Published: April 24, 2022
Paraisopolis, a favela in Sao Paulo, next to its wealthy neighbor Morumbi

Authors: Kim Gramse, Ever Gray, Jenny Hopkins, and Alia Viscardi
Nominator: Rai Farrelly
Course: LING 4620 Teaching L2 Oral Skills and Communication, Fall 2021
LURA 2022 

The Wealth Gap is an economic term used to describe the gap in wealth between the rich and poor on a global scale. The increase of this gap is cause for concern, which we hoped to address in this curriculum design assignment via three ninety minute units. 

As part of our Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification program, we were tasked with creating three fully interconnected units based around a social justice topic that any teacher of English as an additional language (EAL) could implement in their own classroom. We chose to focus on the wealth gap because of the various contributing factors to this gap, such as housing and education, that we wanted students to be able to explore in an educational setting. 

In our first lesson, we introduce the concept of the wealth gap and the ideas of upper, middle, and lower class designations. Through classroom activities built to foster listening and speaking skills in the English language, we guide the students towards an understanding of some contributing factors to this issue on a global scale. Once we have solidly established these foundational concepts, the students should be well prepared to move on to the next lesson. 

In the second lesson, we focused specifically on educational inequality and the factors that contribute to it. We developed more content-based ESL activities that could also allow for variety in the classroom, including both physical movement and personal involvement. This lesson ends with a wrap-up activity that gives students an opportunity to discuss their own experiences with educational inequality and further explore their own opinions around the subject.

The final lesson focuses on housing inequality, specifically in a US context. The first activity in this lesson was pronunciation Jenga, which acts as a low-stress introduction to the beginning of class but also allows students to practice their pronunciation of difficult words with their peers. The end of this lesson culminates with the opportunity for students to share the video projects they were assigned at the start of the unit with the goal of developing their own research skills and raising their awareness of factors that contribute to the wealth gap. This video project also helps students broaden their understanding of the wealth gap as it provides an opportunity for other factors not addressed in the unit to be taught by students to their peers.

All three lessons can be found on our class's website of Teaching L2 Oral Skills:

As a whole, we hope this unit provides students with multiple and well-rounded opportunities to improve their English oral language skills of speaking, listening, and pronunciation through a focus on content that is reflected in their lives. We also hope that, as a content-based curricular unit, teachers can find use for it in their own classrooms in the future.

We approached the work for this project as an equal collaboration. We spent a lot of time discussing and brainstorming ideas, but we also each took the lead designing certain activities within the units. As a class, each group delivered three separate activities to our peers, which our group greatly appreciated as an opportunity to not only practice our teaching skills but also to test and refine our lesson plans before making them publicly available. Now that each of us has begun our student teaching experience, we’ve found ourselves implementing the insight and skills we’ve gained through the course of this project into our real-life classrooms.

Header image credit: Vieira, T. (2004). Paraisopolis, a favela in Sao Paulo, next to its wealthy neighbor Morumbi [Image]. Retrieved from