these photos in class, with teens and adults but without providing the context behind them. I plan to show some of the photos (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14), asking the following questions:

Who are these people?
Where are they? (In which country/city?)
When was the photo taken?
What is happening?
Why do you think this is happening? What are the reasons behind it?

I will encourage them to give reasons for their answers, describing what they see.

I am fairly sure that none of my students will recognise these photos as being taken recently in Spain.

I will then give students the information provided underneath each photo on slips of paper, which they have to match with the photos. Hopefully this will generate some discussion.

As I will be using this activity with B2-C1 levels, I may ask students to write:

a) A discursive composition on the problems Spain currently faces
b) A report outlining the main problems Spain faces and possible solutions (a hard one, seeing as the government aren't able to provide any!)
c) A story based on one of the photographs
d) A diary entry of one of the people in the photographs
e) An account of the eviction in photo 1 from the point of view of one of the children

I know that this is a complex topic and one that teenagers will find difficult, but we all know people who have lost their jobs or aren't being paid, we all see it daily on the news so I think that everyone will have something to say.
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