Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Walking In Someone Else’s Shoes

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'The guy who lived in his shoes' photo (c) 2009, Ganymedes Costagravas - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)

Empathy, it seems to me, is a pretty important quality to have and to cultivate in others. I’d like to a few resources that can help us do just that, and also invite readers to contribute additional suggestions.

Want to know what English sounds like to a non-English speaker? If you do, check out this video called Prisencolinensinainciusol . It’s a music video made by Italian actor/singer Adriano Celetano that’s supposed to mimic exactly that…and it’s delightful:

Here’s another Italian song performed in English “gibberish.”

In keeping with that theme, check-out these videos showing what animal noises sound like in other languages.

Here’s a “fake English” dialogue:

If you want to get a sense of what it’s like to have a learning disability, go to the PBS website Misunderstood Minds. It lets you try out having reading, writing, attention and mathematics challenges. (Thanks to Karen Janowski for the tip).

Get an idea of what it might be like to have multiple sclerosis at HavingMS.com.

Here’s another site and lesson idea:

How Americans See Europe is a funny, accurate (in the sense that I believe it reflects what many Americans believe), and very sad map showing the stereotypes that many people in the United States have about Europe. My first thought was that it would be great to help teach Perception in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class. And I do think that’s still a good idea.

But then I got to wondering if there was any way I could use it with my English Language Learners.

I don’t think the map itself would be very accessible to them. However, I could adapt the idea.

I’ve written in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work, about having my Hmong refugee students the stories they heard in the Thai camps about the United States (we ate people, etc.). It would be interesting to do a more in-depth lesson with ELL’s the perceptions they think people in their country have of the U.S.– and why. Then they could if they’ve found any to be true. In addition, they could what perceptions they think people here have of their native country, and why.

It could make for some interesting discussions and excellent learning opportunities.

I’m adding several other similar maps to this list:

Mapping European Stereotypes shows many maps of Europe seen through the eyes of people from different parts of Europe. They, too, are funny and insightful.

The World According to San Francisco is another one that can be described the same way.

Anholt-Gfk Roper Nation Brands Index™ tells what a “panel of over 20,000 ordinary people in 20 different countries really think about other countries: the people, the products, the governments, the culture, the education, the tourist attractions and the lifestyle.” It’s pretty accessible.

The Lottery Of Life is a neat site from Save The Children. It gives you a chance to see how your life might have looked if you had been born in another country.

“Experience The Haiti Earthquake” is an impressive interactive from the Canadian organization, Inside Disaster. It lets you virtually “experience” the quake through the eyes of a survivor, a journalist, or an aid worker.

I’ve mentioned the “Mapping Stereotypes: The Geography Of Prejudice” site earlier in this list. They’ve recently added some new maps. Their maps show places as how other see them — how Germans see the rest of Europe, how the U.S. see Europe, etc. In looking at them again, I came up with the idea of having my IB Theory of Knowledge students study the idea of “perception” by using these maps as model and make maps of our school — looking at it through the eyes of a teacher, a freshman, and a senior. It should be interesting.

“If It Were My Home” is a neat interactive that compares the standard of living in the United States to any other country of your choice. The site also has some other neat features.

I’ve learned about the PBS website and film (available online) titled “A Class Divided” (and I learned about it from the excellent resource “TeachersFirst,” which I’ve described on more than one “The Best…” list).

Instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to reprint the description written by TeachersFirst:

This is one of the most requested programs for effectively conveying the reality of discrimination, what it feels like, and how it can change a person. Frontline, the PBS news-magazine show, produced this gripping piece that tackles the controversy, complexity, and consequences of discrimination that have shaped our society. This film and collection of activities are based on the 1970 documentary of the daring lesson that teacher Jane Elliott taught her third-grade class to give them a firsthand experience in the meaning of discrimination, immediately following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The film shows what she taught the children and the impact that lesson had on their lives. It includes three major segments: the footage of the original documentary of Jane Elliott’s third-graders, (approximately 20 minutes), the reunion of those third-graders 14 years later who talk about the effect her lesson has had on their lives, (approximately 7 minutes), and also Elliott teaching her lesson to adult employees of Iowa’s prison system and how their reactions to her exercise were similar to those of the children, (approximately 20 minutes). A Teachers’ Guide, as well as an abundance of supplementary materials that allow students to wrestle with realistic ideas, are available on this site.

“The World of Useless Stereotypes” is from The New York Times.

Lindsey suggested this two-part film called “Babakiueria.” As she describes it, it ” is a satirical portrayal of white and Aboriginal interactions in Australia, through a role reversal in which whites are the minority.”

How Europeans Know You’re American is a slideshow from LIFE.

What’s it like to be 75 years old? Try this on is an intriguing article about a suit for designers so they get a sense of what it feels to be…75 years old. Here’s the video that goes along with the article:

Here’s a fun music video shot with a camera on a dog. It’s a light-hearted addition to this list.

Johnny Neon ‘Hearts’ from Dave Meinert on Vimeo.

You Are Blind is a site designed to give the user the experience of having vision loss. It’s received a lot of praise, though I think it may be over-hyped a bit.

Here’s how the creators of this video describe it:

Some people with autism have difficulty processing intense, multiple sensory experiences at once. This animation gives the viewer a glimpse into sensory overload, and how often our sensory experiences intertwine in everyday life.

Created as part of Mark Jonathan Harris’ and Marhsa Kinder’s “Interacting with Autism.” Coming in January 1st 2013, IWA is a three-year transmedia project funded by the federal Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ). University Professor Marsha Kinder, the Executive Director of the Labyrinth Project at USC, and Mark Harris are heading a team of filmmakers and artists working to build an interactive, video intensive website that will focus on the best available treatments for autism.

Here are a few useful links on empathy:

Barack Obama and the ‘empathy deficit’ is from The Guardian.

Understanding How Children Develop Empathy is from The New York Times.

Empathy vs. sympathy is from The Grammarist.

What is it like being a dog chasing tennis balls in a pool? Here’s a lighthearted addition to this list:

What does it look like to be played from a trombone’s perspective:

Try Being Me is a BBC site for children that they describe as being an “interactive dyslexia experience” where users get a taste of what it might be look to have dyslexia.

The Colour Blindness Simulator does what it says.

Here are two important commentaries on U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s recent changing of his position on gay marriage — one is very serious, and the other makes a serious point very humorously.

Auti-Sim describes itself like this:

The player navigates through a playground as an autistic child with auditory hypersensitivity. Proximity to loud children causes sensory overload for the player, impacting cognitive functions. This impact is represented as visual noise and blur, as well as audio distortion. Participants described the experience as visceral, insightful and compelling.

Here’s an ABC news video clip a portion of the game:

Here’s another example of how English might sound to non-English speakers:

Depression Quest is an interactive text fiction game (or choose your own adventure) where the player plays the part of someone who is suffering from depression. I learned about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

The WolframAlpha search engine has a widget that lets you pretty much choose any object and see it through a dog’s eyes (you can read about why they have such poor vision here).

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I’ve embedded the widget that lets you do it here:

This Strange Suit Simulates the Weight of Old Age is from The Smithsonian.

See Second Wind for more information about the dementia experience.

These images show just how differently cats and humans see the world is from io9.

i_hereby_declare_that_all_cute_bunnies_be_classified_as_nonhuman_persons

created by Abstruse Goose

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

How Animals See the World is from Nautilus.

Do you know of other similar resources?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

15 Comments

  1. Larry,

    The documentary of a grade 4 classroom in Japan – “Children full of joy” is all about empathy. No greater document that needs to be viewed by teachers than this! It has won many awards and I show it to all my prospective and inservice teachers. This film always makes such an impact. Find it in 5 parts on my institute’s site – http://setiteachers.ning.com/video/video

    David

  2. Walking in someone’s else shoes requires of a theory of mind or tha ability to attribute mental states to oneself and the others. People with autism spectrum have serious difficulties in this ability. I would like to find online games for children to help to take the perspective of another. This is an exemple: http://www.jacobslessons.com/frog.htm. I don’t know if this reply belongs to this kind of list or to another.

    Rosa Esteve
    Barcelona

  3. Here is a great site that talks about how the experience of violence (e.g., bullying, abuse,) affects learning and the ability to function in school. The link below is to some simulations of how learners dealing with violence might react. (spacing out/acting out, etc.)
    http://www.learningandviolence.net/impact/spacing.htm

  4. Great sites! Just the other day I was looking for a resource that provided information about what people in other countries thought about the US. The website you posted does that, and so much more! Any thoughts on where I might find a site with actual quotes and more detailed opinions about America?

  5. “My Brown Eyes” (1994) by director Jay Koh is a short film that depicts a school day in the life of a newly arrived young Korean immigrant. It’s a bit dated: would love to see a more updated film or series of short films like this one.

  6. Here are some great ones that I’ve found:
    http://www.storiography.com/english-dreams/ (story of an English-language class in Japan)
    http://www.rferl.org/archive/Project_Hijab/latest/3248/3248.html (Muslim women around the world talk about why they do or do not choose to wear the Islamic head scarf)

    I hope that my own blog lets you peek into the lives of other people as well. International students studying in the U.S. write about what their experience has been like. http://blogs.voanews.com/student-union

  7. I use this site with 7th graders – http://archive.itvs.org/beyondthefire/. It is pretty powerful for them to hear a teen talk about living in war, and good practice with primary sources. I have my students write a response to the questions. You can also allow them to post answers on the site.

  8. This ability has been declining fast in our society. With both parents working, children are not getting the emotional support and nurturing they need to emotionally mature. Emotionally immature people lack the ability to feel concern or compassion for others but are thoroughly consumed by their own overwhelming sense of unfulfilled need. As a double damnation, their immaturity and personality inadequacies are later seen as reasons to hate/shun which ensures that they continue to go unloved.

  9. In my opinion, empathy is one of the single most important traits a human being can have. No one knows about someone or why they do what they do without seeing the world from their eyes. I am related to a person who hates just about every group there is, other than her own white, Christian, middle class group. At the same time, I try to see why she is the way she is. She is devoid of empathy, but I can’t let that effect me, even if I don’t belong to her strict approval group. She is a product of her upbringing, lack of education and ignorance. I don’t agree with her outlook. I do still accept her as part of my family and choose to treat her with the respect she fails to give in return. Thank you for putting a spot light on empathy.

  10. Pingback: efl-resource.com » ELT news feed » Great resource for lessons on other cultures and people

  11. This brown eyes blue eyes exercise is riveting. Jane Elliott has done this exercise with very young children, young adults and adults in the workplace. All with eerily similar results.

    There is a great facilitator’s package for using with adults called Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes: Linking Perceptions & Performance available from http://www.trainerstoolchest.com that helps in moving this exercise from awareness into action in the workplace.

    The original version too – Eye of the Storm – has a great subtext message of the pygmalion effect and the self-fulfilling prophesy.

  12. As a pre-service teacher, one of our university classes was about this very topic, and involved discussing prejudices and many types of discrimination. In Alberta, Canada, this involved discussions of Aboriginal prejudice and discrimination in our society.

    As part of that course, we watched a video called “Babakiueria,” which is a satirical portrayal of white and Aboriginal interactions in Australia, through a role reversal in which whites are the minority. It can be found on Youtube and is definitely worth a watch!

    Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyEYqb7L48o
    Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpbiWCAc9Dc&feature=related

  13. The title of this blog caught my attention for two reasons: 1) I love To Kill a Mockingbird and 2) I am in the process of teaching a unit on justice. As I had hoped, many of these resources complement it. My students have been reading books, mostly nonfiction, about various historical injustices, and we have been talking a lot about stereotypes and how they contribute to such injustices; so, for example, “Mapping Stereotypes: The Geography of Prejudice” and your suggestion to have students make their own maps definitely seems relevant. In fact, we recently watched the following TED talk about the danger of the single story that results from such stereotypes: http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html
    Thanks!

  14. As a home school teacher of a teen with ASD and a teacher of ESL, I found your website helpful and interesting.

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