The Police

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

George Orwell (1903 – 1950), English author, journalist and essayist
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This free ESL lesson plan on the police has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

For whatever the reason, and there are many, we don’t live in a safe world. We see on the news every day that there have been robberies and murders and other crimes that make us feel unsafe. For this reason, people all across the world rely on the police to keep them safe. Yet despite this noble duty to protect and serve, many people criticise the police, either for abuses of power or for not successfully tackling crime. It is absolutely vital that people can call on a reliable and trustworthy police force to help them in their time of need, because one thing is for certain, we all need the police. In this ESL lesson plan on the police, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the role of the police, how they keep people safe, and criticisms that people have of the police.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for the Day of International Criminal Justice, which takes place in July. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

CBS News | What lessons do police in Europe have for American cops?

In the wake of police controversies in the United States, many people have questioned how to fix these problems. Some have looked to Europe to see how things work differently over there. This article looks at some of the differences between American and European policing, including training, regulations and the problem of creating standards across 18,000 different police departments in the US. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is a called “Once-Violent Camden, New Jersey, Now Seen As Model For Community Policing” by Today which looks at efforts made by a New Jersey police department to introduce community policing principles into what was once considered the most dangerous city in the US.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the best cop dramas and movies, what it would be like to be a police officer, and what society would be like with no police.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with the police such as stop and search, undercover and bodycam. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about the police. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the problems people can have with the police, the accountability of the police, and whether the police have a problem with racism.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of the police. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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