National identity cards

Theme: Identity cards - possible introduction of identity cards in the UK
Lexical area: Personal details / language for presenting a fo/against argument
Cross curricular links: Social studies

Instructions for language assistants in Italics

Classroom materials

This lesson looks at national identity cards. ID cards were first proposed by the Labour government in 2006. By 2010 some cards had been issued on a optional basis, mainly to foreign nationals.The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has confirmed that it will not continue with the ID cards scheme. The ID cards that have been issued remain valid and can be used for travel within Europe but this rule may be changed at some point by the new government. (This may well surprise many of your students. Be ready to answer questions about how it works in the UK when you are asked for identification from police, or simply to get into a disco or to buy a drink in a pub.) Use real examples from your own personal experience.

1. Looking at Identity Cards
If your students have national identity cards, ask them to get them out and have a look at them. Ask students to look at the table in task one and to tick the information that they have on their identity card. If students don't have an identity card, ask them to think about the sort of information that is normally included on an ID card or on a passport and tick the information they think should appear. Bring in your own passport to clearly show the information on it.

Task 1 Looking at Identity Cards
Look at the information in the box and tick the ones that appear on your own ID card or passport. 

First name Surname  Your photo  Your signature
Place of birth Date of birth  Occupation  Phone number
 Personal identity number  Issue Date  Marital status  A fingerprint
 Sex  Parents' names  Parents' occupations  Address

If you have an ID card, is there any other information on your ID card that isn't included in the table?

  • Do you think any other information should be included on an ID card?
  • Are ID cards in your country compulsory or optional?

2. Pronunciation Focus
As a native speaker of English you can offer a lot to your students in the way of ‘real' pronunciation. This activity concentrates on two vowel sounds; the sound in the middle of train, or how you say the first letter of the alphabet, A, as in ABC....; and the most common sound in English, as in at the end of computer, or in the phrase ‘it's a sin'. Always be true to the way you pronounce words and be faithful to your regional accent when demonstrating to your class! Don't get involved in spelling patterns. Just deal with the SOUNDS here.

Task 2  Pronunciation Focus
Put these twelve words into the correct column depending on the vowel sound which is underlined. 

  • Date
  • Brothers
  • Occupation
  • Status
  • Signature
  • Fingerprint
  • Name
  • Address
  • Place
  • Date of birth
  • Surname
  • Sister
  • Compare your opinions with the other groups.


Train = date, place, status, occupation, name, surname

Computer = fingerprint, signature, date of birth, address, brothers, sisters

3. ID card - find somebody who
This activity is to find out about how your class feel about having ID cards. Before the students start the mingle activity it is a good idea to check they know how to form the questions. Go through the actual questions they'll need to ask as a group and get the students to practice saying them as a group. For example, the first question will be: Do you have a national ID card?" The second question will be: have you ever lost your ID card or your passport?"

To get students to do the mingle, ask them all to stand up and encourage them to speak to as many different people as possible. You can take part in this activity too! When everyone has gathered some information, students can share their findings with the class.

Task 3 . ID card - find somebody who
Speak to the other students in the class and find somebody who confirms the following. When they confirm it, ask an additional question to get more information from them.

Eg. "Have you ever lost your ID card?"

"Yes I have."

"How did you lose it?" (Question for extra information)

"My bag was stolen on a train last year."

  • Compare your opinions with the other groups.

Find somebody who...

Name Extra information
... has lost their ID card or passport    
 ... thinks ID cards aren't necessary    
... has had to show their ID card to someone this week.    
 ... has had to show their ID card to someone this week.    
 ... likes their photo on their ID card or passport    
 ... hates their photo on their ID card or passport    


4. ID cards in the UK - 2 case studies
Students read two texts of different view points of young people in Britain. One is very much for the introduction of a national ID card and the second one is against. There are very strong feelings amongst UK residents about this topic. Feel free to share your own views with your class or the views of your friends and family.

Task 4. ID cards in the UK - 2 case studies
Read the case studies of two young people in the UK and answer the questions.


Rachel's View

I think it's crazy that we don't have ID cards in Britain! I've studied in France and Spain and none of my friends there could believe we don't have any official form of identification. I don't even have a photo on my driving license! I've always looked young for my age, so have always had trouble getting served in pubs and getting into night-clubs. No one used to believe I was eighteen! I could show them my driving license that had my date of birth on; but as it didn't have a photo everyone thought it was someone else's. I used to have to carry my passport with me to prove I was over eighteen. Now I'm a bit older I don't have so many problems but it would be easier for everyone if we had ID cards. Apart from being useful for proving who you are for everyday things, like joining video clubs or health centre, I think they will also help to reduce the crime levels in this country. I’m disappointed that the government aren’t going to introduce them. They seemed to talk about it a lot before, especially after all the terrorist attacks, so I hope they change their minds...."



Nick's View

I hate the thought of having to carry an ID card and I totally agree with the new government’s plans to scrap this idea. How can a government force us to carry one at all times? We should be free to go where we want, when we want and do what we want without having to prove who we are. They should trust us to respect the laws and the rules of the country. It's an invasion of our personal privacy forcing us to have an identity card. They put photos on the new European driving licenses now so why do we need an ID card? The supporters forget to tell you that only some of the European countries have compulsory identity cards. If big countries like the USA and Australia don't need them, why do we? It would cost a lot of money; that we, the taxpayers, would have to pay for. It scares me a bit that Big Brother wants to watch us so carefully. A little bit too carefully for my liking!"




  • Who do you agree with more?
  • Do you think Rachel has a point about reducing crime rates?
  • What do you think about what Nick says about ‘Big Brother'?

5. Role Play
This activity is an extension of the reading, for higher levels. To prepare for the role play and get maximum ‘talking time' for the students, divide the group into two groups. Half the class are to take the role of Rachel and the other half of the class are to take the role of Nick. In the two groups the students should brainstorm some ideas together to get into the roles. When they have done this, give all the ‘Rachels' a number and all the ‘Nicks' a number (from one to however many in the group.) Then pair up the numbers so both the number ones work together (a Rachel group ‘one' and a Nick group ‘one', both the number twos together etc. Then in pairs they can have the discussion. You can monitor and provide support and extra language input. If the class are willing, some of the pairs can then do their role play in front of the group. Use the language provided in the speech bubbles as a starting point and provide more phrases and words, as and when requested. Before they start, check the students understand the phrases and you could have some fun with them using exaggerated intonation. If you are happy with it, you could get the class to repeat the phrases copying your intonation pattern and tone of voice!

Task 5. Role Play
You are now going to take the role of Rachel or Nick and discuss your views on introducing ID cards to the UK. Before you start,your teacher will give you some phrases to study.

6. Famous Identity Card - Information Gap
Divide the class into pairs and give one student card A and the other half card B. The As must ask the Bs questions to get the missing information and vice versa. Make it clear that they must NOT look at each other's cards and they should make sure all the information is spelt correctly. When they have collected all the information, ask the student which famous pop star owns this identity card. Answer: Madonna (Address is invented but it is her original name and correct date and place of birth!)

Task 6. Famous Identity Card - Information Gap
Work in pairs. One of you is A and the other B. Fold the paper so you can only see your half of the ID card. Ask your partner questions to complete the information on the card.

Student A

Identity Card

Name: Louise Veronica


Address: 1 Acorn Avenue, Knightsbridge, London.

Date of Birth:

Place of Birth: Michigan, USA


ID number: 8255 - 647999 - Y



Student B

Identity Card


Surname: Ciccone


Date of Birth: 16/ 08/ 1958

Place of Birth:

Sex: Female

ID number:

Validity: until end May 15

Internet links

Read a newspaper story about plans to abandon ID cards in Britain in 2010:

Read a newspaper article about voluntary ID cards here:

Look at the British Governments ID card website:

This site (which focuses on the 2010 general election) features British peoples opinions on ID cards: http://www.general-election-2010.co.uk/compulsory-id-cards-good-or-bad-for-britain-poll.html

By Jo Budden and Sally Trowbridge

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babelia-formacion's picture

Some great ideas here! So many things covered and good ideas to very easily get everybody involved and its a topic to which everybody can relate.