Modern Languages - Fighting for equal rights

1st February 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Do your pupils know the national motto of France: Liberte, egalite, fraternite? In any language, it makes an excellent topic for discussion or essays, writes Catherine Paver.

Equality is a good focus. Start by giving pupils short biographies of important activists - feminists, gay rights leaders and anti-racism campaigners famous in their own countries.

French students could read about Simone de Beauvoir and her book The Second Sex. German students could find out about anti-racism organisation Aktion Courage.

The origins of equal rights movements are fascinating as they involve extraordinary individuals. Tell pupils about Lucia Sanches Saornil, one of the founders of Mujeres Libres, the 1930s anarchist women's organisation in Spain, which aimed to empower working-class women.

Teenagers have a keen sense of injustice. Spark their interest in those who have fought for equal rights and set tasks on their struggles. Who was the first woman to attend university in Spain? (Concepcion Arenal, who had to dress as a man.) Which French organisation has the anti-racist slogan, Touche pas a mon pote? (SOS Racisme, established 1984.) Which was the first Latin American country to legalise gay marriage? (Argentina, 2010.)

Pupils could present their research in short talks or role-play an interview with the activist, produce posters or write letters of support to equal rights organisations.

What else?

Use alternative vocabulary in this activity from H Benzina. bit.lytesLeRacisme

Explore racism in France and Spain. www.sos-racisme.org

Research important Italian feminists. bit.lyTopItalianFeminists

Study German groups fighting racism and other injustices. bit.lyFightingRacism.

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