Posted 29/10/12

From Wikipedia: “Uncle Sam (initials U.S.) is a common national personification of the American government that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson.” In the last few years, the original poster has become a bit of a meme. Instead of enlisting recruits for the US Army, Uncle Sam says, “I want you to tidy your room!” or “I want you to give up smoking!” Recently, I used this online poster generator to try to remind some naughty teens about the class rules that we had set up the week before. It worked (for a day).
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Activity: Translation
  • Topic: Rules
  • Language: Want you to do something; First conditional
  • Materials: Slideshow of images
Uncle Sam pdf [downloaded 3520 times]


Use one of the following poster generators to make a personalised slideshow of classroom rules posters. Good structures include ‘Want you to do something‘ and first conditionals (see examples below). Also include the original Uncle Sam poster in the slide show.

Lesson plan outline

  1. Show students the original Uncle Sam poster. Ask them if they know who the man is and what he represents (see Wikipedia for details).
  2. Tell students that you have some more similar images for them. One by one, show the images in the slideshow and in each case, ask students to translate the message into their own language(s). Let students with the same mother tongue work together for this purpose.
  3. In the absence of the images, ask students to translate their texts back into English.
  4. Allow students to compare what they have written.
  5. Show the slideshow a second time and allow students to correct their translations.


This activity is known as an L2-L1-L2 translation.

Posted 29/10/12

4 Responses to Uncle Sam

  1. Michael Keag says:

    L2-L1-L2 translation is something my students love. It is a big challege translating Thai into English.

    When is the video telling book out, Jamie?

    Mike in Phuket

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Mike
    Glad they enjoy it.
    The book will be out in Spring 2012. Working away on it right now, in fact. Hope all is well in Phuket.
    Jamie :)

  3. Michael Keag says:

    All is tickity boo in Phuket. Let me know when the book is finished as I wish to purchase a copy. If you are ever on the island, let me know and we can grab a cocktail.


  4. bayan bader says:

    thank you . it is useful