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Free ESL Lesson: Declaration of Independence

written by: KellenKautzman • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 12/18/2013

Teach about the U.S. Independence Day to ESL students in this fascinating lesson. Give your students the chance to declare their independence and understand their freedom.

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    When in the Course of Human Events...

    Declaration of Independence (Depiction) 

    In this lesson, you will teach the meaning of the U.S. Independence Day to ESL students by having them write their own declaration of independence. By having them literally write a declaration themselves, you will get to witness their experience of the United States Independence Day grow into a more mature understanding.

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    It's Not Fair!

    When you teach about the U.S. Independence Day to ESL students, have a large map showing the stretch from England to The U.S. Have a writing prompt ready that reads,Atlantic Ocean: England to U.S. 

    • Define a King and a Queen.
    • What is independence?
    • What day is Independence Day?
    • Do you want to be independent? Why?

    Give your students a few minutes to start. You should be able to judge by the questions your students are asking, whether they know what independence is. When they are wrapping up, explain to them that there was a King of England, named George III, who really made the leaders of the United States very upset. They wrote a very long paper on all of the things that were making them angry. That document, called a “declaration," was meant to make the United States independent of England.

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    Finding Your Independence

    Have a conversation with your students about the complaints you have heard in school: not enough time at recess, not enough food at lunch, too much homework, not enough time to take tests, etc.

    Give your students time in small groups to gather a list of complaints about the treatment of people their age, in general. When they have finished, collect the lists and hold onto them for later. Have your students take out their notebooks and answer the following questions regarding their list of complaints.

    Important Questions

    • Declaration of Independence (Draft) (USA) Who makes the rules?
    • Who decides what is fair, and what is not?
    • When are these decisions made?
    • How does someone change a rule?
    • How does someone declare that they are no longer bound by the rules of another?
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    Creating the Declaration

    Now, it is up to the students to create a declaration of independence. This declaration is structured in the following way:

    Section 1. What we believe is true and good behavior.

    Section 2. List of things have happened that we don’t like and want to stop.

    Section 3. Write that we are now independent and free, and describe what that looks like.

    Section 4. Everyone who agrees signs the class’s declaration of independence.

    As you continue to teach about the U.S. Independence Day to ESL students through the process of writing this document, keep the entire class working on the document. You can divide the class into groups, but it is more authentic if the entire class works on the document, together. If some students don't want to write the document, because they are struggling with ESL grammar, help including them in the group by asking for their opinions. When they have finished, simply tell them, “What you just finished doing is very similar to what happened in July 4, 1776. The only difference is that the United States leaders were writing to England and were talking about George III.

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    Summary

    Teach your students what independence is through writing their own Declaration of Independence. Add substance to the Fourth of July holiday by giving your students a chance to feel what it was like to write such an important document. Have your students work together in a large group to create and finish the declaration and be sure to guide them as to the structure of the document. Enjoy watching your students gain their independence.

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