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Globalisation EAL SOW

I remember being a student in 2000 during the May Day riots in London. Red and black flags waving, bricks being thrown, lines of riot police and lots of long hairy types defacing the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square. The Daily Mail had a field day.

The protestors’ main grumble? The process of globalisation. Multi-national corporations were sweeping across the globe, enriching their fat cat bosses while harnessing the world’s poorest to work in abhorrent conditions producing the consumer items for a greedy West. One year later the attacks of 9/11 happened and the anti-globalistion movement found it difficult to be heard over the thunder of patriotic rhetoric and tabloid scare mongering.

But the issues with globalisation never went away. They grew, right in front of our eyes. In the falling manufacturing rates, the grumbles of taxi drivers, the opening up of Polish bakeries on British high streets, the soaring progress made by China and India in combatting poverty, in the new foreign owners of British soccer teams.

18 years from those May Day riots and the anti-globalists agenda returned under new management. Right-wing nativists, like Nigel Farage and Marie Le Pen, took these issues and converted them into a vote winning populist mix of anti-immigrant and anti-banker sentiment (helped in no small part by the crash of 2008). In 2016 this movement secured two huge victories in Brexit and Trump.

As a teacher during these years I found it maddening quite how little our students understood the underlying processes of globalisation. How it was contributing to the insecurities that were feeding into the popularity of these new leaders. Now that I am teaching in the Middle East, in a part of the world that has gone from rags to riches precisely because of globalisation, I feel it has become even more important to introduce these concepts to my students. How cheap goods entering Jebel Ali can lead to closed factories in Janesville.

This mini-SOW made for EAL students has a focus on the basic terminology and concepts. I make no apology for the repetitive nature of the vocabulary acquisition activities. As the SOW progresses more opportunities for discussion, group thinking and creative tasks emerge. It is by no means comprehensive. Globalisation is a highly complex process and involves lots of specialist vocabulary – difficult for native speakers but exceedingly tricky for those who speak English as a second language. This is meant to be an introduction only and it does over simplify in a few areas.

With my students I found it did lead to some interesting conversations and the students were able to vocalise their understanding of what are quite abstract notions.

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