Category Archives: Political Issues

Biden The 2020 Candidate for President? There’s Still Hope!

“If the election were held today, Joe Biden would crush [Trump]. Almost any other Democrat — including one named Generic Democrat — would also beat the man who runs an administration of kooks, quacks, criminals, drunks, wife-beaters and grifters.” T. Egan, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Joe Biden-youtube

Excerpt: To Beat Trump, Build A Better Biden By Timothy Egan, The New York Times

“Sadly, there remains a sizable constituency for incompetency on this scale — the look-the-other-way evangelicals, the get-yours-while-you-can corporate class, the-ditch-your-principles Republican office holders. They’re with Stupid, no matter how much Trump debases the office. But you can’t beat nothing with better-than-nothing.

Quick: What are Democrats for? Continuity With Change? Stronger Together? A Better Deal? Two of those are actual slogans of the national party, and one is from the feckless politician on ‘Veep.’

Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once. The ideas being tossed around are risky enough to be called bold: a guaranteed-jobs program, universal health care, a public option for banking, free community college.

But the best-known carriers of that message have problems. Nancy Pelosi is toxic in many a targeted red-to-blue district. Chuck Schumer sounds too much like a party hack. The presidential contenders all have weaknesses… People were sick of it in 2006 — when Democrats won the House in part on campaigning against the ‘culture of corruption.’

Joe Biden- I’m leaving the door open | Boston Herald

They were sick of it in 2016, when Hillary Clinton could not shake the stink of big finance-connected profiteering. And they are sick of it today, when more than half of Trump’s cabinet has engaged in questionable behavior…Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook showed some promise until we all realized that social media had been weaponized to destroy democracy.

The entrepreneur Mark Cuban? Haven’t we had enough of a reality show star playing at being president? This gets you to the bench of elected officials. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, is a whirlwind of Big Ideas of late… She is coldbloodedly #MeToo, having shoved her former colleague Al Franken and the Clintons under the bus. And she has gotten ahead of the one-note socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on the idea of a job guarantee for everyone who wants to work. Sanders himself will be 79 on Election Day 2020 and is not getting any less cranky.

But don’t overlook the enthusiasm generated by the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke or Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana. They’ve stood up for the basic right of health care, and against the wrong of more tax cuts for the rich — foundational positions favored by a majority of the country.

Former Vice President Joe Biden talks about his family and his life, Monday night at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Photo-detroitnews

Another prospect is the Senate’s resident vegan, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. He’s got some Wall Street problems and is less populist than the mood of the country… That’s where Biden comes in, and why he cleans up against Trump in early matchups. The problem is that he will be 77 on Election Day…But maybe the current Biden is built to last, with just enough septuagenarian strut to end the dark age of Trump.”

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 Joe Biden.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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. There’s a sizable constituency for Joe Biden.
  2. The look-the-other-way evangelicals are still present.
  3. Nancy Pelosi is toxic in many voting districts.
  4. We need a guarantee that jobs will be available for everyone.
  5. Another prospect is  Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
  6. But don’t overlook the enthusiasm generated by the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.
  7. Some candidates wouldn’t need a slogan.
  8. Many rookie politians will attempt to run for the presidency in 2020.
  9. There are a vast number of voters that suffer from economic anxiety.    
  10. Biden has just enough septuagenarian strut to win.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  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.

Another ___is  Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey…In the same ___is the rookie ___Kamala Harris of California. She’s sharp,___, with the right balance of ___and intellect. But how would a California liberal play in Scranton, Pa.? A new study suggests that ___of cultural ___was a greater driver for Trump voters than economic anxiety — identity politics for aging___males.

WORD LIST: ego, displacement, prospect, white, Senator, class, dynamic, fear,

 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. That’s where Biden come into the race.
  2. The problem is that he will be 77 on Election Day.
  3. There is that fear of cultural displacement.

II

  1. Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once.
  2. The ideas being tossed around is risky.
  3. The presidential contenders all have weaknesses.

III

  1. All candidates would need to be ethically clean.
  2. It might help if candidates was not from the political class.
  3. Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once.

 

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?

Discussion 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 topics mentioned.

  1. The article states: “If you were to go into a lab and create a perfect candidate for 2020, along with a popular policy prescription for this anxious decade, what would that look like?”
  2. In your opinion is Joe Biden the right candidate to run in 2020? Provide reasons for your answer.
  3. In your opinion what are the qualities that make a good  presidential candidate?

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: Political Issues | Tags:

“Justice Ginsburg Urges New Citizens to Make America Better”

“Bedecked in a multicolored collar that reflected the diversity of the 201 new citizens before her, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over a naturalization ceremony on Tuesday at the New-York Historical Society, treating her rapt audience to a history lesson, one crackling with life and liberty.” L. Robbins, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the Supreme Court, center. Credit Chang W. Lee:The New York Times

Excerpt: “Justice Ginsburg Urges New Citizens to Make America Better”  By Liz Robbins, The New York Times

“Justice Ginsburg told them that her own father arrived in this country at 13 with no fortune and no ability to speak English, and yet, she would soon be administering the oath of citizenship to them as a member of the highest court in the land.

Across the packed rows of seats at the historical society’s Upper West Side theater sat people from 59 countries, with first names like Islam, Hussein, Kazi, Angie and Sunday, and with professions as diverse as pastors and pediatric cancer doctors. Two men from Guinea sat in the third row and learned they were both named Mamadou Alpha Diallo, both taxi drivers.  ‘We are a nation made strong by people like you,’ Justice Ginsburg said.

Justice Ginsburg and new citizens. NYT

It seemed only appropriate that the Brooklyn-born jurist known by her fans as the Notorious R.B.G. (a play on the rapper Notorious B.I.G.) delivered her remarks at the oldest museum in the city. Justice Ginsburg, 85, is believed to be the first Supreme Court justice to take part in a naturalization ceremony in New York in recent years, even though the court does not keep detailed records of officiating appearances.

President Barack Obama embraces Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the President’s State Of The Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015

‘Because I’ve seen her on the news and the wonderful things she has done for people and now getting to see her live, I had tears coming down my eyes,’ said Sunday Aito, 50, originally from Nigeria.

Despite the contentious climate surrounding immigration — and who gets admission to the country — Justice Ginsburg made no mention of the Trump administration in her remarks. The Supreme Court will hear arguments this year about the legality of [Trump’s] travel ban; in a December Supreme Court decision that allowed the third version to continue during the legal challenges, both Justices Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented…Justice Ginsburg acknowledged that the United States was at its outset an imperfect union, and is still beset by poverty, low voting numbers and by the ‘struggle to achieve greater understanding of each other across racial, religious and socio-economic lines.’

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She urged its newest citizens to vote and to foster unity. ‘We have made huge progress, but the work of perfection is scarcely done,’ she said.”

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

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a

topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading

 

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. She would soon be administering the oath of citizenship.
  2. It seemed only appropriate that the Brooklyn-born jurist presided over the ceremony.
  3. Despite the contentious climate surrounding immigration the president was not mentioned.
  4. After officiating at the ceremony, she spoke with participants.
  5. To preside over a naturalization ceremony at the historical society was Justice Ginsburg’s idea.
  6. Many green card holders are studying for the naturalization test.
  7. Justice Ginsburg proved inspirational to men and women.
  8. She is a champion of women’s rights and equality.
  9. Ambati is a pediatric cancer specialist at a Cancer Center.
  10. Yusif Abubakari, 42, born in Ghana, was struck by Justice Ginsburg’s humbleness.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  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.

As a ___of women’s rights and___, Justice Ginsburg proved ___to men and women in the audience. Pranitha Mantrala, 35, a ___originally from___, said the message was clear: “I think we can achieve anything.” She became a ___along with her___, Srikanth Ambati, 38, who is a___cancer specialist at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “It meant a lot for me, especially her ___coming from such a___, and her going into such a high profession,” Dr. Mantrala said. “It’s adorable.”

WORD LIST:  citizen,  pediatric, husband,  equality, India, inspirational, background, champion, physician,  parents,

 

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. Justice Ginsburg will mark her 25th year  in the bench in August.
  2. To preside over a naturalization ceremony at the historical society was Justice Ginsburg’s idea.
  3. She said that she had read a New York Times article about the program.

II

  1. The Citizenship Project offers free classes to green card holders.
  2. Justice Ginsburg was careful to present this nation as one that are heavily into self-improvement.
  3. Justice Ginsburg acknowledged that the United States was at its outset an imperfect union.

III

  1. She urged it’s newest citizens to vote and to foster unity.
  2. As a champion of women’s rights and equality, Justice Ginsburg proved inspirational to men and women in the audience.
  3. “May God bless her and give her more life and prosperity.”

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?

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following questions about the United States government. Students may explore information on the web.  Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

The U.S. government has three branches—the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. The government was set up this way so no one person would have too much power. With three branches, each branch balances out the others.

  1. Name and describe the powers for each branch of government.
  2. Under which branch of government does Justice Ruth Ginsburg preside?
  3. How many supreme court justices are there?
  4. The article states, Despite the contentious climate surrounding immigration — and who gets admission to the country — Justice Ginsburg made no mention of the Trump administration in her remarks. The Supreme Court will hear arguments this year about the legality of President Trump’s travel ban.” From this comment who has the authority to admit (or deny) immigrants into the U.S.?

 

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

Oprah: Role Model, Power Player, Avatar of Optimism…2020 President?

“With a booming speech at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey, the billionaire media entrepreneur and former television talk-show host, launched a thousand fantasies for Democrats: Of a historic campaign to put a black woman in the White House. Of a celebrity candidate, known for her big-hearted optimism, taking on a reality-show president defined by his thirst for combat. Of a presidency, some joked, where everybody would get a car.”    A. Burns and A. Chozick

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Oprah at 2018 Globes Awards. Photo- NY Daily News

Excerpt: Oprah 2020? Democrats Swing From Giddy to Skeptical at the Prospect -By A. Burns and A. Chozick, The New York Times

“Ms. Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, stoked the mood in a newspaper interview, suggesting to The Los Angeles Times that she would ‘absolutely do it’ — with the caveat that such matters are ‘up to the people.’  There was no more official signal on Monday from Ms. Winfrey, 63, as to her interest in the presidency. She has disavowed any ambition to be a candidate in the past, though she has told associates in recent months that she wants to play a part in bringing the country together, two people briefed on her thinking said.

Oprah to Colbert- I am never running for political office (2017).Photo- The Daily Beast

If Ms. Winfrey’s ambitions are unclear, the sometimes giddy reaction to her speech at a Hollywood awards dinner underscored the unfulfilled hunger among Democrats for a larger-than-life leader to challenge President Trump.

With no obvious front-runner for the 2020 campaign, Democrats appear likely to spend the next few years grinding through internal disagreements over policy and identity in a long contest for the nomination…In the imagination of some Democrats, Ms. Winfrey might offer an easy way out of those problems… She has cast herself in American culture as an avatar of optimism, not defined in ideological terms.

Oprah greets her fans at her home base in Chicago. Photo: Chicago Tribune

David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for Barack Obama, said Ms. Winfrey was a figure of unique political potential, with ‘a boundless capacity for empathy and a preternatural ability to communicate powerfully and authentically — as we saw at the Golden Globes.’ Mr. Axelrod questioned, however, whether Ms. Winfrey would be the right fit for 2020: ‘Would she want to submit herself to the unforgiving, relentless and sometimes absurd process of running for president?’ he wondered, adding: ‘Will there be hunger in 2020 for someone with some experience in government, after Trump?’

Ms. Winfrey has been named a ‘special contributor’ to CBS News program ’60 Minutes,’ CBS announced. The program begins on Jan. 31, 2018.

Some Democrats expressed skepticism and even frustration about the swirl of fascination with Ms. Winfrey, arguing that the party was jumping the gun with fevered speculation about 2020.

Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a young liberal in the chamber, wrote tersely on Twitter: ‘Hey. Let’s focus on winning in 2018. Thanks.’

Rebecca Katz, a Democratic strategist from the party’s progressive wing, said it would be a mistake for Democrats to rush toward a magnetic personality rather than hashing out a compelling agenda for the midterm elections and beyond.  ‘Beating Trump isn’t just about finding the right candidate — we have to show what we stand for,’ Ms. Katz said. ‘Other than ‘we all get a car,’ what will an Oprah presidency look like?’ 

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, suggested — with a dose of skepticism — that Ms. Winfrey was the kind of political outsider Democrats might embrace.  Alluding to Mr. Trump’s lack of experience, Ms. Pelosi tartly told a small group of reporters that Ms. Winfrey had other qualities going for her: ‘Oprah has read books. She knows how to identify talent.’

Oprah greets her many fans at the Sydney Opera House December 2010. Photo-abc.net

Ms. Winfrey’s commercial reach transcends race and income level, analysts say, propelling so many books and products to overnight success that it has earned its own sobriquet: ‘The Oprah Effect.’

Ms. Winfrey has recently taken on political topics as a special correspondent for CBS News’s ’60 Minutes,’ including a segment on the country’s political divisions and another on the use of solitary confinement in prisons.

But even to close friends and admirers, the prospect of an Oprah 2020 race appeared far-fetched or impossible as recently as last year. After Mr. Trump’s inauguration, when the traditional barriers to entry into presidential politics appeared to melt away, Ms. Winfrey’s associates dismissed the idea.”

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  Oprah Winfrey.  Next, have students look at the photos in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Review as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

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. Ms. Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, stoked the mood in a newspaper interview.
  2. She has disavowed any ambition to be a candidate in the past.
  3. Ms. Winfrey’s ambitions are unclear.
  4. There is no obvious front-runner for the 2020 campaign.
  5. There are thorny disagreements  within the party.
  6. She inspires crucial groups for the party.
  7. Ms. Winfrey has cast herself in American culture as an avatar of optimism.
  8. She represents in some ways a natural counterpoint to Trump’s proud pugilism.
  9. Ms. Winfrey is a figure of unique political potential, with a boundless capacity for empathy.
  10. Some Democrats expressed skepticism.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

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,

There was no official signal___ Monday from Ms. Winfrey.

___the imagination___ some Democrats, Ms. Winfrey might offer solutions.

Senior Democrats___ Washington said___ Monday they had received no signal ___Ms. Winfrey that she hoped___ seek the White House.

Ms. Winfrey’s sudden prominence___ the nation’s political imagination speaks,___ some respects,___ the merging___politics and entertainment___ the American mind.

Reading Comprehension

Sentence Match

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

SENTENCES:

  1. Ms. Winfrey’s commercial reach transcends ___
  2. Oprah has read ___
  3. Ms. Winfrey’s most potent appeal, industry analysts say, is among somewhat ___
  4. By Monday afternoon, the White House had responded to ___
  5. In 2007, she intervened for Mr. Obama, holding rallies for him and___.
  6. In 2013, she hosted a fund-raising event for Cory Booker, in his first bid for ___
  7. Less certain is whether Ms. Winfrey could navigate the ideological pitfalls of ___.
  8. But even to close friends and admirers, the prospect of an Oprah 2020 race___.

CHOICES:

a- appeared far-fetched.

b- Senate in New Jersey.

c-a presidential campaign.

d-race and income level.

e-hailing him as “the one”.

f-books.

g-the threat of Oprah in 2020.

h-older consumers.

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?

Group Debates

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.

Team A will list five reasons for choosing Oprah Winfrey as a presidential candidate in 2020.

Team B will list  five reasons against choosing Oprah Winfrey as a presidential candidate in 2020.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

ANSWER KEY

Additional:

Have students read and listen to Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Speech JAN. 7, 2018, 

“Oprah Winfrey accepted the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement with a rousing acceptance speech that began as a personal reflection and ended as a call to arms. Here is a full transcript of Ms. Winfrey’s speech.”  Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times

 

Category: Political Issues

“There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader”

“What happens when the people of a great nation gradually realize that their leader may not be, er, quite right in the head? When Caligula became Roman emperor in A.D. 37, the people rejoiced… Caligula was colorful and flamboyant, offering plenty of opportunities for ribald gossip… He was charming, impetuous and energetic, sleeping only three hours a night, and he displayed a common touch as he constantly engaged with the public. Initially, Caligula focused on denouncing his predecessor and reversing everything that he had done… But, alas, Caligula had no significant government experience, and he proved utterly incompetent at actually getting things done.” N. Kristof, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader, By Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“On all sides, you could see nothing but altars and sacrifices, men and women decked in their holiday best and smiling,’ according to the first-century writer Philo.

The Circus of Caligula, 1901, from the magazine La Vie au Grand Air. Credit Art Media:Print Collector, via Getty Images

The Senate embraced him, and he was hailed as a breath of fresh air after the dourness, absenteeism and miserliness of his great-uncle, Emperor Tiberius. His early months as emperor brimmed with hope. Caligula also made popular promises of tax reform so as to reduce the burden on the public. He was full of grandiose pledges of infrastructure projects, such as a scheme to cut through the Isthmus of Corinth. Meanwhile, his personal extravagance actually increased the need for tax revenue. Suetonius, the Roman historian, recounted how Caligula’s boats had ‘sterns set with gems, parti-colored sails, huge spacious baths, colonnades and banquet halls, and even a great variety of vines and fruit trees.’

Romans initially accepted Caligula’s luxurious tastes, perhaps intrigued by them. But Caligula’s lavish spending soon exhausted the surplus he had inherited, and Rome ran out of money.

This led to increasingly desperate, cruel and tyrannical behavior. Caligula reportedly opened a brothel in the imperial palace to make money, and he introduced new taxes. When this wasn’t enough, he began to confiscate estates, antagonizing Roman elites and sometimes killing them.

A coward himself, Caligula was said to delight in the torture of others; rumor had it that he would tell his executioners: ‘Kill him so that he can feel he is dying.’

donald trump (aka Modern Caligula) stevemacqwark – DeviantArt

Caligula had a thing for generals, and he periodically wore the garb of a triumphant military commander…He offended practically everyone, he couldn’t deliver on his promises, his mental stability was increasingly doubted and he showed he simply had no idea how to govern.

‘If there’s a hero in the story of first-century Rome, it’s Roman institutions and traditional expectations,’ reflects Emma Dench, a Harvard scholar of the period. ‘However battered or modified, they kept the empire alive for future greatness.”

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. Emperor Tiberius was described as dour.
  2. He was full of grandiose  ideas.
  3. The man was incompetent as a leader.
  4. His personal extravagance increased with time
  5. Caligula had luxurious tastes.
  6. He demonstrated tyrannical behavior.
  7. He was a narcissist.
  8. Caligula became increasingly unhinged.
  9. He removed the breastplate of Alexander the Great from his sarcophagus.
  10. He offended practically everyone.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  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.

Edward Champlin, a___ of Rome at ___University, says that Caligula pursued a love of ___that a 4-year-old might___and had a___ for___out whatever is on his mind.

WORD LIST:  blurting,disdain,pranks, penchant, historian, Princeton,

 

 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. These rash statement rippled through Rome.
  2. Caligula wreaked havoc.
  3. He offended everyone.

 

II

  1. Rome survived Emperor Nero.
  2. Caligula  be a coward.
  3. Caligula was also a megalomaniac.

III

  1. He supposedly rolled around at a huge pile of gold coins.
  2. He engaged in conversations with the moon.
  3. He set up a temple where he could be worshiped.

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?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions 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: Political Issues

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.’

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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