Opening Our Hearts…To Animals

“The quiet young man had come to me looking for love, ideally at first sight. I asked my usual questions about his work, where he lived, how he spent his free time. I asked about his great loves of the past… Then I asked how he felt about being jumped on, slobbered on or getting mud all over his couch. ‘I’m O.K. with that,’ he said. ‘Can I meet Chance?’ Ah, Chance. The young lab-mix, with a puppy’s zeal for life, who loved to chew on the shelter volunteers’ hands as we leashed him. ‘Behave yourself for once,’ I urged Chance as I opened the kennel…when we turned to leave he began to buck wildly. My heart sank. Then I saw the face of the young man waiting by the door. He’d gone all moony. He only had eyes for Chance.” A. Sutherland, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Opening the Heart’s Floodgates, With a Paw By Amy Sutherland, The New York Times

“Much to my surprise, I have become a matchmaker. On Saturday afternoons I pull on my gray T-shirt and head to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, where I help people find their canine soul mates amid the barky din. Doing this work, I’ve not only learned how to pair up people and canines, I have received a master class in the expansiveness of the human heart, a lesson that I very much needed. Being a matchmaker was never my plan. I began volunteering at the shelter to help dogs. Just dogs. And the more time I spent with the dogs, the more my love for my fellow man withered.

At the shelter, I walked dogs that had been abandoned for trivial reasons or for no reason at all. I cared for pups that had been tied to utility poles on the street in wintertime, others so thin they had to wear coats in balmy spring weather, lacking the body mass to stay warm at 60 degrees. The more I walked these dogs, the more I became an animal person. To be called an animal person is not necessarily a compliment, not when it implies that you love animals with a passion matched only by how much you loathe your own species.

Best friends

Then one Saturday afternoon I noticed a young, outdoorsy couple walking down the row of kennels, stopping to say hello to each dog. I asked if they wanted to meet one. ‘Can we meet Ciera?’ the man asked. ‘Ciera?’ I squeaked. ‘Really? I mean yes, of course you can.’ No one ever asked to see Ciera, a young mutt with skinny legs... Shiny and black, like a seal, she was cute but regularly pooped right in her kennel, then ran back and forth in it. This was her big chance. I didn’t want to mislead this couple about what a nut she was, but I did want her to find a home…

As I began reading the notes on Ciera out loud, I dropped her leash and hoped for the best. She began ricocheting around the room, bouncing off the couch, the bookcases and the man’s legs…As I muffled a sigh, the couple laughed. Hard. I looked up. Their faces glowed. ‘I love her,’ the man said. ‘Me too,’ said the woman. ‘We want her.’

Many of us have more love inside than we know what to do with, but are too bottled up. Which is where dogs [and cats] can come in. With them, we can let our love flow freely without fear of being judged or rejected. They are like safety valves. With humans, I had bottled myself up. And love doesn’t like to be bottled up. ..I returned to the kennels to help more people toss their hearts away.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. I have become a matchmaker.
  2. At the shelter, many dogs had been abandoned.
  3. To be called an animal person is not necessarily a compliment.
  4. So many people love animals with a passion.
  5. I had a dismal opinion of people.
  6. I didn’t want to mislead this couple.
  7. She was an air-bound blur of black fur.
  8. As I muffled a sigh, the couple laughed.
  9. There were ancient hounds and juveniles who hopped like kangaroos.
  10. We had no miniature dogs that day.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Watching people fall/fell in love/loving so completely with dogs, I begin/began to see how humans/humanly long to give their hearts/heart away.

Of course, there are outliers: cool/cold customers sit/set on French bulldogs of a certain shade, or people who turn up their noises/noses at pit bulls, even the smoosh-mouthed little ‘pittie puppies.’  And the difficulties of human relationships can keep the love from flowing/flying.

Grammar Focus

Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over, through, from, during, up, off,

Animal people can be judgmental, self-righteous and cranky, all ___which I was becoming.___I spent more time ___the shelter, I found that I became less patient ___human beings, even my sweet husband. Walking the dogs would cheer me___, but my mood would darken___ I fixated___the stupidity and carelessness___my fellow Homo sapiens.___ the subway ride home I often caught myself frowning ___strangers___the train.

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: In groups have students answer the following questions. Topics may be used for writing.

  1. With your group list at least 3 good reasons for adopting a pet.
  2. List 3 reasons against adoption.
  3. How many members of your group has ever adopted an animal? Describe the experience.
  4. Have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Animals | Tags:

Robots Are Helping Autistic Children in Ways Humans Can Not

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 American children has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism varies case by case…recent research has found that autistic children are more comfortable interacting with robots than humans, in part because robots are more predictable and can be controlled. Experts also say teaching social skills to children with autism requires frequent repetition. Last time I checked, robots are great at repetition.” S. Crowe, Robotictrends

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Robots4Autism

 

Excerpt: 5 Promising Robots for Kids with Autism, By Steve Crowe, Robotictrends

“Children with autism have trouble understanding and engaging other people’s emotions, and with socially assistive robots, the child may be more readily engaged without being overwhelmed’ said Laurie Dickstein-Fischer, an assistant professor at Massachusetts’ Salem State University’s School of Education. And since toys are often more approachable than people for children with autism, we’re starting to see an influx of social robots that can be great tools to help autism therapy.”

Promising Robots for Kids with Autism:

Nao

Nao, the two-foot-tall humanoid robot from Aldebaran Robotics, can do a lot more than dance and look cute. The French company discovered Nao’s success in the classroom, resulting in the launch of ASK (Autism Solutions for Kids) Nao program.

Milo

Milo, a two-foot-tall humanoid robot, has proven to be very effective at reaching children with autism who have difficulty interacting with humans…Milo speaks 20% slower than an average human and has a limited range of facial expressions and is less likely to express emotions that get in the way of autistic children learning. Milo can repeat lessons over and over again without getting frustrated, saying things exactly the same way each time.

Leka

Leka has been co-developed with parents, therapists and caregivers to make therapy more accessible to children with autism, Down’s syndrome, or multiple disabilities. Leka’s goal is to help these children become more independent and improve their motor and social skills.

Darwin-OP2

The Darwin-OP2 is a humanoid robot created by Chung Hyuk Park, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at George Washington University. Darwin-OP2 can interact with autistic children by playing soccer, dancing, and performing other activities. For example, Darwin-OP2 can say in a monotone voice that he is excited to “be friends and play soccer” with you as he kicks a little red ball.

Buddy

Blue Frog Robotics, creator of Buddy the personal robot, is working with Auticiel to integrate apps that will help children with autism and other special needs learn to communicate, interact with others, and be more autonomous.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  social robots. Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart By Ellteaching 2.0 for assistance.

  1. We’re starting to see an influx of social robots.
  2. Leka the social robot was launched on Indiegogo.
  3. We must make therapy more accessible to children with autism.
  4. Nao’s tasks are semi-autonomous.
  5. Teachers can select and personalize tasks.
  6. Robots  are less intimidating than human playmates.
  7. Children with autism and other special needs learn to interact with others.
  8. Based on a child’s abilities, users can customize the level of difficulty.
  9. Buddy displays a video on his face showing how to wash hands step-by-step.
  10. Buddy dances and congratulates the child.

Reading Comprehension: Sentence Match

Directions: Students  are to complete the sentences from the article by selecting the correct words or phrases.

  1. Children with autism ___
  2. Toys are often more ___
  3. The robot’s goal is to help these children___
  4. We rounded up robots looking to have a___
  5. A French company discovered Nao’s success___
  6. When autistic children are engaged and comfortable,___

PHRASES:

A.  improve their motor skills.   

B. much bigger impact on autism therapy.

C.  in the classroom.   

D. have trouble understanding and engaging. 

E. they’re better able to learn. 

F.  approachable than people.

 Grammar Focus: Word Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

The Darwin-OP2 is in the early/easy stages of development/develop, but Yetta Myrick, the mother of a 12-year-old son diagnosed/ diagnoses  with autism, says the possibilities are interesting/intriguing. She says her son, who hasn’t met Darwin-OP2, would like the robot/robber because he is less confusing/confused and intimidating than human playmates.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following  topics.

  1. The article states, Robots are helping autistic children in ways humans can’t.” With your group create a list of the things robots can do to help these children.
  2. Out of the robots mentioned in this article, which do you think is the most helpful? Why? Which do you think is the least helpful? Why?
  3. With your group create a robot that you think would be helpful to children with special needs. Draw pictures of what your think the robot should look like.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Autism, Technology

Boston Companies: Paying Employees to Learn English

“During most of his work week, Cesar Orantes dons a hair net, rubber gloves, and a white apron flecked with fish scales for his job in quality assurance at Stavis Seafoods, a wholesaler in Boston’s Seaport District. But for four hours each week, the Guatemalan native removes his protective gear, gathers with several of his co-workers in the company’s break room, and turns his attention to something very different: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other fundamentals of English.” S. Pfeiffer, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Blount Team in Fall River, MA

Excerpt: Get paid to learn English? Some companies offer immigrant workers that very perk By Sacha  Pfeiffer Boston Globe

“The classes are free and held during the workday, and Orantes is paid his regular wage while sitting in the makeshift classroom. Stavis even gives him and his colleagues a bonus if they attend a certain number of classes. As Orantes improves his English language skills, he is also boosting his workplace performance, since the better he can communicate with customers and colleagues, the more effectively he can do his job.

Faced with a labor shortage in the robust Massachusetts economy — the state’s unemployment rate of 2.9 percent is the country’s second-lowest, along with North Dakota — employers are increasingly relying on immigrant workers, and a growing number of businesses are devoting resources to on-the-job English language instruction.

image- Cambridge English

At least 35 Massachusetts companies provide free English classes, according to a Globe tally. The training lets them retain promising employees, promote from within, and identify workers whose potential was previously hidden behind a language barrier.

Employers offering this benefit, which is often partially paid for by state grants, range from hospitals to manufacturing firms to food service companies. Some even schedule pre-dawn courses to accommodate overnight workers, who finish their shifts with an English class before clocking out for the day at 7 or 8 a.m.

‘If we hire somebody who doesn’t cut up the right seafood for an order because they can’t read the order form, that’s not good customer service,’  said Stuart Altman, a co-owner of Stavis Seafoods, which says at least 20 percent of its 133-person workforce are immigrants, mostly Latino and Asian. Currently, 18 of them are enrolled in the company’s English class.

By offering English instruction, errors are reduced, Altman said, and ‘this gives us an opportunity to train the next generation of middle managers, and puts them in a position to succeed the best they can.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Many companies offer immigrant workers perks.
  2. Some places have makeshift classrooms.
  3. Workers can communicate with customers and colleagues.
  4. Massachusetts is faced with a labor shortage.
  5. Employers are increasingly relying on immigrant workers.
  6. Potential was previously hidden behind a language barrier.
  7. Many people are enrolled in the company’s English class.
  8. Many nonprofit organizations provide instructors.
  9. Requests for grant funding for English instruction is in demand.
  10. There is an economic benefit for employers.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

The YMCA of ___Boston has ___English___at the Langham Hotel and at ___small businesses in Chelsea. Interest in English training is so ___that JVS has tripled the ___of classes it offers in ___years, from nine in 2009 to 27 this year, according to___development director Mandy Townsend.

WORD LIST: training, number, business, provided, Greater, recent,  robust, numerous,

Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following  topics.

  1. “If employees aren’t comfortable speaking up and can’t make themselves understood, that prevents them from moving up and prevents the company from taking advantage of their expertise.”
  2. “Employees who are competent in English aren’t just better communicators; they also better understand workplace safety rules, and English proficiency makes them more digitally adept, since hospital and hotel workers who clean rooms, for example, must sometimes chart their progress on hand-held devices that require basic English literacy.”
  3. “…the classes [are] a huge investment from the company’s standpoint . . . because while they’re in class that’s a significant loss in productivity, so we end up having to pay overtime for other people to produce the work we need to produce.But offering classes during the workday increases attendance, he said, since some employees have second jobs and family responsibilities that prevent them from taking courses before or after work.”

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Economy, Jobs | Tags:

Is 2017 a Mirror Image of Orwell’s 1984?

“The dystopia [Oceania] described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel 1984 suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes… A world  where fear and hate are drummed up against foreigners…where the government insists on defining its own reality and where propaganda permeates the lives of people too distracted by rubbishy tabloids.” M. Kakutani, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt:  Why ‘1984’ Is a 2017 Must-Read, By Michiko  Kakutani, The New York Times

1984  shot to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list this week, after Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Trump described demonstrable falsehoods told by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer — regarding the size of inaugural crowds — as  ‘alternative facts.’

It was a phrase chillingly reminiscent, for many readers, of the Ministry of Truth’s efforts in 1984 at ‘reality control.’ To Big Brother and the Party, Orwell wrote, ‘the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.’  Regardless of the facts, ‘Big Brother is omnipotent’ and  ‘the Party is infallible.’

Image-news.bitcoin

As the novel’s hero, Winston Smith, sees it, ‘The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.’ (George Orwell 1984 chapter 7-Part One)

Freedom, he [Winston] reminds himself, ‘is the freedom to say that two plus two make four,’ even though the Party will force him to agree that ‘TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE’ — not unlike the way Mr. Spicer tried to insist that Mr. Trump’s inauguration crowd was ‘the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,’ despite data and photographs to the contrary.

Not surprisingly, 1984 has found a nervous readership in today’s post-truth era. It’s an era in which misinformation and fake news have proliferated on the web; Russia is flooding the West with propaganda to affect elections and sow doubts about the democratic process; poisonous tensions among ethnic and religious groups are fanned by right-wing demagogues; and reporters scramble to sort out a cascade of lies and falsehoods told by Trump and his aides — from false accusations that journalists had invented a rift between him and the intelligence community (when he had compared the intelligence agencies to Nazis) to debunked claims that millions of unauthorized immigrants robbed him of a popular-vote majority…In this world, 2 + 2 does = 5, as Orwell noted, and the acceptance of bad arithmetic simply becomes a testament to the power of rulers to define reality and the terms of debate.”

Related Article: Steve Bannon Calls Press the ‘Opposition Party,’ Which Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’– By Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. In the novel 1984 Orwell describes Oceania as a dystopia.
  2. Demonstrable falsehoods were told by the White House.
  3. Propaganda permeates the lives of people.
  4. Religious groups are fanned by right-wing demagogues.
  5. Orwell presciently argued that people needed to be vigilant.
  6. There are several government agencies are involved in environmental issues.
  7. Of course, all of these developments are being constantly updated.
  8. This mixture of gullibility and cynicism are dangerous.
  9. Some people do not particularly object to being deceived.
  10. This aspect of government is a despairing vision.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Orwell had been ___about the___that would become 1984 as early as 1944, when he wrote a letter about ___and Hitler, and the___of emotional ___and a tendency to ___in the existence of objective___ because all the ___have to fit in with the words and___of some infallible führer.”

WORD LIST: horrors, truth,  nationalism, thinking, prophecies,  novel, disbelieve, Stalin, facts,

Grammar: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Of course, all of these developments/developers are beginning/being constantly updated, with regular/regularly flurries/flowers of news and deny/denials and counter-denials — a confusing steak/state of affairs that itself would not have surprised/suppressed Orwell, since he new/knew the value of such confusion to those in powerful/power.

III. Post Reading Activities

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following  topics.

  1. Create a list of freedoms that you currently enjoy in your home,  in your neighbor,  school and in this country (USA).
  2. Is there a  possibility of these freedoms ever being denied? Discuss why or why not.
  3. The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights grant freedoms to all American citizens. Make a list of these rights. In your opinion is the current government upholding these rights? Discuss why or why not.

3-2-1-Writing Activity

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Repealing Obamacare = Millions Without Health Care

“On Friday [January 20, 2017-Inauguration Day] as one of his first official acts, Trump signed an executive order that would allow officials to minimize [Obamacare’s] economic burden...The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the repeal of Obamacare could result in 18 million Americans losing their health insurance in the first year after the law is overturned—and could leave more than 30 million people without coverage in ten years.” B. Coombs, CNBC

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif

Excerpt: Obamacare enrollees worry about what comes next By Bertha Coombs, CNBC

Before Obamacare, Alex Travison went without health insurance for years. After getting laid off from GM more than a decade ago, he couldn’t afford the coverage.‘I didn’t have any major health issues in that time, but I did have to see my doctor every so many months, to get my prescriptions filled for my high blood pressure,’ said Travison, during a recent visit to his doctor’s office at the Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles.

Alex Travison

Now, with government subsidies, he pays about $50 a month for coverage on an exchange plan, an arrangement he said has worked well for him. However, he’s worried he’ll lose his coverage if the Trump administration and Republican Congress make good on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  ‘I’m a 64 year old man and things happen very quickly sometimes with your health, he explained. I believe that to take away these benefits from us at this (time) borders on criminal.’

It’s a concern the staff at the Venice Family Clinic is hearing a lot this month from the low-income patients they see here.‘Our patients are very concerned about… their health insurance in the future,’ said Liz Benson Forer, CEO of the Venice Family Clinic. t’s very important that there be some stability in this system as this discussion goes forward.’

Photo: In These Times

The president and Republicans have promised their replacement plan will be able to provide wide access to coverage and will be cheaper, by offering more options. Republicans want to provide an a la carte menu, with more cheaper, skinnier plans for people who don’t consume a lot of health services, and a standard health insurance tax credit for everyone — regardless of whether they get insurance through their employer or buy it on their own.

Yet for people who require a lot of care and prescriptions, health insurance consultant Carolyn McClanahan says that kind of shift will require careful planning.

‘The big thing they’re going to have to think about if they have a chronic illness, [is] their ongoing expenses are going to be pretty extensive, so they need to have a lot of money set aside,’ said McClanahan.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  Obamacare.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the topic. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Travison went without health insurance for more than a decade.
  2. Now, with government subsidies, he pays about $50 a month for coverage.
  3. It’s very important that there be some stability in this system.
  4. Republicans offered assurances that the current administration was committed to maintaining health care.
  5. It is estimated that 20 million Americans have gained coverage under the ACA.
  6. According to the current administration nobody is interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody.
  7. It’s absolutely imperative that all individuals have health care.
  8. There are no details on how the administration would achieve that objective.
  9. People who have a chronic illness need to have a lot of money set aside.
  10. It says in our Declaration of Independence ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ is for all people.

Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

“The president/precedence and Republicans have promiscuous /promised their replacement plan/plans will be able to provision/provide wide access/success  to coverage and will be cheap/cheaper, by offering more options/opinions. They liken/like Obamacare to a big fixed-price buffet, with its record/required preventive health/help benefits/befits for every plan and tax subsidies for low-income Americans.”

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. People is worried they’ll lose their coverage.
  2. Patients are very concerned about their health insurance.
  3. That is not our goal, nor is it our desire.

II

  1. The administration offered no details for an replacement.
  2. Obamacare helped many people.
  3. Republicans want to provide a different plan.

III

  1. They are also proposing bigger tax deductions.
  2. There are people who require a lot of care and prescriptions.
  3. Many people will need to have a lot of money sit aside.

III Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Health Issues