Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Discussing The Morality Of Torture

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I was originally going to publish this “The Best…” list in June and time it with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26th — sponsored by the United Nations.

However, the furor accompanying last week’s release by the Obama administration detailing the “brutal interrogation techniques” (a description that many news organizations have used, including The New York Times) used by the United States on terrorist suspects has prompted me to create this list sooner.

This list is a little different from most of my other ones, since many of these materials will need to be modified by teachers to be made accessible to English Language Learners (however, several are usable without modification). It was difficult to find good resources that would be accessible to ELL’s. I decided to make this list, though, because I think this public attention offers a great learning opportunity for all students, including my own. Plus, I figured I could use some of these resources in the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class that I’ll be teaching next school year.

Some of the videos show graphic content that would not be appropriate for younger students.

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For Learning & Discussing The Morality of Torture (not in order of preference):

The New York Times has a short and surprising accessible article reporting on President Obama’s speech at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters today explaining why he released the memos describing the interrogation techniques and why the United States will not use torture. The Times also has a lengthy, and less accessible, video of the speech.

The NY Times also has a graphic explaining the interrogation techniques, but it’s probably only accessible to advanced English Language Learners.

MSNBC has a slideshow of images from the Abu Graib prison in Iraq. Some of them are pretty graphic, so you probably want to review it before showing it to students.

This is an online video clip that’s fairly well-know from Current TV. The reporter allows himself to get waterboarded.

This infographic also shows how waterboarding is done.

What Is Torture? comes from Slate Magazine. It’s not accessible to ELL’s, but it does have a simple image for each example it describes that might be useful.

I’m very impressed by this book, in pdf form, from Amnesty International. It was published in 1985, but the lessons and materials look terrific. It’s called Torture by governments: a seven part educational guide for high schools.

PBS has a lesson plan related to Abu Graib and an online video called The Torture Question.

Breaking News English has a lesson on torture that provides audio support for the text.

The same lesson has a follow-up online exercise.

English Club has a good introduction to a lesson on torture that can be used in the classroom.

Live Science has an interesting article titled Torture Has A Long History…Of Not Working.

The New York Times Learning Network (which is on The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet list) just published a good classroom lesson plan on torture, which can be modified for ELL’s.  It’s called The Torture Question. The article Torture Versus War goes along with it.

A Timeline Of Torture
is a slideshow from Newsweek Magazine.

CNN has an interactive illustrating several interrogation methods that are considered torture by many.

I’ve added a CNN slideshow of images from Abu Graib to this list.

Do It Yourself Waterboarding is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article titled Six Songs Used to Torture and Intimidate lists some music that has been used to…torture and intimidate.  Playing some of those songs and discussing why they might have been used that way could make for an engaging lesson.

Torture Injuries is a CNN video.

Ten Things To Know About Torture is an infographic.

The New York Times has a video interview with a former U.S. interrogator that is very interesting, though challenging for ELLs.

Study: Torture often produces false information, more intense post-traumatic stress disorders

June the 26th is International Day in Support of Torture Victims is a lesson plan specifically for English Language Learners.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for your Tweet which linked me to your site. I’m following you and my son on Twitter.

    I highly recommend “The Question of Torture” by Alford McCoy. He is a professor at University of Wisconsin, USA. This book is rather recent. He covers the history of torture not only in the USA but in France and other places.

    This book may not be suitable for ESL students but is certainly worth while reading. By the way I’m an ESL tutor. I’ve been doing that since Sept. 1994 when I retired.

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