The lucky country. Bright weather, bright people, bright future.
Those were the messages that were consistently drummed into me as a young person growing up on this island continent. But as Iva Davies would tell you, it can also be a prisoner island hidden in the summer for a million years.
For all its brightness, this is a country with a shadow; and nowhere is that shadow more evident in the geographical and spiritual red centre of things, in a town called Alice.
The English Oz materials and activities on this page represent a collection of learning resources that can hopefully bring this issue to the ESL classroom. You can cherry pick from them as you please, or tie some or all of them together to create a larger ongoing project. Generally speaking the resources are selected and sequenced in a logical way that helps explore what is a very complex issue via a series of interlocked steps.
The first three resources target listening skills and align well with Certificate III in ESL (Access) unit VPAU503 (Give and respond to a range of straightforward instructional and informational texts) - in particular Element 1: Interpret an informational oral text.
The three that follow that are geared towards VPAU505 (Read and write a range of straightforward informational, instructional and other texts), in particular Element 1: Analyse a range of informational texts.
The astute teacher will also find ways to tie in speaking and writing elements from the various units in a nicely integrated way; the opportunities to do so are there in abundance.
At the very bottom of the page you will find a resource to facilitate the ESL Elective unit VPAU560: Investigate Current Issues, with the preceding materials and activities making for a nice resource list to draw on and (again) useful opportunities to extend out into speaking and writing elements.
All the relevant performance criteria has been built into the resource sheets, and you will find both blank versions for students and a TG version with some notes to help you scaffold the learners through the activities.
Okay, let's start with a bit of a contrast, shall we? Two very different sides to a red centre coin...
1. Get ceNTred in the Red Centre
Nothing like a good tourism advertisement, is there? Present the following video to the learners and apply the activity resource that follows:
2. Alice Springs in Crisis
Hang on... What happened to the lovely hot air balloons? And the glasses of bubbly and sparkling stars at night? And the amazing galleries of indigenous art?
Trouble in paradise...
3. The NT Intervention - Four Years On
So, poor old Alice is copping it because indigenous people can't drink out on their home turf and need to head into town... So has the so-called INTERVENTION improved the situation out in the camps, and was it worth the price of applying the equivalent of apartheid?
4. Australia restores race discrimination act
So let's get closer to the bottom of this whole idea of interventions and race discrimination acts. The BBC are sure to be a nicely reliable outside impartial observer, surely...
5. Abbott calls for new intervention
Evidently once wasn't enough. The leader of Australia's federal opposition party says he has the solutions...
(This resource is excellent because it features a recorded interview and the full written transcript):
6. The Dead Heart
A song by one of Australia's most popular bands of all time, whose lead singer eventually decided to go into politics... Spot the current Federal Minister for Education in the clip, but also look at the lyrics and take a journey into the dying soul of a fiercely proud people.
(Another good one for blending reading and listening, and your students might enjoy a song at this point if they've been wading through the texts and listenings above):
7. In the shadow of the red centre
So, what's the issue exactly? What is the significance? What do your learners make of it all?
Here's where you can tie on an ESL Elective Unit incorporating current issues in Australia, bringing together the 'research' conducted above and coming up with some conclusions. The material can then become a drafting process for a writing element or an oral presentation or discussion of some sort:
As I said at the beginning of the post, lots to choose from or work through here, but there are certainly multiple opportunities to help your learners meet a plethora of their ESL outcomes through this sequence of activities.
More importantly, the dialogue about how Australia handles its indigenous people needs to continue. Goodness knows the locals (both newer and older) haven't come up with too many effective answers; perhaps the newest migrants of all might have some better suggestions...