The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month
One of the tasks of teaching ESL is to help students not only understand the language, but also to comprehend the nuances of the culture. For second language learners in the United States, this would include learning about the observance of Veterans Day.
The original observance in the United States of Veterans Day was called Armistice Day. It was a celebration of peace coming to the world at the end of World War I. WWI was called "the war to end all wars." Sadly, this was not the case.
In teaching Veterans Day lesson plans, it will be important to be sensitive to the cultures of the students. Many ESL students come from countries rife with war and conflict. Discussions can bring up traumatic memories, anger, and fear. Therefore, it would be wise to assess how best to present this lesson by looking at the countries of origin of the students. Understanding what they or their families might have lived through will help teachers prepare the Veterans Day lesson plan.
To begin the lesson, teach how and why this day is observed. Teachers can either give a brief synopsis of the history or assign students to research the history. If you choose to use a WebQuest as the means to research Veterans Day, have the students go to the Veterans Administration site. It gives an excellent explanation of the history.
If you decide to have students research in books at the library, it will be important to explain that the original name for the holiday was Armistice Day. Another important point to bring to the students' attention is that it was a day to celebrate peace in the world.