Learn English – an 18th-century American woman – Betsy Ross

Last week America celebrated another Independence Day, hearkening back to July 4th, 1776.  The name Betsy Ross surfaced in the news in relation to some Nike sneakers.

Help your students learn just who Betsy Ross was and her contribution to our fledgling country.


Citizenship # 1 – Betsy Ross – 9 July 2019

Hey there. This is Maria from English without Fear. Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about the history of the American flag. Flags are an important symbol for countries. And a woman named Betsy Ross is very famous for the part that she played in designing an American flag. So sit back, relax, listen, and just try to understand as much as you can

The United States of America started out as 13 separate colonies. And the colonies belonged to England or Great Britain or the United Kingdom, all different names for England. And after a while, the people in the American colonies did not like some of the laws that were made in London. London was very far away from the colonies! So the Americans wrote out a document called the Declaration of Independence and they explained in this document the reasons why they were breaking away from England. They wrote why they were going to be their own country. And this was signed by important men and everybody celebrated this Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. We call it the ‘4th of July’, the birthday of the United States. 

Well, England did not like this document. England did not like that the colonies broke away from mother England. So, they sent soldiers and they sent sailors on ships to fight, to fight, to hold on to the colonies.

Now, Betsy Ross lived during this time. She grew up in a family in the state of Pennsylvania and she learned to sew. She learned to sew from her aunt and her aunt’s father. She learned to sew clothes, but she also learned to sew upholstery. Upholstery is what covers chairs and sofas. And upholstery, when you sew it, is thick. 

One of the other things that Betsy Ross learned to sew were flags. And so she became very good, very skilled and experienced at sewing flags. And the Navy of Pennsylvania, for their ships to fight the English ships, the Navy needed flags for their ships. Betsy Ross was one of a group of women who sewed flags for the Navy ships. 

Her family tells the story (her grandson actually) that one day President George Washington, (though at that time in 1776 he was General George Washington), he came by Betsy Ross’s house with two other important men with a plan, a design for a flag for the United States of America.

The flag plan or design had 13 stars and 13 stripes, a star and a stripe for each new state. According to the story that Betsy Ross’s grandson wrote up, Betsy said to General Washington, ”If we change the stars to have five points and not six points, the stars will be easier, will be more easy to cut out.”

And General George Washington agreed! So Betsy Ross and others made the flag, the first flag for the United States of America, according to the story by her grandson. Anyway, in 1876 for the 100-year celebration, the 100-year birthday party for America, July 4th, 1876 Congress decided to name that first flag with the 13 stars and the 13 stripes. Congress decided to name that flag, ‘the Betsy Ross flag’. And to this day, Betsy Ross is known as one of those women who worked a job doing something important for the new country and having a family. She was married, she had children, and she created flags. She sewed flags to make money for her family.

Well, that’s it for this little tidbit of American history and American stories. And if you haven’t subscribed to this channel, please do so, so you won’t miss any other episodes of English without Fear. And if you are a teacher of English language learners, you can go to my website, Englishwithoutfear.com and sign up for the free newsletter. In that newsletter, I provide other resources that I find, other teaching tips and helps for YOU, the language coach, language tutor, or language parent. This is Maria, from English without Fear. Talk to you next time! 


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