(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)*
Some reasons why students seemed stimulated by this discussion:
1) Since almost all the students were living away from home, they were able to relate to the challenge of connecting to new people.
2) They seemed interested in hearing how their classmates were coping with living away from home: some loved it and some felt lonely.
3) They enjoyed discussing how social media is both helpful and harmful especially concerning making connections to people.
4) They seemed surprised that some of their classmates are not especially connected to their family members.
Here is the basis for this discussion: According to research, loneliness has little connection to how many people are around us. In his book, Lost Connections, Jonathan Hari explains that loneliness is caused by a loss of connection to others. To end loneliness, according Hari, we need two things: other people and a feeling that we are sharing something meaningful or something we care about with another person or other people.
This and future discussion activities include four parts:
1) A one-page article usually including a brief summary of a high-interest research study.
2) Ten true-false comprehension questions.
3) Pre-Discussion Exercise in which students read and think about several questions about their experience and opinions about the topic before discussing them in groups.
4) Small-group discussions of the article in which each student is given a paper with different content/personal experience questions in the form of Student A, B or C.
Bonus for this Discussion Activity 2: Paraphrasing exercise.
About Discussion Activity 2: Loneliness Might Not Be What You Think and the handout.
Here is an excerpt from the article
8 Hari is concerned that many people today aren’t connected with others. Researchers asked Americans of all different ages a two-part question: how many people are close enough to you that (1) you could ask for help if something terrible happened to you, and (2) that you could share really good things that happened to you? A few decades ago, the average number of close friends was three. Recently, the average was none.
Here are some of the personal experience discussion questions that students will discuss.
Pre-discussion Exercise 2
Think about these discussion questions. You don’t have to write anything.
- Do you feel a connection to your family members?
- Let’s talk about feeling stress and increased heart rates. Do you sometimes feel these?
- Have you seen the “Nobody can help you except you,” comment on social media? Do you agree with it?
- Did you ever feel lonely when you were younger?
- Do you think social media can cause loneliness or can it keep people from being lonely?
- Think about someone you feel connected to. What do you share that is meaningful or that you are interested in?
Here is the link to the complete activity:
Notice: I’ve also included some short essay-type questions for practice with paraphrasing at the end of the attachment.
To make group discussion most successful, see these postings for activities
. Conversation magic: Two most important conversation techniques (Part 1)
. Conversation magic: Two most important techniques. (Part 2)
. Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 1)
. Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 2)
Also see this posting Want Your Students to Seem More Likeable? Research Says: Teach Them Follow-up Questions
*About the free-download materials. During my 40 years of teaching ESL, I have had many colleagues who were very generous with their time, advice and materials. These downloads are my way of paying it forward.