Travel Grant Series: Bringing Social Issues into a Language Classroom

By Man-chiu Lin

This summer, I explored the possibilities of incorporating social issues into a language classroom in Ubon Rajathanee University in Thailand. Students practiced writing argumentative essays while engaged themselves in active discussion on social & environmental issues like “Thai elephants in tourism” and “globalization & sex trade.” Through role-play activities in class, students are encouraged to broaden their perspective and think critically.

In the final project of the course, “Change the World with Your Pen,” students identified one social issue of their interest and constructed a position paper on it. Topics chosen were like the Effects of Global Warming on Thailand, Alternative Energy in Thailand, Goodbye Plastic, the Problem of Girls in KhonKaen Province: Why they Work in a Pub, etc.

To complete the essay, one student, Du, actually went to KhonKaen Province and interviewed her friends working in the pub. Another student, Pravit, reviewed in-depth articles in the discipline of social science in order to better understand the effects of global warming on Thailand.

Informed of my study in international cultural studies in EWC, I tried to bring in critical perspectives into my language classroom and encourage students to think and write critically. Although there is still a lot of room for improvement in regards to curriculum design and implementation, this pilot study is not only potentially meaningful to my Thai students but also inspiring in my own professional growth as a transformative intellectual.