Last Wednesday was the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Not only did this attack result in America’s involvement in WWII, but it also resulted in a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. This lead to thousands of Japanese around the United States being put in internment camps, and with the current anti-Muslim feelings around the country, as well as the idea of a national registry for Muslims, I thought it would be worthwhile for ESL students to analyze how this historical event relates to the current political climate.
If you teach an intermediate class, you could just stick to looking at Pearl Harbor from a purely historical standpoint – what happened, who was involved, what were the results? However, if you teach an advanced or academic class, I suggest having students compare and contrast the political climate post-Pearl Harbor with the current political climate.
Here are some different news articles around the web relating to the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. These links range in skill level from low-intermediate (who can usually read the NPR articles) to advanced or academic.
- How Pearl Harbor Shaped the Modern World
- Remember Pearl Harbor? Maybe…
- Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers
- Powerful Stories of Japanese-American Children Who Witnessed Pearl Harbor
- Nation Marks 75th Anniversary of Japan’s Attack
- How DC Changed After Pearl Harbor
- What Happened in Seattle After the Pearl Harbor Attack 75 Years Ago
- Lessons From a Japanese Internment Camp
- Pearl Harbor at 75
For teachers that want to compare and contrast anti-Japanese sentiment with current anti-Muslim sentiment:
- Trump’s Call to Bar Muslims Echoes Crises from Past (this is actually a year old, but still useful)
- Japanese Americans Offer Us Words of Warning
The lesson plan is based on an NPR article that details the life of a woman who had lived in a Japanese internment camp. The article, however, does not actually address the reasons for Japanese internment camps, so you might want to start with one of the articles above, or a video about Japanese internment camps (there are a few short ones on Youtube). This lesson plan contains pre-reading discussion questions, and active reading activity on annotating, a vocabulary section, and post-reading short answer questions. There’s also an extension activity which might be more appropriate for advanced classes.
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