Politics

"When politics is no longer a mission but a profession, politicians become more self-serving than public servants."

Emmanuel Macron, president of France
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This free ESL lesson plan on politics and politicians 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.

Politics can mean the activities of governments and politicians, or it can mean the actions taken to gain and hold on to power. It is little wonder, therefore, that the word has developed negative connotations. We live in world that is suffering from a crisis of trust in our politicians and institutions, not that this hasn’t always been the case, but these days, with social media and instant information, we are much more aware of the problem. It’s not just that politicians lie to us; it’s the fact they know they can get away with it because in this post-truth world, it is more advantageous to appeal to people’s emotions than it is to appeal to their sense of reason. So, who is to blame? The politicians who lie to us, or we the people who willingly lap up their lies to confirm our pre-existing beliefs? In this ESL lesson plan on politics, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what politics involves and their opinion of politicians.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Global Elections Day, which takes place in February, or the International Day of Democracy, which takes place in September. 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):

KSHB | Here are 4 ways to mend broken relationships over political differences

The article, written after the divisive and polarising US election of 2020, looks at a number of ways friends and families can repair relationships damaged by political disagreements. 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 “How to restore trust in politics” by The Economist which looks at experiments with citizen assemblies around the world as a possible solution to restore trust in politics and increase democratic participation.

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 important political issues in the students’ countries, why people become involved in politics, and major political parties.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with politics such as office politics, play politics and political suicide. 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 politicians. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether politicians are trusted, why politicians don’t keep their promises, and how to restore trust in politics.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of politics and politicians. 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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