Although there are no federal standardized requirements to teach U.S. citizenship classes, teachers should have the skills to teach both the civics and literacy subject areas covered by the naturalization exam. In addition, teachers should have the necessary skills to teach speakers whose English is a second language. Despite the lack of standardized requirements to teach U.S. citizenship classes, many resources and course are available to prepare teachers.
The civics portion of citizenship classes covers civics, geography, government and history subjects. Teachers must prepare students for the written and oral portion of the naturalization exam. Some teachers use a general curriculum that covers these subjects in a way that prepares students to be knowledgeable and active citizens, while other teachers focus on the questions they know will be asked on the written civics exam. The first approach prepares students best for the oral interview and their future lives as citizens, while the second approach prepares students for the written exam. Therefore, teachers should be skilled in both approaches to give their students the best possible class.
Teachers should either be skilled in teaching speakers of English as a second language with variable English skills, or partner with another teacher who is. Many students will have little English, while others have none. TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), ESL (English as a second language) and EFL (English as a foreign language) coursework and certification is good preparation for teaching U.S. citizenship classes. Some classes are taught bilingually, so skill with a second language can be helpful. Teachers must also prepare students for the literacy portions of the naturalization exam, where they must demonstrate the ability to speak, read and write English. Most citizenship courses combine the literacy and civics elements of the naturalization test into one course. Most classes include practice reading aloud, writing, vocabulary development and role-playing the naturalization interview process.
In addition to preparing students for the U.S. citizenship test, teachers should be familiar with the naturalization process. They will need to be able to explain how to become a citizen and the benefits of becoming a citizen. They refer students to appropriate attorneys for legal advice, as well as be familiar with other community programs that will help guide and prepare their students.
Many resources are available to equip teachers with the skills and materials necessary to prepare and deliver a successful citizenship class. Free online classes are offered to teachers by elcivicsonline.org and literacynetwork.Verizon.org. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website offers flash cards, links, study sheets and many other materials to help prepare teachers to teach U.S. citizenship classes.
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