The best way to get students talking and practicing their English is to give them an interesting topic. And often the most interesting topics are a bit controversial. So here’s a lesson on that taboo PARSNIPS topic, religion. A beautiful film by filmmaker Lena Khan that shows messages about being Muslim in America becomes a springboard for a discussion about Islam , how it is perceived in the US, and how Muslims try to fight the negative perceptions. All that can then be turned into a student reflection on what group they belong to that is perceived negatively and what they may want to say to the world to refute that perception. These days it seems that our students need exposure to some messages of tolerance and respect for other religions.
You can download and purchase the lesson here: Land Called Paradise: A Film-Based Lesson on Muslims in America
I’ve done this lesson in classes with Muslims, without Muslims and in mixed-classrooms and it always generates discussion. If your classroom is a safe and respectful space, this is a great lesson to get students thinking about what it means and doesn’t mean to follow a religion and how it feels to be stereotyped.
Here’s a brief preview of the lesson:
- To understand song lyrics and meaning
- To understand a short film with a lot of text. To synthesize text and acting/images
- To discuss Islam, religion and cultural misunderstandings
- To create a film correcting misunderstandings and stereotypes the world may have about them
- The film itself
- The complete text of the messages from the film
- “Land Called Paradise” song lyrics cloze exercise
- “Land Called Paradise” song lyrics
Tell students the introduction to the film (or write it on the board).
In December 2007, over 2000 American Muslims were asked what they would wish to say to the rest of the world. This is what they said.
Explain that Lena Khan was planning to make a film about Muslims and their image when she wrote a request for messages to send to the rest of the world on a number of American Muslim e-lists and newsgroups. Ask students what kinds of things she might have received.
See a more in-depth preview and purchase this film-based lesson plan about American Muslisms at my Teachers Pay Teachers storeLiked this post? Check out some of my books on