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Focus question 2: What is a parliament?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Let's parler! (45 min) ESL Activity 1

Activity 1: Let's parler! (45 min)

Handout 2 1a Display Handout 2 and review the structure of society. Explain:

After Magna Carta, whenever the monarch and barons met, such a meeting was called the Great Council. Around 1258 in England people started to describe these Great Councils as a 'parliament'.

1b Discuss the meaning of the term. Write 'parler = to speak' and 'parliament = a place for debate and discussion' on the board. The word 'parliament' comes via the French word 'parler', from the Latin meaning 'to speak'.
Handout 6,7

1c Ask students what they know of parliaments. Discussion should include:

  • Britain still has a parliament and Australia has a Commonwealth parliament, as well as individual state and territory parliaments.
  • When parliament meets it is said to be 'sitting'. Each Member of Parliament is said to have 'a seat'.
  • Long ago it was the monarch who controlled parliament. Parliament only sat when the monarch called it. Only very wealthy men were invited to come to the monarch's parliament.

Copies of Handout 7 will be reused later in the unit.

1d Distribute Handout 6 and discuss the information on early parliaments. Discuss the absence of freemen or serfs in this system. Note the absence of women from the system. Women were not included in parliament until the early twentieth century.

1e Distribute Handout 7 and compare how laws are made before and after the creation of the modern system.

The members of Australia's upper house (called the 'Senate' not the 'House of Lords') are elected by voters.
The modern British Parliament still has a House of Lords and a House of Commons. The nobles who sit in the House of Lords still either inherit their seat or are invited, by the monarch, to hold a seat. But the monarch no longer controls when Parliament sits or who sits in the House of Commons. The Parliament meets regularly. British citizens who have the right to vote decide who is to have a seat in the House of Commons.

ESL activities

Back to 'Parliament versus Monarch - At a glance'

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