ESL US Government Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Through activities in this lesson plan, you will be able to support your English Language Learners in understanding the roles and composition of the three branches of the U.S. Government. Students will read, discuss, ask questions, and present information in English.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify vocabulary related to the U.S. Government
  • comprehend vocabulary related to the U.S. Government
  • identify basic composition and roles of each branch of the U.S. Government
  • discuss information with peers
  • present information orally to a group
  • write questions related to academic content


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards

ELP 9-12.1 ELLs will construct meaning from oral presentations and literary and informational text through grade-appropriate listening, reading, and viewing.

ELP 9-12.2 ELLs will participate in grade-appropriate oral and written exchanges of information, ideas, and analyses, responding to peer, audience, or reader comments and questions.

ELP 9-12.8 ELLS will determine the meanings of words and phrases in oral presentations and literary and informational text.

ELP 9-12.9 ELLs will create clear and coherent grade-appropriate speech and text.

Materials Needed

  • Projector or SMART Board
  • Diagram of the U.S. Federal Government (with all related vocabulary terms included)
  • Executive Branch handout (1 per student)
  • Legislative Branch handout (1 per student)
  • Judicial Branch handout (1 per student)
  • Three pieces of chart paper
  • Government fact cards and vocabulary cards


  • Constitution/constitutional
  • Democracy
  • Executive branch
    • President
      • Commander-in-Chief
    • Vice-President
    • Cabinet
      • Secretary of Labor
      • Secretary of Defense
      • Secretary of State
      • Secretary of Transportation
      • Secretary of Education
  • Federal
  • Judicial branch
    • Supreme Court
    • Justices of the Supreme Court
  • Legislative branch
    • Congress
    • House of Representatives
    • Senate/Senator
    • Speaker of the House
  • Republic


  • To begin the lesson, ask students to brainstorm as many different kinds of government as they can. Get them started by asking what kind of government they had in their native country, and work up to the kind of government we have in the United States--a federal republic.
  • Explain that many people think that the United States is a democracy, but it actually isn't; in a democracy, one person has one vote and the votes directly elect members of the government. In the U.S., at the federal level, the people vote and then selected electors cast votes for the President. We also have a constitution that sets out the parts of our government and identifies the duties that each part has. This makes us a constitutional federal republic, or some people like to call our government a constitutional representative democracy.
  • Using a SMARTBoard or projector, display a diagram of the federal government, which shows the three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial). Explain to the students that our federal government is divided into three main sections; point to each one as you say its name.

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