top of page
Image by Jon Sailer

HOPE Literacy

Citizenship Resources

This guide has been written to prepare teachers to take their students through the naturalization process and for use in the HOPE Literacy 3-hour Citizenship Training.

Click on the following topics to learn more:

Citizenship and Naturalization Definitions

The United States Center for Immigration and Naturalization Service (USCIS) as Your Guide

USCIS Website Pages and Resources to Read and Copy for Teaching Notebook

Information and Resources for the New Test

Important Things to Know That Will Protect Your Students

The New Test

Citizenship Goals

Fluency Levels

Teaching Beginner Students

Language Teaching

Low Beginner Level ESL/Citizenship Lesson Plan

Teaching Intermediate and Advanced Students

Planning a Lesson Teaching All Goals

Citizenship Lesson Plan Teaching One Goal Weekly

Citizenship Lesson Plan Teaching All Goals Weekly


Communicative Activities and Games Used in Teaching Citizenship

Citizenship Curriculum

Other Resources





Citizenship and Naturalization Definitions

Citizenship is an immigration benefit of individuals who are born within the territory of the United States, who are born to U. S. citizen parents, or pass the process for naturalization.

Naturalization is the process that gives the benefit of Citizenship to a foreign citizen or national.



The United States Center for Immigration and Naturalization as Your Guide

The most important source of information for citizenship and naturalization is the United States Center for Immigration and Naturalization (USCIS), which can be found at They are responsible for all citizenship and naturalization issues and set the guidelines for the test and administer it. Citizenship information is available from many sources like HOPE Literacy and other non-profits, publisher’s citizenship curriculum, and websites, but only the USCIS has the truest and most up-to-date information. Refer all questions to them. The USCIS Customer Service contact number is 1-800-375-5283. Menu item 3 is the best choice for general information as there is no general information number when a teacher is calling to ask a question. If you are calling to ask a question pertaining to your student, your student will have to be present.

As a citizenship teacher you can choose to only teach the information necessary for your students to take the U.S. Naturalization Test or you can also make yourself available to help them through the process of applying for naturalization. There are some individuals and entities that are taking advantage of those who are applying for naturalization, requiring them to pay high fees to file their paperwork when the filing can be done by the students with a little help from you, the citizenship teacher.


USCIS Website Pages and Resources to Read and Copy for Teaching Notebook

1.    Go to
2.    Click on “Learn About U.S. Citizenship” on the left side of the page.
3.    Read and copy the Citizenship Page.
4.    Click on “Naturalization Information” at the bottom of the Citizenship page, read and copy.
5.    Click on, M-476 Guide to Naturalization to the right of the Naturalization page. As it is so long, you may want to download the M-476 Guide to Naturalization onto a disk or CD to copy at an office supply store. If you don't have Adobe Reader software you can download it free from the Adobe Corporation. Every citizenship director and teacher needs to read and be familiar with the guide.
6.    Go back to the Naturalization page, click on and copy the N-400, Application for Naturalization to the right.
7.    Go back to the Naturalization page, click on The U.S. Naturalization Test, read and copy.
8.    Go to the very bottom of the U.S. Naturalization Test page, click on the Redesigned (New) Naturalization Test. At the bottom of this page, copy the following teaching resources: Redesigned (New) Naturalization Test: Vocabulary List for the English Reading Test, Redesigned (New) Naturalization Test: Vocabulary List for the English Writing Test, Redesigned (New) Naturalization Test: Civics (History and Government) Questions, Civics Flash Cards for the New Naturalization Test, Civics Flash Cards for the New Naturalization Tests (reversed colors), Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lessons for the New Naturalization Test
9.    Go back to the bottom of the U.S. Naturalization Test page click on the Old Naturalization Tests if you are working with students who will take the old test. Copy the old teaching resources similar to those above.
10.    Look on the top of any page and click on Education and Resources. When this page comes up, click on Civics and Citizenship Study Materials to the left. When this page comes up, click on the helpful websites to the right. Ben’s Guide and National Archives ( are great. At the bottom of the page are more resources such as the Citizens Almanac and Pocket Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States. To the left of the Civics and Citizenship Materials page is a link to the Immigration Legal History.


Important Information That Will Protect Your Students

1. Be sure applicants can be understood.
2. Make sure they understand that they are allowed to ask their examiner to repeat the question.
3. Teach the students to understand and respect the examiner’s job.
4. Make sure students understand they are NEVER to lie. Let them know they must tell  
the truth about paying taxes, selective service, date of entry, all dates, marital past, criminal record and affiliation with any groups.
5. Students are allowed to request that family members be interviewed on the same day. They need to send that request in with their application.
6. Make sure you check the USCIS web site often to keep up with information.
7. No cell phones are allowed in the processing centers. Watch your dress for anything that would set off the detectors.
8. Keep a copy of your student’s paperwork in a file with that student’s name and bring it with you when going to the district office, even if they have theirs. Check their paperwork the class time before you go and before you drive over.
9. Double-check their application and especially the dates with their green card and other paper work.
10. Students who are in religious groups that prohibit their members from taking oaths should explain this to their examiner.
11. Women students need to understand that they may be asked by an examiner if they would take up arms for their country. Saying that they would have their fathers, brothers or husbands fight for them will cause them to fail. They need to say that they would.
12. Read the information about Info Pass on the web site. You need an internet connection, Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, Netscape 4.0 or higher or any other similar browser. Make the appointment with your student if possible, perhaps on a computer where you have classes. Keep a copy of the appointment print out. This must be brought with your student to the appointment.
13. If possible, it’s best to go with your student when they need to visit the district processing center. You can hear what the official says and better help them. Much can be lost in translation.
14. It may seem frustrating to deal with the USCIS for those of you who have just begun to work with citizenship students, but it is a lot better than in years gone by. They are continuing to improve their public relations. Give polite feedback when you have a difficult time, as this is the only way they find out about problems. You will find that officials are often more helpful to your students when you’re with them then if they are doing business alone. Be patient and pray for the Lord to help you speak and deal with the most helpful people.
15. Pay attention to the information on those who are older than 50 and are disabled.
Students who are 65 years and older, who have lived in the United States a total of 20 years may take the simpler version of the Civics Test in their own language.
16. Males 18-25 need to register for selective service before they apply for Naturalization. They can register at a U.S. Post Office or online at They must have a Social Security number before registering. The number to call for this is 1-800-688-6888.
17. At the end of their interview your student will be given form N-652 that gives the information about the results of the interview. They will also be given form N-445 Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony. Make sure they can answer and mark questions on the back of this form. If more than a day has passed between the student's interview and the ceremony, they may be asked questions on the back of the form such as, “Have you traveled outside the U.S.?” They should not have.
18. Make sure your student knows they must return their Permanent Resident Card when they take their oath.
19. If their Certificate of Naturalization is ever lost they need to get form N-565. They can download it from the web site or call 1-800-870-3676 to have it mailed to them.
20. In reference to all their verbal and written communication with the USCIS, you need to make it clear to your students that they should be sure to tell the truth. Any statement or piece of information that is incorrect like the date in which they entered the U. S. or a birth date will hinder them from becoming citizens in a timely manner.
21. Before you begin teaching or helping your student with any paperwork, go through the Eligibility Worksheet in the Guide to Naturalization to make sure your student qualifies to become a naturalized citizen.


The New Test

Students will be tested on the following:
1.    Reading – Students could be asked to read parts of the N-400 Application, read a set of civics questions and answer them, or read several simple sentences aloud.
2.    Writing – Students may be asked to write several simple sentences.
3.    Speaking – Students may be asked to answer questions about themselves or their application.
4.    Civics – Students may verbally answer a set of civics questions or take a written multiple-choice test with up to 10 questions.




Citizenship Goals

The teaching goals that should be covered in a Citizenship class are listed below.

1. Teaching Moral Character
2. Small Talk/Personal Questions from N-400 – Read and Write Them Also
3. History/Government Facts
4. USCIS Civics Questions
5. Reading/Writing Sample Civics and Everyday Sentences
6. Pronunciation for Speaking




Fluency Levels

To better prepare our students in learning English as a Second Language and those preparing for the U.S. Test for Naturalization, we must first understand what their needs are.  To do this we administer a placement test.  Students are placed in classes according to their speaking ability, not by their comprehension. The students who attend ESL Ministries are found in one of the categories below. It would be best if students were on a high-beginner level before beginning citizenship classes.

Illiterate – students of any speaking level may not be able to read and write in English or their first language, though most often this need is found in beginner students. We might say a student is a zero level illiterate student, an illiterate beginner, intermediate, or advanced student.

Zero Level or Novices - have basically no English vocabulary. They find it difficult to even give personal information like their name, address or phone number.

Beginners – speak very limited English, usually fewer that 100 words, rarely use complete sentences, may read English but not comprehend, need practice with dialogues, reading, writing and grammar.

Intermediates – have fairly good oral and written vocabulary range, but when they converse in sentences, their grammar is very poor, especially need help with prepositions and verb tenses.

Advanced – usually can converse freely in English, but with some structure and pronunciation problems, need to work on pronunciation, idioms, slang, vocabulary expansion.



Teaching Beginner Students

In a perfect world all our students would at least be on a high beginner level. They wouldn’t have already sent in their paperwork three months ago about to be called in for an interview in a month. But let’s face it…we don’t live in a perfect world! Our beginner ESL students want to become citizens right away. We love them and want to help them as much as we can. We do not want to be sticklers about their language level. The Lord may have led them straight to us for His purpose. If we harden our heart about teaching them or anyone with a level we’ve decided is too low, perhaps we will miss a great opportunity. God is big enough to protect His ministry and us. I’ve seen Him give grace to teachers of low-level citizenship students, so that they were able to help the class with their ESL and citizenship needs. I’ve found that for those who are still beginners, using an ESL/Civics curriculum like Look at the U.S. on the Literacy level is best. Teaching just a little slower using the Voices of Freedom or Citizenship Passing the Test is fine too. Because students in citizenship class are rarely ever speaking on an advanced level, taking an ESL training workshop would be wise for a citizenship teacher. The key is dependence on the Lord, continuous prayer for your students, and an acceptance that you meet your students where they are not where you want them to be. It can be done. It just takes longer and requires more flexibility.




Language Teaching

For those of you who haven’t attended any ESL training and as a reminder to those who have, here are some important suggestions for teaching those students who are speaking on a beginner or low intermediate level.

1.    Repeat the words, questions, and sentences to be learned, exactly as we would say them, using the same intonation and stress each time. Do what you need to do to make sure your student understands: give them the questions in their language, if possible; show pictures; use dictionaries.
2.    Say the questions and answers at least 3x so that your students can really hear them, then allow your students to practice saying the answers at least 3x. Allow 5xs for both with students of lower levels. You may also have to break the questions down into word or phrase repetition first. Give ample time for reading and writing practice.
3.    Listen as your students repeat the words and sentences to be memorized. If they pronounce something incorrectly, write their pronunciation need down for future practice, have them look at your mouth, listen to you say the correct sound or sounds 3-5x, then have them repeat 3-5x. Refer to an ESL pronunciation text or the “Sounds of English” section in the North American Mission Board ESL Manual, (TELL) Teaching English Language Learners The Good News. These resources should help you understand how each sound is made, so that you can reproduce it for your student.
4.    Allow ample practice time for your students to say the answers needing to be learned. Practice as a group with you asking questions and your students taking turns answering. Put them in pairs, interviewing each other. Have them listen to a tape of another person asking the questions and allow them to answer. Use other activities to encourage practice. This variety will help prepare them for whatever examiner they will be given.
5.    A person must say a word 40-60 times before it becomes part of their vocabulary.
6.    Beginners can only ingest 8-12 new words at a time.
7.    Be encouraging.
8.    Smile a lot.
9.    Don’t say “No” when students make a mistake, just say “Listen” and repeat the question or sentence correctly.
10.    Make sure your students practice speaking more than you!




Teaching Beginner Students

Beginners - If you are teaching students, who are on a low beginner speaking level, use the Beginner Level ESL/Citizenship Lesson Plan. For high beginners through advanced you may want to use the Citizenship Lesson Plan Teaching One Goal. Many of the Citizenship books available will begin with lessons that teach the student to answer personal questions drawn from the N-400 form, they then move to history and government facts. Teachers who have beginner students may want to follow this format teaching one goal at a time. If you have beginner students it would be best to attend an ESL Workshop before teaching. The format in teaching citizenship to beginners will be much the same as teaching a beginner ESL lesson. You will use a citizenship textbook such as Voices of Freedom as your basic text. If you do teach beginner students using the Beginner English Level ESL/Citizenship Lesson Plan, be sure to cover all the six goals before your students take the test. For those of you who have students on a low literacy level as well, you may want to use the reading curriculum: The Light is Coming or The Laubach Way to Reading. The key to success is dependence on the Lord, continuous prayer and an acceptance that you meet your students where they are, not where you want them to be. It can be done it just takes longer and requires more patience and flexibility.


Low Beginner Level ESL/Citizenship Lesson Plan

Level-Class/ Books/Chapter/Page: Beginner 1, Voices of Freedom, Book 1, TB p. 4 – SB p. 2
Props: name tags, markers, bean bag, registration form, driver’s license, sentence strips in bags, 3x5 cards
1. Date: June 9, 2005

2. Prayer/Spiritual Lesson: Write on the board in students language, if possible, Psalm 111:9 “Holy and awesome is His name.” Say, “Let’s pray”. Fold your hands and bow your head.  Pray simply, “Dear God, help us to learn English and remember it.”

3. Educational Lesson: (Write on board.) Personal information

4. Cultural Lesson: We shake hands in America as we exchange personal greetings. Shake with a firm handshake twice and drop.

5. Ice Breaker/Review Game: Write I’m Cindy Harrison, on board. Show driver’s license; point to name. Write name on a name tag and put it on. Have students write their name on name tags and put on. Put students in a circle. Say,  I’m Cindy Harrison while running your hand under the sentence. Come to circle; repeat and throw a bean bag to
someone. If student can’t say the sentence, help them.
6. Introduce Dialogue for Comprehension: Draw a line on the board with first, middle and last underneath. Hold up a registration form. Use sock puppets and talk back and forth.
          What’s you name?                 My name is Cindy Harrison. Point to after saying.
          What’s your first name?        My first name is Cindy. Point to.
          What’s your middle name?    My middle name is Ann? Point to.
          What’s your middle initial?   It’s A. Point to.
          What’s your last name? (surname, family)  My last name is Harrison? Point to.
Tell them that surname and family name are the same and that married women have a maiden name. Some examiners may say family or surname. Write on board last = family = surname. Say same. Show three items that are the same.
7. Have Students Read then Write Dialogue in Notebooks: Read, running your hand under questions and answers. Leave out teacher’s name.
8. Drill Words: What’s = What is, your, my, is, first, middle, last, surname, family, initial, name. It’s  =  It is
9. Pronunciation: Practice as needed. Write problem sounds on board with word in dialogue: /s/ first, last, what’s, it’s. Underline sound in word. Show mouth, tongue, and teeth placement. Do repetition with sounds and words 5x. Hum sound to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” tune.

10. Activity to Practice Words: Draw pile – Give students 14 3x5 cards; have each of them write vocabulary words on  separate cards; put them in small groups; have them make a draw pile and take turns drawing and saying the word on the card. Have other students repeat in chorus after the drawer says the word.

11. Drill Sentences: My name is ____________.
                                         My first name is_________.
                                         My middle name is_______. My middle initial is ____.
                                         My last name is __________. My family name is _________.
                                         My surname is _________.

 12. Activity to Practice Sentences: Write sentences on sentence strips. Cut apart and put in large Zip Lock bags. Put students in small groups and have them race one another to put together. They must say all sentences before they raise their hands, saying they’re through.

13. Drill Question:  What’s your name?
                                           What’s your first name?
                                           What’s your middle name? What’s your middle initial?
                                           What’s your last name? What’s your surname? What’s your         
                                            family name?
14. Chain Drill Dialogue With Half Class Asking Question, Half Answering With Sentence: Have students say their own names.
 15. Chain Drill Dialogue With One Person Asking Question, Next Person Answering With a Sentence:  Do this as needed.

 16. Final Comprehension Activity With Whole Dialogue: Run the Gauntlet - Give students a sheet with the dialogue printed. Have them get in two lines facing each other and with students close enough to take turns asking and answering questions. When most students have gone through the dialogue once, have the person on the end of one line walk briskly between the lines facing each other to the other end on their side. This will continue to give students a new person to practice with. Repeat several times. Students can also be put in circles, with one circle turning as they exchange information - Circles Game.

17. Grammar/Reading/Writing Practice: Be sure students have practiced writing dialogue enough. In this lesson they practiced the words with 3x5 cards and copied the dialogue into their notebooks. If there is time, they could do the fill in the blanks activities in their books. This could also be given as homework
18. Homework: Have students write the sentences to the dialogue three times and be able to write them from memory with correct spelling.
 19. Share Time/Prayer Request: At this level it is hard to give prayer request, but I ask. This is truly something that brings the students together and encourages closeness and friendship with one another.




Teaching Intermediate and Advanced Students

Use either the Citizenship Lesson Plan Teaching One Goal or The Citizenship Lesson Plan Practicing All Goals for these students. I like to teach the six goals that are necessary in passing the Test for Naturalization, little by little each class time, to students who are on an advanced speaking level, so that the students see what we’re trying to accomplish. It is not as tedious if taught together. Students are able to move from one goal to the next with plenty of variety. It is important that you keep the goals on page 5, taken from A Guide to Naturalization, as your guideline. It’s easy to drift toward just the 100 questions and not practice writing sample sentences or equipping your student to really become a good citizen by teaching moral character or history facts. I cannot stress enough how important practice for each part of the interview is.
*Even as the Test for Naturalization changes in 2008, the six goals I’ve listed should remain the focus of a good lesson. You will need to add reading for information to your teaching, as the new test will include reading a paragraph and answering multiple-choice questions. It may also consist of asking those applying to look at a picture and describe it with both a written and a verbal answer.
*Some teachers teach from a basic textbook without a lesson plan. Please don’t give into the temptation to do this because it seems easier. Your student dropout rate will probably be higher. Even though the citizenship textbooks are full of good information and activities, they cannot substitute for your prayerful plans as led by the Holy Spirit and the goals taken from A Guide to Naturalization. It’s not best to allow the citizenship textbook to control you. You need to control the textbook. I’ve found it’s wise to let the personal questions on the N-400, the 100 questions and the sample sentences be the guide for a lesson plan, as these are what the students will be tested on.



Planning a Lesson Teaching All Goals:

1. I ask the Lord for help with a humble heart because He knows what my students need more than I do. I pray for creativity and direction in planning the lesson.
2. I gather all my resources: N-400 form, 100 Sample Questions, Sample Sentences For Written English Testing, Learning Objectives United States History: 1600-1987, Learning Objectives U.S. Government Structure (these can all be downloaded from the USCIS website), Bible, DAR Citizenship Manual, letters, citizenship textbooks, activity books and A History of US. I will also draw from videos, games, real objects, cartoons and short books on a historical person or event.
3. I begin to fill in the lesson plan by pulling out the questions/sentences I’m going to use from the N-400 form, 100 Sample Civics Questions and Sample Sentences For Written English Testing. I base the amount of material we need to cover in a 1-2 hour class time, which may be only two questions/sentences from each, on the English speaking level and literacy level of the students and the time period we’re planning on running the class, 2-4 semesters. You need to decide, based on all these variables, how much material needs to be covered each class time. I write the questions/sentences down on the lesson plan in the proper place and give a brief explanation of how we’re going to practice them after I’ve decided which resources from the DAR Citizenship Manual, citizenship textbook, history book, video, activity book, internet resources, game, activity, cartoons or real objects would be best to use for that particular class.
4. I usually choose what we’ll do in goal #1 – Sharing Christ/Teaching Moral Character based on the 100 Questions and history/government facts we’re covering that night. If we’re learning questions and answers that cover history material during Revolutionary War times such as questions concerning George Washington, I might share a Bible Verse such as Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than men.” I also use short devotional stories of famous Americans, songs, poems and testimony.
5. For the History/ Government Facts goal I would have students read the story of Valley Forge or play a video concerning it and George Washington’s life of integrity, lived for the Lord.
6. I don’t write anything down to practice on pronunciation until we’re in the classroom going through the lesson. As I hear my student’s pronunciation needs, I’ll write down what they have difficulty saying in the Pronunciation for Speaking space. I’ll simply drill the sound, word, sentence or question they’re having trouble with, a few times. I write them down so that I can review them at the end of the month on review day.
7. I give homework that reinforces the material we’ve covered in class such as fill in the blank worksheets or workbook pages.
* Review – Periodically I like to review all we’ve practiced. I’ll type up a review sheet for this, give it to each student then play different games and use several activities to go over all the material. Making a tape for each student of all the 100 questions and answers is also a great gift and review.


Citizenship Lesson Plan Teaching One Goal



1. Date:

2. Prayer/Sharing Christ/Teaching Moral Character:

3. Review last week’s material with an activity:

4. Introduce new material by teaching history and government facts pertinent to questions and by writing civics questions and answers on board for students to copy or give out worksheet with new Bible verse, questions, and answers for that week.  Make sure you clearly say each question and answer and have students repeat. Go to pronunciation practice if needed.)

5. Pronunciation/Repetition: (Say problem sounds, questions and answers 3-5x, have students repeat. Do drills as needed.)

6. Give students practice writing activity for new material:

7. 1 – 3 Oral practice activities for new material:

8. Homework:

9. Share Time/Prayer Request:




Citizenship Lesson Plan Teaching All Goals



1. Date:

2. Prayer/Sharing Christ/Teaching Moral Character:

3. Small Talk/Personal Questions from N-400:

4. History/Government Facts:

5. USCIS 100 Questions:

6. Reading/Writing Sample Sentences:

7. Pronunciation for Speaking:

8. Homework:

9. Share Time/Prayer Request:



Students who begin learning a new language generally over the age of 13 will continue to have an accent. Your goal is to make sure that your students’ speech is understandable.

1. Pronunciation can be taught during guided practice of new material, as students   
    mispronounce sounds, or during  a planned teaching time in which you teach all letters  
    and sounds in the new material.

2. Teach students to recognize the difference between the sounds and the letters when  
   written. Always denote the sound by putting the letter between backslashes, /a/. Denote  
   the letter by writing it alone, a. A good game to initially teach this is Deuces Are Wild.    
   Review each short vowel sound and letter with students. Duplicate each of the short  
   vowel sounds on 3x5 cards. You will have two /a/ cards, two /e/ cards, two /i/ cards,   
   two /o/ cards, and two /u/ cards. Then duplicate the vowel letters in the same  
   way. Begin the game by having your students draw one card from your hand. Ring a  
   bell to begin the game and have students say their sound or letter over and over until  
   they find the student who has the same card. You can then have the students line up,  
   hold their card up for all to see and have them say their sound or letter aloud.

3. Teach the difference between sounds, such as /b/ and /v/, by exaggerating the  
     formation of the mouth, with tongue and teeth placement. Show students that the edge  
    of the lips must turn in slightly, then blow out air, to make the /b/ sound. Show that the  
     top teeth must bite below the bottom lip, then have the teeth slide up while the bottom  
     lip is pushed out, to make the /v/ sound. With each new sound, write the sound /p/ and  
     the word that the sound it is in (pull), on the board before saying it. Sounds are more
     difficult to hear then you may realize. Students may not have a particular sound in
     their language. They must hear it, form it correctly with the mouth, and say it many
     times to remember it.  

4. Be aware that students will have different degrees of difficulty with a sound, according  
     to where it is placed in a word. Sounds are either at the beginning of a word, in the  
     initial position, in the middle of the word, in the medial position, or at the end of the  
     word, in the final position. A student may be able to pronounce the /s/ when it’s at the  
     beginning (snake), but not at the end (yes). When this is the case, practice not just the
     sound by  itself, but the sound in the difficult place, using different words as    
     examples: snake  -  lesson -  yes.

5. Teach individual syllable stress or word stress in a sentence, while conducting your  
    drills. Stress is the emphasis or loudness that a syllable or word possesses. Write the  
    syllable or word  that needs to be studied, on the board, underlining the syllable or  
    word that is stressed. Homework/Let’s go! You can also capitalize the stressed part:  
    HOMEwork or clap loudly for the stressed sounds or words and more softly for the  

6. Teach intonation while conducting your drills as well. Intonation is the variance of  
    pitch, high or low, in a sentence. Sentences rise: “What’s this?” or fall: “I’m going.”  
    Have your students stand up, then move up or down, according to the intonation.
    Write the words at a slant, up or down, on the board, to show rising or falling     
    intonation. Raise your hand up or down. Hum the intonation.

7. Make the learning of sounds FUN! User cheers to teach sounds: wa a a a !   
     Use songs: sing wa to the tune of “Row Row Row Your Boat.”
     Use games to make the sounds clear.      

    Minimal Pair Games      
    Which is different? If contrasting the initial sound, say three words with the first  
     two or last two having the same first letter. Have the students hold up there fingers  
     or say aloud the number that’s different: 1. met, 2. mat, 3. bat. Do the same for the  
     medial:  1. bat, 2. sit, 3. mitt; and final: 1. rave, 2.slave, 3. babe.

    What’s the beginning or ending? Say one word. Have students call out the sound  
    the word ends or begins with. Stipulate whether you’re doing the beginning or ending  
    sound and what sounds you’re contrasting. Ending sound - mole - /l/
    Beginning sound – run - /r/

8. Write the sounds as we say them, on the board, so that the students can visually see
     what’s being said. /Is it?/ is really / Izit?/    /cold day/  is said  /coal day/
     /with this/ the /th/ is held and not pronounced twice /with_this/   /will_laugh/
    ( When a word ends in the same consonant sound that the next word begins with, the
     sound is held.)
    It also helps to underline the strongly pronounced or focal words in a sentence.
     All men are created equal.

    Show how we relax our pronunciation. We don’t say /What do you want?/
    We say /Whad da ya want?/

    English is a non-tonal language. There are some languages in which a sound expressed
    on a higher tone denotes one word or meaning while expressing it in a lower tone
    means something else. We as Americans make judgments on men who speak in a very
    high, breathy tone. If a man were to come to America from a country with a strong
    tonal language, they might be considered feminine. In pronunciation time you would
    need to teach them how to lower their tone.  You can try to do this by having the
    student listen to you sing Ba, ba, ba, ba going down in tone repeating the lower tone
    several times.

    Volume is also important. If we speak too loud we could be considered pushy or
    obnoxious. Have students who are having trouble with this watch a TV sitcom. This  
    will also help with correct expression.
   #8 helps are from Glenda Reece’s Top Down & Bottom Up Pronunciation Handout

9. With extremely shy students who are reticent to look at your mouth, sit beside the  
    student and hold up a small mirror so that the student can see your mouth as you form  
    the sounds and words.

10. Instead of buying expensive tape sets, make your own. Take the time to record the  
    sounds of all the letters in our alphabet with vocabulary words they will use.

11. Encourage your students to listen to American television sometime during the week.

12. Be sensitive to not correct your students in social situations or when they’re  
      expressing a thought. Write down the problems you hear, then teach those needs  
      during class.

13. When you’ve worked for sometime on a sound or word that a particular student just  
      can’t say and you make no progress, move on for the sake of your other students.  
      During an activity or after class, work one on one with that student.

14. If you want to have a planned pronunciation time in your lesson, but don’t really  
     know your students special pronunciation needs, have a regular time of reading  
     portions of passages from different works of literature while in class. Take notes on  
     what to work on.

15. Don’t spend long periods of time teaching pronunciation. In a 1 1/2 to 2 hour class,  
      5-10 minutes is appropriate for beginners-low intermediates, 15 for more advanced.

16. Keep your speaking speed at a normal rate, you may slow up a little if you’re a fast  
      talker, but not so slow that your words teach incorrect rhythm or patterns.
      150-180 words per minute is normal.

17. Remember that repetition is important. Say the sound at least 3-5x.


Communicative Games and Activities Used in Teaching Citizenship

1. Deuces are Wild – Great review game. For Citizenship, put a question on one card and the answer on another. Use 3x5 cards or torn up pieces of paper. Have enough for each person to have one card. Give out, telling students not to show anyone what their card says. Tell students when you say, “ Go!” they need to say what is on their card over and over not stopping, listening for and finding the other person who has the matching question or answer card. When everyone has found the person with the matching card, have each team say the question together then the answer. You can then have them stay in pairs to practice all the questions and answers from a typed sheet.
2. Draw Pile - Write each question and answer on a 3x5 card, shuffle,
put in a pile, have students take turns drawing and saying the question and answer with everyone in the group repeating.
3. USCIS Draw Pile- Use USCIS cards. Deal everyone an answer card. Put the question cards face down in a pile. When one student draws, have them say the question then have student with the matching answer card say the answer.

4. No Fish- Deal question and answer cards until all have been passed out. Play No Fish without using the deck as in the real game. Each person will take turns saying another person’s name then asking one of the questions or saying one of the answers in their hand.  If that person has the matching answer they say the answer or question and give the person with the question or answer card, their matching card. If they don’t have the match they say ”No Fish” and the next person goes.

5. Table Scramble – Make multiple copies of the USCIS cards so that each student has a set of the ones you’re practicing. Lay the question and answer cards on a cleared table face up and mixed up. When you say the question have students pick up the question card, say it, then pick up the answer card and say it.
6. Line Up or Run the Gauntlet - Have students number off, one-two, have all the one’s face the two’s forming two straight lines. Have the students facing each other practice questions and answers.  After you think they’ve exchanged information with the person across from them, say, “Move!” having the end person on one line walk quickly between all the people to the other end of their line. Everyone on one side will move down one. They’ll then have a new person across from them to exchange information with again. Keep the end person moving till the same people face each other again.

7. Circles - same as line up but have an inside circle face an outside circle, have outside circle move once to the right to keep exchanging information.
8. Spin the Bottle - each student take turns spinning, whoever it lands on asks one question in the lesson for that day, they then spin it and whoever it lands on has to answer. The person who answered then asks a question and spins and the game keeps going.

9. Take a Walk – Give each student a USCIS card. Some will have questions and some answers. Put the questions and answers for the day on large ¼ poster paper cards on the floor. Say one of the questions. The student with that question has to find the large matching question card on the floor, stand beside it and repeat the question. Then the student with the answer has to find the answer card, stand by it and repeat the answer.
10. Draw Your Question and Sit Down/Draw Your Answer and Stand Up- Have students all stand up around the table. Put the USCIS cards in a bag or box and mix them up. Have students draw one. Tell them that the students who drew a question may sit down and the students who drew an answer may keep standing.  Have one on the sitting students ask their question then when the student who has the matching card answers, they may sit down. Go around until all questions have been asked and answered and everyone is sitting.

11. Lipson Time- Have several pictures that can match USCIS questions and answers. A picture of the White House for the question and answer ”What is the official home of the president? The White House.” A picture of the calendar turned to January for “In what month is the president inaugurated? January.” Deal the question and answers written on 5x8 cards. Have students take turns going around the table and placing the question and answer card on top of the picture while saying the question and answer.

12. Beanbag Throw - Teacher says the question being practiced and throws the beanbag to another who has to repeat it.  Go around until all have said the question. Do the same with the answer. For practicing questions and answers, write the questions and answers on the board or have prewritten questions and answers on a handout. Have students take turns asking whichever they want then have them throw the beanbag to another who has to answer then ask a question for the next person they throw the bean bag to.

13. Concentration- Put USCIS cards face down in neat rows, mixed up. Play concentration, matching the questions with the right answers. Student must say question or answer each time.

14. Chain Drill –Break the class into two groups. During introduction of new question and answers have half the class say the question when you point to them and when you point to the other group have them answer. After this, go from person to person. Do this briskly, not slowly. Say the questions and answers with the correct intonation and stress.


Citizenship Curriculum

The amount of curriculum and resources available is extensive. I am only listing the most popular and those I have used. I encourage you to get online or order the Publisher’s Catalogs and look for yourself. There are videos, games and interactive computer programs that are also now available. It’s best to choose one basic textbook and use other resources with it to give your class some variety of learning experiences.

Pearson Education ESL                                                          
(Longman, Prentice Hall Regents,
Scott Foresman ESL, Addison Wesley)
ESL 1-800-862-7778

Voices of Freedom (Basic Text) Student Book - $17.50 Teacher’s Guide - $19.25

New Readers Press
Citizenship Passing the Test
Literacy-Low Beginning

Citizenship Ready for the Interview (Focuses on getting ready for the interview but not the civics aspect)
High Beginning-Intermediate

The Way to U.S. Citizenship

Citizenship Q & A (Audio Tape Series of Interview Questions)

The INS Citizenship Interview: Will They pass? (50-minute video modeling interview process. Great for each ministry to own one.)

Road to Citizenship CD-Rom
High Beginning

Heinle & Heinle  A division of International Thomson Publishing, Inc.

U.S. Citizen    Yes Interactive Citizenship Preparation (Basic Text or Supplement)
This is a great book for games and extra fill in the blank activities, also for homework practice.

Learning Express
Pass The U.S. Citizenship Exam (Test Prep or Supplement)   
By phone
High Beginner-Intermediate
I like this book for the tests, yes/no questions and interview practice.

Clearing Houses for multiple publishers which feature citizenship material are:
Delta Systems Co., Inc.

ALTA ESL Resource Center


Other Resources

History/Government Books
For those of you who want to brush up on your U.S. history or who want to provide an intermediate student with more detailed reading, I suggest history and national government textbooks from two Christian publishing companies, Bob Jones University Press and Abeka. They put out history and government books for home schools and other private schools. You can buy these at any Mardel’s. They have a catalog in the customer service section near the home schoolbooks if you want to look at the grade levels. They usually have them in stock. Getting one around the 6th grade level would be best for intermediate level students. Abeka’s number is 1-877-223-5226 or Both of these publishers present history from a Christian worldview. Joy Hakim has also written a wonderful series called The History of US that is both enjoyable and informative. It is in 11 volumes. They are in most public libraries. Oxford University Press is the Publisher. 1-800-451-7556 Click U.S. when the site comes up.

Small but informative books on historical people and events
The two best publishers and guides for these types of books are:
 Beautiful Feet Books 1-800-889-1978
The Elijah Company 1-888-2-Elijah
They are primarily for those who home school, but meet many needs. Just order the catalogs. Beautiful Feet has the books categorized by time periods. You can read the book summary and check out the book you want from the library instead of ordering it.

Videos are an enjoyable way to teach and gain understanding of a subject. The more you can personalize a person, event or subject the better and longer your student will retain the information. Look for these in your library.

The DAR Citizenship Manual at, is being revised but the old one can still be downloaded. Get this. It is a great tool!

Activities and Games
These are great ways to practice the questions and answers students need to learn in citizenship class so that your students enjoy learning. If you continually practice the material without activities and games, you will have a high drop out rate. There are 61 games in the North American Board’s ESL Manual, Teaching English Language Learners the Good News that can be used to practice citizenship material. Zero Prep and Zero Prep For Beginners is another great resource. It can be ordered from Alta at 1800-ALTA/ESL or or Delta at 1-800-323-8270 or Be sure to practice and review your material by using role-play, debate, interviews, paired practice, cooperative learning, worksheets using fill in the blanks and graphs, crossword puzzles, songs, card games, cartoons, letter writing, journal writing, the Lipson Method, storytelling, describing pictures and small and large group discussion.
Maps, Atlases, Travel Picture Books and Videos Depicting Our Country’s Scenery and Landmarks
These are a must when teaching students about our nation. Map puzzles are a fun and helpful way to see the layout of the states.

Field Trips
Take students and their families to historical sites and museums as a way to bring history alive and give lasting memories.

This is another way to help your students remember facts. Painting a flag in watercolor will guarantee that your students remember how many stripes there are and what color they are painted, as well as how many stars representing states, are on the blue background. While you paint you can talk about the flag’s history and meaning even practice the questions associated with the flag.

Reading or hearing about great Americans are one of the best ways to teach historical facts and to give understanding of the importance of making wise decisions. The small young adult books of Jean Fritz are great in giving a lot of information and understanding in just a few pages. The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, is a great resource for teachers to read before teaching a citizenship class. Advanced students could also read it for a new perspective on American History as led by the hand of God.

Songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” are best learned by singing.

Reading poems is also a wonderful way to teach history and good citizenship. “The midnight ride of Paul Revere” can be used with intermediate and advanced citizenship students to teach the importance of sacrifice for one’s country. Paul Revere had a family that depended on him yet he was willing to risk his life for his country. This poem also shows the importance of warnings and signs that need to be heeded.

The Public Library
Wow what a resource! Teach your students to enjoy it and know how to use it. This should be one of your first field trips.

Homework/Independent Study
Give your students work, which is doable, like having them practice their civics questions 5 times during the week with someone at their home. Have them practice their questions with a fill in the blank worksheet. Ask them to write a paragraph about a good citizen or topic that is covered on the civics questions. This will really help them remember.


Anchor 1
Anchor 2
Anchor 3
Anchor 4
Anchor 5
Anchor 6
Anchor 7
Anchor 8
Anchor 9
Anchor 10
Anchor 11
Anchor 12
Anchor 13
Anchor 14
Anchor 15
Anchor 16
Anchor 17
Anchor 18
Anchor 19
bottom of page