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Guns in America, An ESL Lesson plan for culture classes

Updated on January 24, 2013

Culture Class

I wrote this lesson because the school I work at wanted to make their culture classes more current. To this end we outlined specific subjects which we divided between us. I was given the topic of guns in America because I had the most experience with guns.

This lesson plan is not conclusive. It does not go into different variety of guns or what is the difference between riffles, shotguns and handguns. The students might ask about these things and if they do you can go into those topics. However the primary objective of a class like this is to get the students talking in English. The subjects not addressed in this lesson plan I intend to address in another.

In my original version of this lesson I included a question about the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. I've removed that question because if bogs down the discussion. I have found with my students that politics is a topic that only a few are interested because it is a complicated subject. I find that subjects that are overly complicated tend to confuse most of the students too much. If they are confused that aren't talking. And if they aren't talking then they aren't learning.

The subject of guns is one that students have been actively interested in and is one that they will talk about. Because of this you should be prepared to answer questions. It may be a good idea to check the news before going into class so that you are aware of any gun related news in the U.S. In my experience many of the upper level students regularly read news related to the U.S. A few times in the past some of my students have caught me off guard with things that had recently happened that I hadn't yet heard about. Because of this I now scan the news every morning just in case.

Along with the quiz I've also provided an answer key. When I taught this class the first time I kept the answer key as a reference. I've toyed with the idea of giving the answer key to the students but I think it is better if the students try to answer the questions using their own words instead of relying on words that are provided to them.

Guns Lesson Plan

  1. Ask Students what they know about guns in America or if they’ve heard about any recent gun related news in America (ex: The Trayvon Martin Shooting 2-26-2012). (10 minutes)

  2. Distribute Gun Quiz Handout. Have the students work in pairs to answer the questions on the quiz. During this time you should walk around the class and answer any of the questions the students might have. Some of the vocabulary will likely be new to them and you may have to explain the words as best you can. (15 minutes)

  3. Go over the quiz as a class asking some of the students to answer question in turn. It is fine if they don’t know the answer but try to make them guess and give a reason for their choice. The answers can also lead to further discussion, especially among the stronger students while the task of reading the questions can be given to some of the students who are more timid. (15’)

Answer Key for the Quiz

  1. B. Swimming pools. Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and Co-Author of the book Freakonomics, Steven Levitt used statistical analysis to show that more children die each year for accidents related to swimming pools that due to gun related accidents. His hypothesis is on why is that people naturally think of guns as dangerous and because of this are more likely to take extra precautions to keep them out of the hands of their children while at the same time our familiarity with swimming pools as something that is a fun part of every day life leads us to be less mindful of the potential dangers of drowning.

  2. C. Most websites related to gun safety, especially sites devoted to educating children list this among their rules. In addition to safety issues, a gun in a public place might have been discarded after being used in a crime and touching the gun would leave your fingerprints on the weapon.

  3. B. Obviously this is false but some people might believe it.

  4. C. Certain laws such as hunting regulations as well as “conceal carry” permits are issued by individual states. In some instances permits are good in more than one state. For example a conceal carry permit obtained in Louisiana is also good in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. That same permit however does not grant you the right to carry a concealed weapon in any other state. A hunting license is only good within the state that it is issued.

  5. C. Unless Lady Gaga is your mother-in-law and you want to kill her. This is one of the four rules of gun safety listed every gun expert. If you do not intend to destroy something do not aim the gun in that direction. Always keep a weapon aimed in a safe direction until and your finger off the trigger you are ready to shoot.

  6. C. Many gun safety experts also suggest that you keep ammunition stored in a separate place from the firearms. The idea is that this helps to prevent accidental shootings among children. Some also suggest the use of a trigger lock during storage. Other experts however believe that if there is a home invasion the time that it takes to go between two separate locations in order to be well armed and remove a trigger lock is too much and you could be dead before your gun is even loaded, rendering the fact that you own the gun for home protection to be pointless. This could lead to some interesting discussion.

  7. D… Obviously. Okay so only A and B are truly legitimate answers, until a Zombie apocalypse actually happens that is and then all bets are off. You are probably going to have to explain both the words zombie and apocalypse. Some of the students may already know the meaning of zombie but probably none will know what apocalypse means.

  8. C. If you own a gun legally and someone breaks into your house and attacks you it is legal to shoot them. There would be a police investigation but in the end you would be fine.

  9. You need a legal document called a permit to be able to carry a gun in public. The laws in every state are similar but still different. In some states you can not get a permit for this while in others you can. There are also some states where you can get a permit but only if you can prove that you need to carry a weapon for your job.

Handout: Guns Survey

  1. More accidental deaths happen each year because of:

    1. Guns

    2. Swimming pools

    3. Wives asking their husbands if they look fat.

  2. If you find a gun in a public place you should:

    1. Throw it in the trash.

    2. Play with it because guns are fun!

    3. Don’t touch it but call the police and report the gun’s location.

  3. Ever American owns a gun:

    1. True

    2. False

  4. Gun laws in America:

    1. Do not exist.

    2. Are the same everywhere.

    3. Are different depending on the state but are usually very similar.

  5. When you’re holding a gun, it should be aimed:

    1. At your mother-in-law

    2. At Lady Gaga

    3. Only at a target your intend to kill or at the ground

  6. When not being used a gun should be stored

    1. In the refrigerator

    2. On the coffee table where anyone can play with it.

    3. Unloaded and in a high place out of the reach of children or in a gun safe.

  7. Guns can be used

    1. For hunting

    2. For home protection

    3. For the inevitable zombie apocalypse

    4. All of the above

  8. If a person breaks into my house in the middle of the night and I shoot and kill them with a gun that I legally own:

    1. I will go to jail for the rest of my life.

    2. I will be forced to listen to Justin Beiber sing Oh Baby 24 hours a day for a month

    3. There will be an investigation but in the end I'll be fine.

  9. If I own a handgun can I carry it on me in public?

    1. Yes, that is perfectly fine.

    2. No, that is illegal.

    3. I could if I had a permit but not in every state.

Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2012. Wesley Meacham- This article is copyright protected and is the property of Wesley Meacham. All images in this article, unless otherwise stated, are the property of Wesley Meacham. Please do not copy this article in whole or in part without giving credit to the original author.


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    • Wesley Meacham profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesley Meacham 

      7 years ago from Wuhan, China

      Hank I know what you mean about there not being a textbook. There actually were pre-written lessons for our culture classes but they were all very old and more importantly, very boring for both the teachers and the students. I've used some classes that I've found online when I didn't have anything else to go with, so I hope that this lesson (if you use it) works well for you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      cheers for getting back to me. i've run a bit short of ideas for my class and it might even be fair to say that i'm desperate for material. anyway, i'm surprised there isn't a textbook out there that deals specifically with american culture. i know it's a diverse place, but i so many of my students here (in south korea) are interested in this topic that i'm sure they would pay for a book.

      thanks again for your work

    • Wesley Meacham profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesley Meacham 

      7 years ago from Wuhan, China

      Hank, thanks for the comment. I'm not sure that I understand your question. In this class I have no co-teacher. There is only one class each month in which I have a co-teacher and those classes are usually a bit strange. I don't think that I would publish any of those here. As far as lessons written by other coworkers unless I changed a lot of it I wouldn't publish that either. None of my coworkers were involved in this lesson. If they want to publish their own stuff they are welcome to. Actually... I'd like to see that.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      this is great for my american culuture class, thanks! but where are the rest of the lessons that your coworkers made?

    • Wesley Meacham profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesley Meacham 

      8 years ago from Wuhan, China

      A few years before I came to China I did take a Chinese friend to a shooting range. She had a lot of fun there. This is the kind of thing that I would naturally do. But at the moment I'm actually in China so there are no local gun shops where I am...

    • Jack Burton profile image

      Jack Burton 

      8 years ago from The Midwest

      Wes, there are a lot of us in the firearms community who delight in taking immigrants to the range to show them how to safely use a firearm. If it is something of interest to you I encourage you to reach out to the folk (post a note at the local gun shop asking for people to familiarize immigrants with guns) and I promise you you'll have many takers.

    • Wesley Meacham profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesley Meacham 

      8 years ago from Wuhan, China

      Thanks Jack. Most of my students will never see a gun but it is a subject they're very interested in.

    • Jack Burton profile image

      Jack Burton 

      8 years ago from The Midwest

      Wes, if you look around my hubs you'll find a very comprehensive study guide for gun safety under many different conditions. You are always welcome to use as much of it as you feel would be helpful.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      8 years ago from Winter Haven, FL

      Excellent hub. Again, you have a unique way of putting things. I personally, have never even held a gun, so I know little about this topic. Nonetheless, like most people I hear news about guns all of the times. Your students are lucky to have a teacher like you that exposes them to the different colors of the rainbow.

      Voted interesting


    • Wesley Meacham profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesley Meacham 

      8 years ago from Wuhan, China

      That question is probably the one that is the most fun in the class. I included it because I had recently read "Freakonomics" and I personally thought it was interesting. Thank you for your comment.

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      8 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Excellent hub! I appreciate your citing "Freakonomics" because I really found that book enlightening. As an engineering student I studied a lot of statistics and it always aggravates me to see how average Americans have no ability to process statistics, question statistics or realistically assess risks.


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