Norway Shooting and the Debate on Multiculturalism (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

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

With Answers! | Download the ESL Lesson plan here: Norway-Shooting-Multiculturalism-UppIntermediate-26072011.doc

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 recovering 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 position on immigration.

Police have found a 1,500-page manifesto, written by Breivik, in which he expresses his extreme views and admiration for far right-wing authors. Many of these writers have since denounced Breivik as a psychopath and distanced themselves from his violent actions.

Saturday’s tragedy has put the spotlight back on the topic of multiculturalism. The works of Canadian right-wing columnist Mark Steyn are referenced in Breivik’s manifesto. Steyn 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 distinct and keep their own identities. Another model, historically associated with the United States, is the melting pot, under which immigrant cultures “melt together” to become a homogenous whole. Recently, right-wing governments in several European countries, notably the Netherlands and Denmark, have reversed national policy and returned to monoculturalism. (263)

 [Original: ,]

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.
denounce (verb)
the spotlight
  • massacre – mass killings
  • tolerant – open-minded, easy
  • manifesto – written statement of political beliefs
  • extreme – radical, fanatical
  • denounce – condemn, criticize, reject
  • the spotlight – the centre of attention, focus
  • assimilation- the act of smaller groups adopting the dominant culture
  • psychopath – crazy person
  • integration – the combination of two things so they work together
  • distinct – distinguishable, unique
  • homogen(e)ous – uniform, unvaried, the same

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

government / uprising
denounce / massacre
political party / tolerant
manifesto / extreme
put / spotlight / multiculturalism
assimilation / homogenous / society
distinct / culture
integration / model
Possible Answers:
  • Right-wing authors have denounced the massacre.
  • The political party was known for its tolerant immigration policies.
  • The manifesto contained many extreme ideas.
  • The massacre has put the spotlight on the topic of multiculturalism.
  • The aim of assimilation is to create a homogen(e)ous society.
  • People in Quebec would like to protect their distinct culture.
  • Janet supports the melting pot model of social integration.
  • Bob’s ex-wife is a complete psychopath.

Multiculturalism ESL Lesson Plan: Debate

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?
7)    How can assimilation be measured?
8)    Do you believe Breivik is insane?

News lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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8 comments on “Norway Shooting and the Debate on Multiculturalism (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

  1. Dave (Posted on 7-30-2011 at 13:52) Reply

    Why do you use the term “right-wing” twice?

  2. admin (Posted on 7-30-2011 at 14:24) Reply

    Perhaps for lack of a better adjective. Or do you mean there’s a mistake somewhere or it should say center-right? If you have suggestions on which sentence should be rewritten, I’d be glad to hear them.

  3. Stuart (Posted on 7-30-2011 at 14:40) Reply

    This lesson plan is just a little biased, don`t you think? The liberal is merely against a ban, the conservative wants to ban immigration! So the `conservative` is the lunatic extremist.

    Why not an alternative plan where the liberal wants open borders and no controls on immigration, whereas the conservative wants to keep borders and have some control? That way the liberal looks like the crazy one.

    It`s not a good idea to bring one`s political prejudices into lessons like this.

    Here`s a personal opinion on a topic like this. With these types of topics people get over-excited and proper English goes out of the window. Great fun for the teacher, everyone gets passionate – and as a learning experience the lesson is fairly worthless.

    1. Jenny (Posted on 7-30-2011 at 15:17) Reply

      Agree entirely with you Stuart. Well said.

    2. John (Posted on 6-22-2014 at 21:25) Reply

      Stuart, your idea to make the lesson less biased is to have "the liberal look like the crazy one."

      Hmmm not really sure that is finding the neural groud.

      Also, "everyone gets passionate – and as a learning experience the lesson is fairly worthless". Are you joking. Emotion increases interest and memory. Where possible bring emotion to the lesson.

      DISagree entirely with Stuart. NOT well said.

  4. admin (Posted on 7-30-2011 at 15:53) Reply

    I can see your point. I’ve removed the labels from the debate section. Thanks for the feedback.

  5. admin (Posted on 7-30-2011 at 18:12) Reply

    I’ve now changed the debate scenario entirely. I was able to think of another scenario (based on immigration requirements in the Netherlands) that centers on the same issue but is less extreme than an all-out ban on immigration. The lesson plan is controversial, yes, hence the warning at the top of the page. Ultimately it is up to the teacher to decide which sections of the lesson plan to use. Thanks again.

  6. Colonel Neville. (Posted on 7-31-2011 at 05:30) Reply

    Are you aware that Fatah/PLO were running a terrorist training camp along with their Marxist socialist leftist pals ON the Norwegian island of Utoya, and for around fifteen years? All the links are here.

    No, really. Colonel Neville.

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