Migrants should change their way of life if they want to fully integrate

⌚︎ 4 min.

Learning resource

Migrants should change their way of life if they want to fully integrate

Debate on whether migrants should change their way of life if they want to fully integrate in society. The students will exchange their sides in order to have a complete simulation of the migration experience.
Proposal for use
Prevention of radicalisation
Target group
Age 15-25
Pedagogical method
Moderated discussion
  • Confronting participants with the realities of discrimination in life.
  • Developing skills to respond to injustice and defend rights.
  • Developing skills to review information critically and relate it to everyday experience.
  • Stimulating feelings of responsibility, solidarity, justice and equality.  
  • Developing critical thinking and skills to analyse complex problems.      
  • Developing communication and active listening skills.                    
  • Developing empathy skills.

a. Migration: open discussion on why people migrate.

b. Develop a list of ground rules to guide the discussion process and adopt only those which have been commonly agreed upon by the majority (teacher and students). Review and post the ground rules before the debate and discussion.

Agree on discussion conventions (ask students to use ‘I agree or I disagree with‘ to start contributions. This will make them pick on what the previous speaker said.                                                             

Ask students to listen to others and allow everybody to get involved.                                       

Encourage students to talk with each other and maintain eye contact with their interlocutors. Encourage and teach the use of reasoning and supporting arguments: Why do you say that? Can you give me a reason?

Clarifying concepts: What do you mean by that?

Being sensitive, showing empathy: Is it always the case? / Would you argue the same if….?)

c. Organise the debate: give students the instructions on how to organize a debate.

Get students in two groups; assign the Affirmative (for) and the Negative Groups (against)

Set the rules for the debate.

Ask each group to decide on two arguments. Then divide each group into two subgroups (each subgroup having to prepare one argument). Preparation of one argument to support the case consists of one argument + reason: an example, explanation or description. Students prepare their arguments and then they present them. Ask students to consider the consequences of their statements if applied to a real social context. (Invite each group to take notes on their opponent group and spot weak points.)

Students prepare their refutation and present it. Preparation of rebuttal and summary: discuss within their teams the points the opposition made and decide how to refute them and argue against what the opponent has argued for.

Students exchange their roles (the group who was against is now for and the other way round). Monitor the debate with the new structure: preparation of arguments, presentation and refutation.

d. Debriefing and following up

Review what was understood and learned from the debate; identify and work on sensitive issues raised by the debate.

What did you learn? Do you still have questions about? What was the most interesting thing you learnt from this activity?     

Are we any closer to understanding processes of integration? What else do we need to know to better understand migrants?

Ask students to reflect upon their debate experience:

How did you feel in both situations? Why?

Were the situations difficult to deal with? Why? Which was more difficult to handle? Why?

How do people show respect for others’ ideas, even if they disagree?    

Conclusions: Reinforce positive messages by having a talk on the common set of values the debate has focused on. Encourage students to think critically about current situations and look for constructive approaches to global problems by taking non-violent action to demonstrate their solidarity with others (examples of non-violent actions).

Further remarks/recommendations:

Set the ground rules to guide the discussion and debate process with all students‘ contribution and adopt only those which have been commonly agreed upon by the majority.

Identify and work on all sensitive issues.

Make sure everybody is given an opportunity to speak.

Be a facilitator of the discussion and focus on its topic and objectives.

Encourage and positively reinforce constructive engagement in the discussion. Respond to aggressive verbal and non-verbal behaviour promptly according to the established rules.

Don’t accept statements and opinions without supportive arguments.

Reinforce positive messages.

Human and material resources

Hand-out: the poem First They Came For... (Martin Niemöller)

Evaluation of the learning process

See: Debriefing and following up or feedback from students

Suggestions for follow-up

a. It may be advisable to talk individually with the participants and thank them for their contribution to the debate. Tell they are entitled to have their own opinions on condition they show respect to others. (this means that they are not entitled to have all sorts of opinions.)

b. Sensitise students to the position of bystanders. Give them the adaptation of Martin Niemöller’s poem to reflect (see handout Debate).

c. Watch the video clip The lunch date and have a talk with students about its message. It presents a complex story about stereotypes. (What is the message of the film? Why did the lady react that way? How would you have acted under the given circumstances? Why?).

d. Questionnaires to evaluate empathy (Toronto empathy questionnaire, Empathy quotient)

e. Talk on emotions. Think about a past situation that was related to strong emotions. How did you feel? What did you think? What did you do? If you could go back in time, what would you do? Focus on negative emotions (how we can manage them).

Pedagogical modalities
Number of participants
Fundatia EuroEd
Date of creation
Language(s) available




Portuguese, Portugal






Human rights