Brazil’s Trump? – a conversation lesson

Last week I wrote in a comment on BrELT that religion is a topic I”m afraid to talk about in English lessons. Politics is, on the other hand, fair game.

Two weeks ago Brazilians voted to elect their new mayors and there was one candidate in particular that proved to be very controversial, at least according to my Facebook timeline. After João Doria’s win in São Paulo, I came across a couple of articles in English comparing him to Donald Trump and thought that could lead to an interesting discussion with my students.

This lesson is aimed at adult students who are B2, although you can use it with B1 students as well with some pre-teaching of vocabulary for the text.

Start the lesson by showing students these photos.


Ask students the following questions:

  • Who are the men in the pictures?
  • What do you think they may have in common?

Give students some time to brainstorm ideas and then elicit answers from the whole group. Board their ideas and save them to be used as a gist task.

Tell students they are going to read a text comparing Doria and Trump. Give them 45 seconds to read the text quickly and see if any of the ideas they came up with during the lead-in actually appear in the text.

For this lesson, I mixed two articles to include all the information I wanted. You can find the originals here and here. The final text below.


After the 45 seconds, get students to compare answers. Go back to the board and check the ideas.

Give them more time now to read the text fully and answer these questions:

  1. How did corruption scandals influence the elections?
  2. How have voters justified voting for Doria?
  3. Why did he receive the nickname of ‘Richie Rich’?
  4. Does Doria have full support from his political party?

Let students compare answers and then check with the whole group.

Now, show students one of the videos below about Donal Trump. Both videos have closed captions, but the first one is easier, so I’d use John Oliver with B1 students and Stephen Colbert with B2+ students. Make sure you show students the task before playing either video.

B1 video

  • What is the presenter’s opinion of Donald Trump? What makes you say that?


B2+ Video (up to 2:55)

  • What is the presenter’s opinion of Donald Trump? What makes you say that?

Get students to compare answers in pairs and then elicit their opinions. Now, in small groups, ask students to discuss this follow-up question:

  • After watching the videos, do you think the comparison between Donal Trump and João Doria is fair? Why?
  • Why do you think these types of candidates have become so popular?
  • What other Brazilian politicians would you compare Trump to? (Suggested by Fernanda Machado.)

Collect opinions after a few minutes. To spice things up and play devil’s advocate and disagree with whichever side students take.

Alternatively, you could go back to the text and explore the vocabulary that appears in bold.

a knack for

to bear the brunt of

a spoof


a hallmark of


Either give students definitions for them to match or ask them to guess the meaning of the words/expressions in pairs (which works better with higher levels). Either way, concept check the expressions before moving on to practice exercises. Remind students that the consonant sound in ‘of’ is /v/ and work with catenation in ‘brunt of’ and ‘hallmark of’.

For some contextualized practice, you could get students to discuss the questions below.

  • What kinds fo things do you have a knack for?
  • Have you ever watched spoof ads on youtube? Do you think they are funny?
  • What are the hallmarks of your city?
  • Do you think corruption in Brazil has reached unprecedented levels?
  • Do you think the amount of information available on the internet is overwhelming?
  • Is the company where you work still feeling the brunt of the economic crisis?

Finally, ask students to choose one or two of the expressions and create their own discussion questions to ask each other.

Thanks for reading


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