“Former President Barack Obama issued a scorching critique of his successor Friday, blasting Trump’s pattern of pressuring the Justice Department, his policies and reminding voters that the economic recovery — one of Trump’s favorite talking points — began on his watch.” PBS News Hour
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Obama’s speech at the University of Illinois was delivered less than two months before midterm elections that could determine the course of Trump’s presidency. The remarks amounted to a stinging indictment of political life in the Trump era. ‘It did not start with Trump,’ Obama said. ‘He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.’
Noting the history of former presidents avoiding the rough and tumble of politics, Obama acknowledged his sharp critique of Trump was something of a departure from tradition. But he said the political moment required a pushback and called for better discourse…’appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those who don’t look like us or don’t sound like us or don’t pray like we do — that’s an old playbook,’ he said. ‘It’s as old as time. And in a healthy democracy, it doesn’t work.’But, Obama added, when there is a vacuum in democracy, ‘other voices fill the void. A politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment takes hold.’
Obama called Trump ‘the symptom, not the cause’ of division and polarization in the U.S…Even as he has largely remained out of the spotlight, Obama made clear he’s paid close attention to the steady stream of headlines chronicling the Trump administration and said the news is a reminder of what’s at stake in the November midterm elections. ‘Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you this moment really is different,’ Obama said. “The stakes really are higher…’This is not normal.’Obama, reacting to the op-ed account, said ‘that’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.’
‘The claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren’t following the president’s orders, that is not a check,’Obama said. ‘I’m being serious here. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. These people aren’t elected. They’re not accountable.’
Obama also jabbed Trump on the issue the current president frequently heralds as one of his greatest achievements: The strong economy. Obama reminded the audience that the economic recovery began during his administration and defended his handling of the 2008 economic collapse.
‘When you hear how great the economy’s doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started,’ he said…Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is also stepping up her political involvement ahead of the November midterm election. She will headline voter registration rallies in Las Vegas and Miami later in September as part of a week of action byWhen We All Vote,the new nonpartisan organization that she co-chairs.”
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
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 former U.S. President Barack Obama .Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Activities
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.
- Obama’s speech was delivered less than two months before midterm elections.
- The remarks amounted to a stinging indictment of political life in the current president’s era.
- He is a symptom, not the cause.
- He’s just capitalizing on resentments from some politians.
- Obama acknowledged his sharp critique ofthe current president was something of a departure from tradition.
- Former president Obama said the political moment required a pushback and called for better discourse.
- Mr. Obama was especially stern in his condemnation of Trump’s pattern of pressuring law enforcement officials.
- To call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution is simply wrong.
- That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.
- The speech was a preview of the argument that Obama is likely to make throughout the fall.
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.
Next week, Obama plans/plan to campaign inn/in Ohio for Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for/four governor, and Ohio Democrats. Obama’s campaign active/activity will continue threw/through October and will include fundraising/fundraiser appearances, according to an Obama adviser. The adviser/advisers was not authorized to discuss Obama’s thinking publicly and spoke/speak on condition of anonymity. While the form/former president will be visible/visibly throughout the general election, the adviser said that Obama will not be a daily presence/present on the campaign trail.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammaticalerror. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- The event was streamed under the University.
- Obama acknowledged his sharp critique of the administration.
- The political moment required a pushback.
- There are many people of good will across the political spectrum.
- Obama have largely remained out of the spotlight.
- Take a glance at recent headlines.
- He said the situation was not normal.
- Them people aren’t accountable.
- Obama made the economy great during his time in office.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use theWH-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 Writing/Speaking Activity
Directions:Place students in groups and have each group list 3questions they would like to ask any person in the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared 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.