One of my favourite Instagram accounts is @mumbaipaused. He normally posts pictures of street life in the city of which he has a unique perspective, but at times he also collaborates with artists on thought provoking illustrations. This activity is designed around one of these illustrations that @mumbaipaused posted late last year and is an attempt to fulfill my recent commitment to integrate more multilingual practices into my classroom.
- Explore different future forms in the interrogative (as well as the rhetorical function for more advanced learners)
- Introduce the expression ‘land shark’
- Develop oral fluency in the context of land grabs/over-development/environment/social media advocacy and encourage learners to share their own experiences with these issues.
- Depending on resource constraints in your teaching context, you could use the ‘save to collection’ feature to bookmark the image in Instagram and display it to students using your phone/tablet. You could also show them the image by accessing the URL and displaying the image on a computer or a projector. If you teach older students who have their own devices, you could give them a QR code or a shortened URL so they can access the image through their own Instagram accounts.
- Display the picture and ask the learners to think about how they would say this Hindi question “Aur kitna kayega Mumbai?” in English. Ask them to write their translations down and compare it with a partner.
- Get them to then compare their translations to these – which one is theirs closest to?
How much more will you eat, Mumbai?
How much more are you going to eat, Mumbai?
How much more are you eating, Mumbai?
How much more would you eat, Mumbai?
- For more advanced learners, you could explore the rhetorical function by asking if @mumbaipaused was looking for an answer to this question and getting them to think about why he posed it as a question. There’s also an allusion to a Bollywood movie which learners may recognise.
- Encourage students to work in small groups to explore the differences in meaning and form. Get them to think about what @mumbaipaused was trying to convey in Hindi. You may need to do a whole class focus on meaning/form for the target forms based on responses at this stage.
- Ask students to now focus on the actual illustration and guess the idiomatic expression it represents. Elicit land shark and ask students if they can think of a parallel phrase for it in Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani, Tulu (or any other home language). In the North of India, there’s an interesting expression: भू माफिया (/bhu mɑːfjɑ:/) which combines the Hindi word for earth and mafia.
- Students now work in small groups to discuss what they know about land sharks – have their families or friends been affected by land sharks? (This might strike you as an odd question but it’s sadly all too common an occurrence).
- Ask students to think about what @mumbaipaused was trying to draw attention to in his Instagram post – point out the geo-location – ‘Aarey Forest’. If they’re from around Bombay, they might know the controversy over the felling of a part of the forest for metro construction. If they don’t know about it, tell them about it and ask them if something similar has happened in their city or town. This can segue into a discussion on any topic that interests the learners: the cost of development, political cartoons, using social media for advocacy, disappearing urban birds/trees etc.
- If students have their own devices, ask them to create Instagram accounts if they’re not already on the app and post a picture connected to the discussion that shows how the environment or people are being affected by indiscriminate development (or whatever they ended up talking about). Get them to use two rhetorical questions in the caption that use one of the forms explored in the lesson: one in English and the other in their home language (in the Roman script or in their own script – whatever works). This can become a nice show and tell activity for a subsequent lesson.
Now I know this activity is perhaps targeted at an Indian audience (or more specifically one’s that familiar with Hindi). Nonetheless, I think you could use it as a frame to develop activities using languages spoken in your own classroom – particularly if you can find Instagrammers in your city who use the platform to make a social comment about current events in local languages. Let me know how it goes!