Questions about Homelessness for ESL Students

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn about facilitating discussions about homelessness with English as a Second Language (ESL) students. A list of sample discussion questions that are suitable for a range of age and grade levels will be included.

Discussing Homelessness

Homelessness is a social issue that affects millions of people worldwide. By discussing homelessness, students can take part in observing the world around them, hearing other students' perspectives, and considering ways to make a difference in their community.

Many ESL students come to the United States from different parts of the world where homelessness may be more or less of a problem. This topic gives students a chance to learn from one another. Here are some sample discussion questions you can provide to students for discussions about homelessness.

Questions About Students' Background Knowledge

  • What does it mean to be homeless?
  • Was homelessness a big problem in your native country? How did it compare to homelessness in the United States?
  • Are there any resources in your community for people who are homeless? If so, what are they?
  • What is a panhandler?
  • Why do big cities have more of a problem with homelessness than small or rural towns?
  • How do people who are homeless eat?
  • Where do people who are homeless sleep?
  • How did the government in your native country address the issue of homelessness?
  • What are some stereotypes that people have about homeless people?

Questions About Students' Experiences

  • Have you ever known anyone who was homeless? What was his or her situation like?
  • Have you ever volunteered at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen?
  • Have you ever talked to a person who was homeless? Explain.
  • Has a panhandler ever asked you for money? How did you respond?
  • Have you ever known someone who got evicted from their home because they couldn't pay rent? Where did they go?
  • Have you ever had to worry about becoming homeless?
  • Have you ever been temporarily displaced from your home due to an emergency or natural disaster, such as a fire or flooding? What happened? Where did you go?

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