This is the second in a series of three articles about Integrating English Language instruction with Civics Education (IELCE).
There are three basic areas to integrate civics education into English language instruction. You can include materials and interactions for the workplace, community, or citizenship. This article will focus on the latter, U.S. Citizenship through the incorporation of field trips.
No matter where you live, there are many different field trip possibilities which can incorporate U.S. citizenship into English language teaching. Successful field trips require planning early in the school year. Reservations are often necessary and transportation may need to be arranged. Prepare your students by reading about the place you plan to visit and teaching relevant vocabulary. Include questions from the 100-question U.S. Citizenship test. Afterwards, have students write a journal entry or report of what they observed and learned. For more advanced levels, students can research and write a short paper on a topic which piqued their interest.
To learn about important historical people, visit a history museum or an historic home/place. My class visits the Michigan Historical Museum and they are always impressed by the early native Americans & traders and of course, the Model T Fords. You could tour the home of a famous person, or battlefield in your area. We visit Greenfield Village which contains homes of many famous Americans, and examples of slave quarters. Or you visit a presidential library to learn more about the executive branch. Historic living villages and reenactments demonstrate how people used to live and fight battles in the past. Native American centers or events teach about America's first immigrants. Many students are surprised to learn that native Americans came from Asia and Russia.
To observe government at work, visit a local government building like the county courthouse or city hall, or attend a local government meeting. My class visits a polling station during a slow time on an election day. Onsite managers are usually eager to encourage future Americans to vote. My students are pleased to see the verification process and private voting booths. If you can, visit your state capitol building. There students can observe the state Senate and House of Representatives at work and see the state Supreme Court chambers. Sometimes we meet with our representative and governor. Attending a Naturalization Oath Ceremony is inspiring to both students and teachers alike. Many of my students seek U.S. citizenship and are excited to see the government in action. In addition, I encourage my students to visit Washington, D.C. and tour the White House, U.S. Capitol and other buildings.
This is by no means a complete list of field trips, but I hope these ideas inspire you to think about places and events which will help you to integrate civics into your English language program. These firsthand experiences will give your students a better understanding of U.S. citizenship and hopefully motivate immigrant students to seek U.S. citizenship.