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ESL Leadership Vocabulary

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Leadership is often misunderstood as a position of formal authority, but anyone with the right abilities can be a leader. This lesson offers ideas for teaching ESL students vocabulary and concepts about leadership.

Introducing Leadership

To begin your leadership vocabulary lesson, ask your students which leaders they admire and why. Based on the conversation, continue by giving them the beginning of a definition of leadership. For instance, you could say, ''Leadership is the ability to... ''

This should elicit responses from your ESL students about different leadership activities like:

  • ...direct people to achieve a goal.
  • ...guide others in times of trouble.

Once your students have their responses, you could ask if they can think of a family member who has directed the family toward a goal, for example. Or, you could ask your students to think of a time when they guided others. This way, your students get the sense of leadership in their personal lives.

Now that you have your students thinking about leadership, they are ready to review some leadership vocabulary.

Leadership Vocabulary

Since leadership includes abilities, actions and characteristics, your ESL students can benefit from learning leadership vocabulary in these different categories.

Leadership Abilities

This category includes the vocabulary of important leadership abilities, such as:

  • Guidance
  • Initiative
  • Advocacy
  • Stewardship
  • Motivation
  • Networking
  • Responsibility
  • Dependability
  • Generosity
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility

With each of these words, you can give your ESL students a basic definition of each word. Your students can then tell why the ability is important. For example, you define guidance as a skill that enables leaders to direct a group toward a goal. Then, your students discuss or write the importance of guidance, for instance, because a leader directs people who don't know which way to go.

As another activity, your students can think of how a leader exercised an ability in a specific situation. To illustrate, you could give your students your own example such as: ''Mayor Jones has initiative. She is creating more green spaces in my city.''

Leadership Qualities

For characteristics of leadership and leaders, you can present the following words:

  • Charismatic
  • Responsible
  • Competent
  • Decisive
  • Open-minded
  • Motivated
  • Objective
  • Calm
  • Ethical
  • Sociable
  • Empathetic
  • Loyal
  • Trustworthy
  • Communicative
  • Inspirational

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