In the Classroom
Activities for Integrating
Civics in Adult English Language Learning
The suggestions for activities listed below come from years
of practice in adult ESL where teachers were successfully able to
integrate language and civics content.
ALRCs Citizenship Page
The Adult Learning Resource Center in Des Plaines web site has a
good selection of citizenship preparation materials: a resource
materials list, notices on INS procedure changes, a sample interview
that resulted from a collaboration between area educators and the
INS, and a variety of classroom materials.
Education and Employment Program (REEP) ESL Curricula
REEP has developed an on-line adult ESL instructional system to
assist educators in enabling adult students of English to navigate
U.S. systems. Lifeskills instruction, student voice, and integration
of technology are cornerstones of this system, which consists of
9 proficiency levels ranging from low beginning to advanced. (added
This site offers the products of a three-year demonstration project by the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas. The project integrates EL-Civics learning activities into an Even Start family literacy program. The activities are for beginning level ESL students, and the site includes 19 lesson plans. Other teacher resources are included. (added 2/7/05)
A Growing Body of Useful Information
The Bright Ideas project builds on and extends practical research
in how adults best learn English and how programs can implement
promising practices. The variety of products on this site include
learning materials for students, tips for teachers, and assorted
papers of use to teachers, policy makers, and other researchers
in the field. (added 10/30/03)
2000 Educational Materials
This site features educational materials that were developed for
ESL and Citizenship teachers to help them inform their students
about the census.
This site is designed to keep citizenship educators updated on pertinent
naturalization and citizenship test issues, including information
about the new test and updates on key changes in policy and practice.
Language & Civil Society, a Forum Electronic Journal, has produced
a volume on Civic Education. It contains 10 chapters on topics such
as "Rights of the Individual," "Responsibilities
of the Government," and "Societal Dilemmas: Finding a
Balance". Each chapter has background information and lesson
and Citizenship Collection
Maintained by the New England Literacy Resource Center, this
is a rich collection of materials and websites on Civic Participation
and Citizenship. There are five categories in this collection: History
and Civil Rights; Immigrant Experience; Media Literacy; Adult Education
Project Descriptions; and Voting, Government, and the Constitution.
Many of the individual sites in this collection have been reviewed
and approved for inclusion in this sub-category of the ESL Special
Connections: Education for Involved Communities
These are sample pages from "The Community Connections"
curriculum, which is available at cost through the Curriculum
Publications Clearinghouse. It is a fully reproducible, multilevel
curriculum that contains six units: The Democratic Process, Community
and Home Safety, The Public Library, The U.S. School System, Public
Health Services, and Housing. (added 10/10/03)
This is a site that makes it easy to find out who your U.S. representatives
Easy Voter Guide
These are easy-to-read materials about how to pick a candidate and
how to vote.
A wide-ranging collection of resources that address both civics
issues and practical teaching strategies.
Literacy Civics Education Resource Center
These are civics resources, broadly defined to include parent involvement
and workforce preparation, collected by Texas Center for Adult Literacy.
The Fairfax County EL/Civics Curriculum includes modules on government/
civic participation, health, and consumer awareness. It is designed
for upper level ESOL classes and adult high school classes. (added
This site documents a three-year project, supported by the FannieMae
Foundation, to support the teaching of first-time homebuying readiness
to immigrants (and other adult education students).
The material on this site is adapted, with permission, from the
magazine, the New Internationalist. The aim is to "provide
material that is relatively easy for learners to read, but which
hasn't lost its 'edge.'" The readings are about global issues
(e.g. fair trade, Iraq, child labor, etc.) with scaffolding support,
such as background information about countries, glossing of text,
comprehension and vocabulary quizzes, teachers and learners pages.
Learning Edge, an interactive
This online interactive resource covers a variety of practical topics
(bills, street safety, etc.) while addressing content areas such
as social studies, science, and reading. Multimedia activities help
maintain student interest.
Little Book On-Line
This online civics text is a handy resource for educators. It goes
beyond the basics to include topics such as "economic systems"
and "economic concepts."
Budget Guide: Who Hurts? Who Pays? (Teachers Guide)
These materials were adapted from United for a Fair Economy,
an advocacy organization in Massachusetts. They apply specifically
to the Massachusetts budget crisis, but the lessons and techniques
used in this curriculum can be adapted for any state. There are
several learning exercises for ESL students included in the curriculum.
Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to print a copy of the
Handout Packet to use this curriculum. A free copy of Adobe
can be downloaded by clicking on the "Web Tools" button.
The MLCs Citizenship
This Minnesota Literacy Council site for citizenship preparation
has many interesting features including information about the census,
a detailed list of the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen, and
citizenship tutoring tips.
My History Is America's History
"My History Is America's History" offers resources to help students
explore their family history, identify how their family story fits
into the larger framework of American history. The site offers a
collection of stories of immigrants (Click on "Your Stories",
then "Featured Stories") that can be used in the classroom
as source materials.
This site links to a four-hour voter education curriculum (available
in English and Spanish) called "New Citizens Vote!: An Educational
Curriculum About Voting."
and Politics: A Civic Literacy Curriculum
Students learn how to identify the issues most important to them,
ask the right questions and select a candidate whose platform reflects
their own concerns.
This multi-faceted lesson plan helps students to understand political
campaign advertising and candidate's positions so they can make
educated decisions at the polls.
Students for an INS Interview
This link is a list of pointers about "Preparing Students for
an INS Interview"
from veteran citizenship educator and author Lynne Weintraub.
Vote Smart Lesson Plans
These lesson plans have been designed for government and social
studies teachers, but the information and ideas can be translated
into the EL/Civics classroom.
with the Police: An English Language and Civics Workbook
The workbook is designed for use with immigrant populations that
may be scared of talking with authority figures like the police.
This downloadable curriculum is targeted for high beginner/low intermediate
students, but includes material that may be relevant to immigrants
at all levels. (added 10/10/03)
Teaching Civics in a Multilevel ESL Class
This entry from the Pennsylvania ABLE Staff Handbook is written by an ESOL teacher who needs to figure out what goes into an EL Civics curriculum framework.
Adult ESOL Curriculum Resource Book
The Center for Literacy Studies/University of Tennessee has produced
this book which includes many civics student learning plans (lesson
plans). The lesson plans are clear and easy-to-use in any classroom
setting, and they are correlated to the Equipped For the Future
standards. Note: Downloading this file requires Adobe Acrobat Reader,
which is available for free by clicking on the Web Tools button
on the left.
Visiting the Doctor
This site offers a variety of activities (health-related readings, dialogues, poem-writing, vocabulary practice) and useful links related to medical care. It also invites students to submit their own writings on health topics. There is a link to Go Ask Alice! where readers can send questions to health educations and get frank answers or can search the archives for previously asked questions..
from the League of Women Voters
This website contains information on voting, candidates, election
issues, and links to other websites for voters.
Your Government, Your
Taxes, Your Choices
The Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education has created this
curriculum that addresses services the state provides, taxes people
pay and issues of fairness, and advocacy. The curriculum is intended
primarily for Massachusetts, but it also provides a model for other
states. The language in the curriculum is geared for mid-beginning
ESOL learners, but each lesson also contains ideas for adapting
the curriculum for students at beginning and more advanced levels.