Norway Shooting and the Debate on Multiculturalism (Advanced Lesson Plan)

Note to teachers: This is a sensitive topic. Use only with appropriate classes.

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Multiculturalism Action ESL News Lesson Plan : Warm-up

  1. If you had to move to another country, permanently, where would you go? Why?
  2. Where did your ancestors come from originally? Were they immigrants?
  3. Prior to June 22nd, 2011, what came to mind when you thought of Norway?
  4. How would you describe the major political parties in your country?
  5. Does your city have ethnic areas such as China-town, Little Italy, etc? If so, what do you think of these areas?

Norway Shooting Massacre and the Debate on Multiculturalism (July 26th, 2011)

The world is still reeling from the massacre and bombing in Norway on July 22nd that left 76 people dead. The shooter, Anders Breivik, claimed he was trying to save Europe from multiculturalism and Muslim immigration. He targeted a youth convention, attended by the children of left-wing politicians, in order to punish Norway’s governing Labor Party for its tolerant stance on immigration. 
Police are now poring over a manifesto written by Breivik, The 1,500-page diatribe expresses his radical views and admiration for far right-wing authors. Many of these writers have since denounced Breivik as a lunatic and distanced themselves from his violent actions.
Saturday’s tragedy has thrust the topics of multiculturalism and xenophobia into the limelight. The works of Canadian right-wing columnist Mark Steyn are referenced in Breivik's manifesto. Steyn’s expresses his opinion on immigration in this quotation from August 2002:

“I'm not a racist, only a culturist. I believe Western culture …  is preferable to Arab culture: that's why there are millions of Muslims in Scandinavia, and four Scandinavians in Syria. Follow the traffic. I support immigration, but with assimilation."
In North America, there have traditionally been two models of social integration. One model, labeled the cultural mosaic (or salad bowl) is associated with the Canadian immigration system. Under this model, different cultures mix but remain distinctandkeep their own identities. Another model, historically associated with the United States, is the melting pot, under which immigrant cultures “melt together” to become a homogeneous whole. Recently, right-wing governments in several European countries, notably the Netherlands and Denmark, have reversed national policy and returned to monoculturalism. (266)

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Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan : Comprehension Questions

1)    Why did Breivik choose the island as the site for his shooting?
2)    True or False: Some authors have expressed support for Breivik’s actions.
3)    What is Mark Steyn’s opinion of immigration?
4)    How would you differentiate the cultural mosaic from the melting pot model?
5)    What does a policy of monoculturalism mean?
1 – He chose the island because many children of the Labor Party were there, at a camp. He wanted to punish the Labor Party for their tolerant stance on immigration.
2 – False. The authors have distanced themselves from his actions.
3 – He believes immigrants should assimilate into their local culture.
4 – In a cultural mosaic, the immigrant groups retain their own identities, traditions, and practices. In the melting pot model, these are abandoned for the culture of the dominant majority.
5 – It means that it promotes the idea of one culture, only. A monoculturalist policy would likely be anti-immigration.

Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan : Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
reel (verb)
pore over (verb)
denounce (verb)
  • reel – to feel very shocked or upset
  • stance – position
  • pore over – to look at sth carefully
  • diatribe – long and angry criticism of sb
  • denounce – condemn, criticize, reject
  • lunatic – crazy person
  • thrust – shove, push strongly
  • xenophobia – dislike/fear of people from other countries
  • limelight – the centre of public attention
  • assimilation- the act of smaller groups adopting the dominant culture
  • homogen(e)ous – uniform, unvaried, the same

Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan : Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
denounce / lunatic
manifesto / pore over
xenophobia / thrust / limelight
assimilation / homogeneous / society
public / reel / news
stance / abortion
lunatic / diatribe
Possible Answers:
  • Right-wing authors have denounced Breivik as a lunatic.
  • Police are poring over the 1500 page manifesto.
  • The issue of xenophobia has been thrust into the limelight.
  • The aim of assimilation is to create a homogeneous society.
  • The news about the attack left the public reeling.
  • Robert defended his stance on abortion.
  • The lunatic's diatribe lasted five minutes.

Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan: Debate

Reminder: This is a role-play. Have fun and remember that you don’t have to present your own actual opinion!

Your government has proposed a new restrictive visa system. Under the system, immigrants (and their spouses) will be required to:
  • Pass a language test
  • Pass a “cultural compatibility” exam that involves questions about education, gender equality, homosexuality, and terrorism.
  • Pay a fee of 400 Euros
Student A:
You do not support this idea. Think of reasons to back up your argument. When ready, start the debate by asking your partner what he/she thinks of the government’s new plan.
Student B:
You support this idea. Think of reasons to support your argument. (Your partner will start the conversation.)

Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan: Role-Play

In the past twenty years, many immigrants and refugees have arrived in your country from war-torn countries. These people have not adapted well. Most live in their own communities and do not speak the official national language or follow the local customs. This has made it hard for them to get jobs; many live off money from the state. Work together with your partner and think of ideas that could help these people integrate into society. When finished, present your ideas to the class.

Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan : Discussion Questions

(Write your answers in the Comments section below if you wish).

1)    Does your attitude towards immigration differ from the attitude of the older generation in your country?
2)    Would you describe your country as immigrant-friendly?
3)    Which model of integration – salad bowl, melting pot, or other – do you support?
4)    Is immigrant integration a one-way process?
5)    What conditions should be required for people who want to legally immigrate to your country?
6)    Should illegal immigrants be sent back to homelands that may be unsafe?
8)    How can assimilation be measured?
7)    Do you believe Breivik is insane?

News lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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One comment on “Norway Shooting and the Debate on Multiculturalism (Advanced Lesson Plan)

  1. ^_^' (Posted on 12-17-2014 at 01:49) Reply

    ^^Thank you for expressing yourself so eloquently.

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