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The Nobelity Project

Writer(s): 
Robert H. Taferner, Tama University, School of Global Studies

 

[M]y children … trust me to tell them the truth about the world. But who can I trust? The media? Big business? Politicians? Seems like everyone’s got an agenda. And every year my kids’ questions get harder and harder to answer. What I need is some back-up… someone who really gets the big picture. And I do mean BIG picture.(Pipkin, 2005)

Through grassroots movements initiated by individuals, NGOs, or NPOs, supported by organizations such as UNESCO, we all can participate in alleviating the problems that dominate our thoughts—yet leave us feeling powerless without a means to help make a positive, viable, and sustainable impact regardless of our age or status within society. The Nobelity Project, a certified education and action non-profit, illustrates our need to ask questions about the world around us, and to seek greater understanding of possibilities and participation in creating our own futures.

Understanding the importance of this period in human history, one realizes that this is an exciting time for EFL teachers in Japan to grasp this opportunity to enrich the lives of our students through stimulating discussions and debates over global issues that concern all of us. As policies for world governance are shaped, we are in need of unbiased information and deductive reasoning to judge which appropriate action would be best for our communities. With this in mind, the School of Global Studies began designing in-house materials to meet this challenge.

A number of criteria were considered when determining what materials to adopt or develop for the classroom to meet our unique program goals to prepare our students for their global responsibilities. Thus, the decision to use Nobelity, a documentary film featuring interviews with Nobel laureates, was based on teacher enthusiasm, content, authenticity, length of video segment per unit, and the ability to sequence a scaffolded framework of language learning tasks suitable for our students. The exercises were designed to enhance students’ opinions through writing summaries and longer compositions leading to in-depth discussions, debates, and presentations.

After one year of developing suitable materials for our students, the Nobelity for the EFL Classroom textbook was completed. It is divided into eleven units: the Introduction and Consolidation units, and nine units focusing on the Nobel Laureates’ concern for issues including environmental conservatism, sustainable energy, health, protection of civilians during conflicts, access to knowledge, economic development, peace, freedom, and justice and reconciliation. The Consolidation unit explores the contributions of Japanese Nobel laureates, and inspires students to learn more about their own local issues.

The success of Nobelity for the EFL Classroom is based on a systematic lesson framework that encourages students to participate in the creation of knowledge, after providing the necessary paralinguistic competence. This is achieved through a combination of previewing, vocabulary building, and guided listening tasks. Students are then required to conduct Internet research for the purpose of sharing summaries of articles and websites in order to enrich their knowledge about the thematic content. The next stage of the lesson is to select writing topics for further discussion, debate, presentations, and closure. Utilization of resources available on the Nobelity Project website also aids students’ language development and motivation to connect with others around the world.

Developing Nobelity materials for our students’ specific language learning needs, as well as the necessity for them to learn more about the world from a grassroots level, has led to an empowering experience both on a personal and professional level. Through their classroom experience, my students have enhanced their connection with important local and global issues and will continue to explore their role and participation in making the world a better place for future generations.

Turk Pipkin’s newest work One Peace at a Time,a film documentary focusing on specific solutions to global problems, is now available. Contact the Nobelity Project if you wish to share your insights, lesson plans, and grassroots support in unraveling the BIG picture.

The Nobelity Project is a non-profit organization, so there are no fees involved in obtaining or using the materials. Note, however, that donations are welcome.

References

Pipkin, T. (Director). (2006). Nobelity [Motion picture]. United States of America: The Nobelity Project.

Resources

  • A copy of the Nobelity DVD can be obtained at: <nobelityinschools.org>
  • The Nobelity Project Film Library is available at: <nobelity.org/video.html>
  • To watch the Introduction to Nobelity go to: <linktv.org/programs/nobelity>

Nobelity in schools

  • Lessons with Nobelity: <nobelityinschools.org/lessons.html>
  • Comprehensive Exercises: <nobelityinschools.org/nobelity-objective.html> <nobelityinschools.org/nobelityComp.html>
  • Glossary of terms: <nobelityinschools.org/nobelityexcel%20definitions(1).htm>
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