Amazing Grace Defies Racism
ESL Lesson Plan
Unit Theme: Amazing Grace
National ESL Standards K-12:
Goal 1, Standard 2
To use English to communicate in social settings: Students will interact in,
through, and with spoken and written English for personal expression and
Goal 3, Standard 1
To use English in socially and culturally appropriate ways: Students will use the
appropriate language variety, register and genre according to audience, purpose
Students will analyze the concepts of sexism and racism.
Students will be able to apply persuasive speech acts and modal verbs with
persuasive meaning, such as: You should, You have to, Why don't you..? Just do
it!, You can do it! etc.
Students will use target language items related to the themes of theater and
acting (e.g., to act, audition, play, part) as well as lexical items related to the
theme of perseverance (e.g., try hard, persevere, do ones' best).
Students will write letters in accordance with the conventions of letter writing .
Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief and Rosemary Wells
or any other books about famous African Americans (e.g., Jackie Robinson,
Ruby Bridges) who were able to overcome the odds of racism or sexism;
Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Birch; Dear ESL Class, letter
from Grace (attached); Words People Use to Persuade scaffold (attached).
Teacher asks students about their personal experiences of overcoming some
difficulties (e.g., Have you ever done something you thought you couldn't do?)
Teacher asks students if they ever have been treated unfairly by their peers
(e.g., Have you ever been treated unfairly by your friends? How did it make
Students respond to the following critical thinking questions:
Do you think men and women can do all things equally well?
What are some examples of different races of people?
What are the ways in which people of different races are alike?
The class reads a book which portrays the life story of an individual who
persevered and prevailed in spite of racism and sexism (e.g., Tallchief:
America's Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief and Rosemary Wells).
Students discuss the book, pointing to factors which help individuals triumph
over adversity (e.g., perseverance, hard work).
The story Amazing Grace is read to the class. The teacher stops reading the
story half way (!) at the point when Grace is confronted with her problem.
The teacher reads the Dear ESL Class letter from Grace (attached) and asks
students to say what - in their opinion -- Grace should do.
The teacher leads the discussion of Grace’s dilemma encouraging students to
make a connection between Grace's problem and the problems experienced
by gender and cultural minorities in American society.
The teacher gives directions to students to write back to Grace. Students are
reminded to discuss in their letters the incidents with which they are familiar
where individuals overcame the odds of sexism and/or racism. In their writing,
students use the Words People Use to Persuade scaffold (attached).
The teacher finishes reading Amazing Grace to the class. Students discuss
whether Grace "took heed" of their advice.
Words People Use to Persuade
Use these words when you write your letter to Grace.
by all means
don't even hesitate
be sure to
you can do it
456 Theatre Street
Hollywood, CA 12345
Dear ESL Class:
My name is Grace. I am in third grade.
I have a problem and I need your advice.
Today, I found my class will be performing the
play Peter Pan. I want to play the main role,
because I love to act. One classmate told me I
shouldn't audition, because I am a girl. Another
told me I shouldn't audition, because I am
black. What do you think I should do? Please
give me your honest opinion.