These are some resources I put together about the presidential election, way back in 2008. The focus of the class was less on the individual candidates and more on the process of the presidential election itself. It’s the process that often confuses international students. Finding information on the candidates is often the easiest part. A lot of newspapers publish articles such as, “Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Economic Plans: A Comparison” with lots of tables and clear summaries. Those are great for ESL students!
Feel free to share your go-to election day resources in the comments
With any conversation class, you want to make sure you have lots of background information. When dealing with something as complicated as the US election for president, the class is going to have a lot of questions. So you either need to read up and bring materials to look up anything you didn’t memorize. Or you need resources that the students can read and research themselves.
Resources and Materials on the American Presidential Election
Read Article II of the Constitution which defines how a President is elected and the powers of the President. Links to relevant amendments are provided in the text.
Wikipedia also has the text of Article II with explanations in plain English. I wouldn’t recommend giving beginner or pre-intermediate students the original text of the Constitution because it is difficult. Better to summarize for them.
Presidential and VP Debate transcripts from 2008 to 1960. Provided by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-profit that sponsors the debates. An interesting conversation topic there: Should independent organizations sponsor debates?
Simplified readings on the candidates and the election process including a good explanation of the electoral college system.
If you have computers with the Internet in the classroom, All About Electing a President is a pretty good slideshow summary of the process from primary to election. And has more in-depth guides to topics such as delegates and primaries.
Lesson Plans on the American Presidential Election
The New York Times provides lesson plans based on relevant issues and linked to articles. Good materials and interesting ideas. I particularly like the ones on political humor and caricatures. However, students may not be used to that in their country.
These lesson plans involves in-depth research on the political process in the US. The lesson plans here are best for intermediate-advanced students. Students also need access to the Internet or a good library. However, the worksheets are great for thinking of guiding questions or evaluating how much you know about the presidential elections.
Here are some conversation questions from Heads Up English on the Election 2008. And some are still quite relevant.
The US Election Facts Quiz is a pretty interesting. This quiz will help students find out if they are a Democrat or a Republican. International students in particular enjoy that because they can understand the meaning of the American political parties.