Amnesty: More Than a Word

Lesson Duration

Author:  Emi Kolawole, Annenberg Classroom

Ever yelled “fire!” in a really crowded theater? Don’t. It’ll probably get you arrested. Because language can inspire emotions (panic!) in addition to conveying information (the building is on fire), we have to be careful not to let words do our thinking for us. This lesson will teach students to identify when emotive terms, in this case “amnesty,” alter their perceptions and obscure the facts. Students will examine two advertisements, both of which claimed a 2007 immigration reform bill would provide “amnesty” to illegal immigrants. Students will also analyze polling data that show how the word “amnesty” affected public perceptions.


  • Assess how the use of emotive terms like “amnesty” can influence a person’s thinking.
  • Practice neutralizing expressive language in groups and independently.
  • Research a bill and check the accuracy of advertising claims.
  • Write their own, accurate advertisement for or against the Senate immigration bill.


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