“Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify. As the pandemic has spread fear, disease and death, national leaders across the globe have been severely tested. Some have fallen short… but there are also those leaders who have risen to the moment, demonstrating resolve, courage, empathy, respect for science… and thereby dulling the impact of the disease on their people.” The New York Times Editorial Board
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: In a Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out, By The New York Times Editorial Board
“The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.
On March 21, when New Zealand still had only 52 confirmed cases, she told her fellow citizens what guidelines the government would follow in ramping up its response. Her message was clear: ‘These decisions will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history. But it is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives.’ And it was compassionate: ‘Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.’ Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the conservative prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, in shaping a joint effort that has all but eliminated the virus from their island nations.
Other examples of countries where swift and decisive action helped allay the impact of the disease and unite the nation range from South Korea and Taiwan in Asia to Germany and Iceland in Europe. Women, a minority among the national leaders of the world, emerged among the most effective and reassuring of them.
Like Ms. Ardern, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany acted early and calmly, warning Germans that many of them would fall prey to the novel coronavirus, and quickly getting testing underway.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan likewise responded at the first sign of the new danger, keeping the virus under control and enabling her to send millions of face masks to the United States and Europe…and Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, are other women who have earned plaudits at home and abroad for their handling of the crisis…
In Italy, the European country hardest hit by the pandemic, Giuseppe Contehas won respect for ordering stern measures and pledging that the state will take care of people…
All these feats and figures, of course, require caveats. Germany’s relatively low mortality rate, for example, may reflect a far higher rate of testing than other countries, which makes for a greater number of people known to be infected and therefore a smaller percentage of virus-related deaths… A willingness to take quick and bold action, even when it carries political risk, is surely among the most important hallmarks of leadership in a crisis.
[However, several countries such as China and in particular the U.S. have demonstrated extremely poor leadership. It is now obvious that the actions by both governments proved disastrous for the people of those countries].
Other elements of effective leadership include a respect for science, transparent messaging, constant updating of the evidence and prompt assurance of financial support. Beyond politics, economics and science lie qualities of character that can’t be faked.
“When I announced my campaign one year ago today, I said we were in a battle for the soul of the nation. One year later, that is as true as it has ever been. I believe we can and we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, better, and fairer nation. Together, as one America.”
~Democratic Presidential Candidate ‘Leader’ Joe Biden~
U.S. Presidential Election: VOTE NOVEMBER 3, 2020
Related: Joe Biden’s Strengths Match the Nation’s Needs in these Troubled Times
“A return to normality requires an able political adult in the White House.” Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe
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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Have 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.
- Leadership may be hard to define.
- The pandemic has spread fear, disease and death.
- In times of crisis it is easy to identify a true leader.
- A true leader will demonstrate resolve, courage and empathy.
- Leaders are compassionate.
- Several countries made swift and decisive actions.
- Women leaders were most effective.
- They reassured the people.
- All these feats and figures, of course, require caveats.
- Women have earned plaudits at home and abroad for their handling of the crisis.
Grammar Focus: Identifying 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.
Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with, since,
The master class ___how___respond belongs ___ Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister ___New Zealand.
President Tsai Ing-wen ___Taiwan likewise responded ___the first sign___the new danger.
Leadership may be hard ___ define, but___times___crisis it is easy ___ identify.
Germany’s relatively low mortality rate, ___example, may reflect a far higher rate ___testing than other countries.
Reading Comprehension: True /False/NA-Statements
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify.
- The master class on how to respond belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
- Prime Mnister Jacinda Ardern said. “Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.”
- Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the liberal prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison.
- Two other examples of countries where swift and decisive action helped allay the impact of the disease and unite the nation were North Korea and Malaysia.
- Ms. Ardern has three children.
- Women, a majority among the national leaders of the world, emerged among the most effective and reassuring of them.
- The world leader with a background as a scientist is Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
- Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, “Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.”
- Two countries mentioned in the article as having the worst leadership were the U.S. and China.
III. Post Reading Activities
Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea
Directions: Have students use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with discussing or writing about the main points from the article.
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- In your opinion, what makes a person a great leader?
- Create a list of qualities that would describe a great leader.
- Have you ever been in a position of leadership? Describe your experience including the challenges and how you over came them. What did your experience teach you?
- After reading the article make a list of the leaders (local or global) that you think handled the coronavirus pandemic most effectively.
- The article states, “The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.” Why do you think Prime Minister Ardern is referred to as being in the ‘master class’? Do you agree? Why?
- In the article, most of the effective leaders are women. Did this surprise you? Explain why or why not.
- What new information have you learned after reading this article?
Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.
Additional Project: Creating Online videos
School Tube: students can create their own individual videos or arrange group projects with the teacher’s support. New discussions on COVID-19.