In the Government Meeting ESL activity, students have to decide how to spend their country’s budget surplus.
Divide the class into small groups of two or three students. There should be around four to eight groups.
- Set the scene by telling the students they are all members of the government (of the country they are currently in). The country has a $200 million budget surplus and they must decide what to spend it on. However, the surplus can only be split between two government departments.
- Each group acts as representatives from a different government department. Elicit some departments (e.g. defence, health, transport and infrastructure, science and technology, entertainment and media, agriculture, education, energy etc.) and assign them to the groups.
- The groups prepare a short proposal speech outlining how their department would spend the money. Using the target language, they argue why their department should be a priority. They should use real problems they think the country has and potential solutions.
- The groups take turns presenting their proposals. After each one, allow other students to ask questions. You may also want to have a short debate (especially with higher intermediate and advanced students).
- At the end, ask the students to vote for their first and second choices. Students cannot vote for their own department. The two departments with the most votes are the winners of the funding.
The Government Meeting ESL activity is a must for any class studying/interested in politics. It works really well with students who enjoy giving their opinion and debating. You can use it at both intermediate and advanced levels.
You can also use the proposal as a way to practise modal verbs of obligation, or the first conditional. For modal verbs, students should focus on using them to be persuasive, and highlighting need (e.g. We have to take action now…, We mustn’t ignore…).
For the first conditional, students should talk about the positive/negative consequences of investment/lack of investment. For example, If we invest in our infrastructure more countries will trade with us, or If we don’t switch to renewable energy our people will have health problems.
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