The South stretches from Virginia to Texas and includes major cities like Atlanta (Georgia), New Orleans (Louisiana) and Houston (Texas).
Pre-reading questions and activities:
Match these states Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Georgia with their official state name.
- The Sunshine State
- The Pelican State
- The Peach State
- The Lone-Star State
Which city in Florida houses Disney World? Ask if anyone in your class has visited Florida. Perhaps they have been to the Florida Keys, Miami or even the west coast. Did you know that Florida is a peninsula? Which two bodies of water surround Florida?
The first European settlers in this area settled on small, family-run farms. Gradually, some of these farms prospered and became large tobacco and cotton plantations relying on slave labor. The issue of slavery was one of the causes of the Civil War, which the Confederates of the South fought and lost against the Yankees of the North. In the 20th century, especially in the ’50s and ’60s, the region was the center of the struggle for civil rights for black Americans.
Compared to the rest of the US, today’s southerners are more conservative as far as family and tradition are concerned, and they have a more relaxed lifestyle. Money is supposedly less important here than in other parts of the country, as they have not adopted the strict work ethic of the Northeast. Southerners are said to be open and hospitable. The plantations are now gone, and cotton is no longer the main source of income.
The South has changed dramatically over the last two decades. Developing industries include service/tourism, high technology, finance and communications. The region is often referred to as the “sun-belt” of the US, both because of the sunny and warm climate and the recent economic boost. The summers can be very hot, so Florida and Georgia have become immensely popular holiday and retirement resorts. Parts of the region have a colorful cultural life, such as New Orleans, known for its old French architecture, Cajun cooking, jazz and blues music, and its celebrations of Mardi Gras. New Orleans has slowly recovered from the devastating hurricane in 2005, Katrina, known as the largest natural disaster to occur in the US, which left thousands homeless.
Tasks and Activities
Sit in pairs and take turns explaining the following expressions. Try to include them in a sentence as well.
- the Mardi Gras
- European settlers
- relying on slave labor
- the Yankees
- civil rights for black Americans
- economic boost
- retirement resorts
- Cajun cooking
- devastating hurricane
Choose one of the major cities: Atlanta (Georgia), New Orleans (Louisiana) or Houston (Texas) and make a PowerPoint presentation for the class. Points of interest: tourism, culture, arts/music, sports, historic events, demographics.