Monday, 29 April 2013

ESL lesson plan - Movie reviews

This is a low level high school ESL lesson that could also be easily used in an advanced middle school class. All my students recognized the films although most of them needed help with the actors names. The key phrases don't allow for much sentence expansion, although any high level students could expand a bit on the final question.

Lesson aim.
To be able to write a movie review. To be able to talk about movies. To learn the names of movie genres.

50 minutes

What you need.
Movie Review presentation. (To watch the movie trailer just click on the number in the corner of the slide)
Movie review worksheet
Internet connection.

What to do.
Activity one. (Introduction)
This is the first two slides of the presentation. Explain to the students what genre means and ask if they know any in English, explain to the students what the genres on the slide are. Check the students understanding by asking them to name films in that genre and by asking how films from a certain genre make them feel. Next explain what a movie review is and ask the students what they would normally read about in a movie review (7 minutes)

Activity two.
Introduce the four key phrases and check the students understanding. Show the first trailer then ask the students the key phrases, ask the students to get into pairs and ask and answer the questions. Do this with all four slides. (20 minutes)

Activity three.

Ask the students to review their favourite movie. They should do this by answering the four key phrases on their worksheet. (10 minutes)

Activity four 
Put the students into teams, one at a time one person from each team should read their movie review. The other teams should try and guess what the movie is. (13 minutes)

Monday, 22 April 2013

High School Esl Lesson Plan - What Happened Next.

This is a fantastic lesson for practising the future tense and the phrase 'I think that ..' I used it with my lower level class and they absolutely loved it. Honestly this is one of the most fun lessons I have ever used. All credit to the author. You can find the full lesson plan at

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The 5 best ESL conversation activities

One of the most important things to do as an English teacher is to get your students talking. However students can often appear shy and withdrawn when faced with the task of speaking. These are the 5 best activities that I use to get the conversation flowing in my classroom.

1. The introduction.
Just after introducing the topic of the lesson, I always ask my students to think about what questions they could ask each other about the topic. This gets the students thinking in English whilst also giving them practice in initiating a conversation. It also gives them control over what they are speaking about, so the questions will always be at the right level, and hopefully more interesting to them. I usually write the questions they come up with on the board and then give them 5 minutes to ask and answer the questions. Once they have finished the activity I choose a few students at random to  talk about the answers their friends gave. This means that they will all take part in the activity. One last word of advice, make sure the questions are open questions that induce conversation.

2. The game.
There are many games that can be used to start conversations, but this is definitely my favorite. First use the word grid game template found in this lesson. Then fill the grid up with words related to the topic of the lesson. Put the students in pairs and give them one grid each. One student will be O and one student will be X. The students should then take turns saying sentences using one or more word from the grid, marking the words off as they say them. The first students to say every word in the grid wins. This is a great activity as the students can practice using words they would not normally say.

3. The best way to get students to use their imagination.
Hypothetical questions are a great and interesting way to get the students to talk about subjects that they are not used to talking about. They can be anything from traditional role play such as 'What would you do if you lost your wallet?' to much more fun made up questions such as 'If you where a Superhero what power would you have?'. I usually ask one question to all the groups in my class and give them a couple of minutes to think of an answer. I then get them to say their answer and make the other groups ask a follow up question that the group has to reply to on the spot.

4. The debate.
For this activity you should again put the students in groups. This time say a controversial statement and make each group choose whether they agree or disagree with the statement. Like in the hypothetical questions activity, once the group has said their answer you should make all the other groups ask one question challenging part of their answer. This makes the students think quickly on their feet and can lead to some very interesting discussions.

5. The challenge.
At my school at the moment I have an ongoing speaking challenge. I have a set of topics that I have folded and put into a box. At the end of each lesson I ask one student to come to front and choose a topic from the box. The student then has to speak for as long as they can without breaks or repeating themselves about the topic. I then write down how long they were able to speak for and once every student has spoken about a topic I will be giving the winner a prize. So far my high level students have become VERY competitive about it as they all really want to be the class winner.

High School ESL Lesson Plan - Art!

This is an advanced conversation focused double lesson that can easily be adapted to suit a low level ESL class. All you need to do is change the words in the first activity to suit your classes level. The final activity is also quite hard so you could either change this for something else or simply make it a one off lesson.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

High School ESL Lesson Plan - The worlds most typical person

I have just finished this lesson and the students were really into it, it lasted for two 50 minute lessons. I got the idea and a couple of the activities from this great website With just a couple of adjustments depending on your class size this lesson should be ready to go.

Lesson aim.
To improve conversation and presentation skills. To review comparisons and to practice backing up a statement with a reason.

50 minutes x 2

What you need.
The most typical person presentation.
The most typical person national geographic video.
People profiles for second activity.
People profiles for the game.

What to do.
Activity one. (Lesson 1)
Ask the students to read the lesson title and check they understand typical. Show the next slide and ask the students to read the questions. Spit the class into groups and ask them to think of an answer to each question and a reason for their answer. Then ask each group to present their answers too the class. I make sure a different student reads each answer.  (20 minutes)

Activity two.
For the next activity I made lot's of different people profiles, this is supposed to represent everyone in the world. The students will have to gather all the information on the profiles to find out the answers to the questions from activity one. They will do this by going around the class and asking each other questions. I then ask each group to present their findings.  (25 minutes)

Activity three.
I then show the national geographic video with all the correct answers. The students can then see how close their guesses from the first activity were and also they can see who was correct in the second activity. (5 minutes)

Activity four (Lesson 2).
Continuing from the previous lesson I showed the national geographic video again. I then showed the next slide in the presentation with the comparison sentence structures on it and asked the students to compare themselves to the average person. I then asked some of the students to present what they found to the class. (20 minutes)

Activity 5. 
This is a variation of the card game mafia, except instead of trying to find the murderer the students are trying to find the typical person. First print and cut out the profile cards I have attached and,  in their groups, give one to each student. One person in each group will receive the typical person card. The rest of the group has to find out who received this card by asking each other questions. The person with the typical person card has to lie about which card they received so people do not think it is them. When the students in the group think they know who has the card they should eliminate that person. If they are correct then  deal the cards again but if they chose the wrong person the game continues until either they choose the correct person or the typical person manages to deceive the group and become the last man standing. (30 minutes)

High School ESL Lesson Plan - Personality Test.

This is a low level lesson I have designed around this fantastic Prezzie presentation by Harriet Smith. It is ready to go using just the Prezzie and some paper.

Monday, 8 April 2013

High School ESL Lesson Plan - Events that Changed the World

Here is my third lesson titled Events that Changed the World. This lesson has worked really well with both high and low levels and easily lasted two lessons. It should also be ready to use without any further preparation.

Lesson aim.
To encourage the students to use more complex English. To teach them how to analyse events using English.

50 minutes x 2

What you need.
Events that Changed the World Presentation.

What to do.
Activity one.
Introduce the lesson title and check they understand it. Show the second slide 'What was an Important day for you?' and ask the students to think of questions they could ask someone about their most important day. For example: When was it? Who where you with? etc. Then put the students into pairs and tell them to think of their most important day and ask each other the questions the class thought up. At the end ask some students to present their partners perfect day. For Example: This is my friend Miroo, her most important day was her 10th Birthday. It was important because she.. (20 minutes)

Activity two.
Tell the students that you will show them some important world events, show the next slide and make sure they understand what each question means. Introduce the first event one clue at a time and ask the students to guess  what the event was. Ask them to read the information about the event then split the class into four groups and assign each group a question to think about. Give them some time to think about the question then ask each group to tell the class what they think. Repeat this for each event. (60 minutes)

Activity three.
Ask each group to think of a world event that they think was important and discuss and answer each question. Then tell them to introduce their chosen event to the class. (20 minutes)

Download presentation here.

Friday, 5 April 2013

High School ESL lesson plan - Famous People Biographies

Hello English teachers! This is the second lesson plan I used with my classes. It is one of my favourite lessons and it worked really well with both high and low level high school classes, with only some minor adjustments needed.
This lesson is actually 100% good to be used straight from the materials provided on this site.

Lesson aim.
To teach the students how to pick out important information from a text. To improve the students reading ability and confidence speaking in front of others.

50 minutes

What you need.
Who Am I presentation.
Printouts of famous people introductions

What to do.
Activity one.
First to remind the students of the topic, ask them questions about you from the previous lesson. (3 minutes)

Activity two.
Go though the Presentation showing each clue one at a time. Ask the students to raise their hand when they know who the famous person is. (5 minutes)

Activity three.
Hand out the printouts with the celebrity introductions on them. Ask the students to choose 4 facts about the celebrity and write them down in order of how easy it is to guess the person. Ask them to write the facts down in the form 'I am ...' (15 minutes)

Activity four.
Split the class into four groups. Ask one group to read out the first of their biographies. The other groups should write down their answer on a whiteboard and raise their hand when they know the answer. You should check if it is right or not. Keep going until all the teams have an answer. If the students answered correctly after 1 question give them 4 points, after 2 questions 3 points etc.. (27 minutes)

*I used introductions from for my high level class. I used the biographies of Steve Jobs, Tiger Woods, Annne Frank, Sharapova, Mozart, Queen Elizabeth 2, David Beckam, Ban Ki Moon, Lady GaGa, Will Smith, Obama, J.K Rowling
For my low level classes I used this word document
The answers to the Who Am I game are 1. Nelson Mandela 2. Psy 3. Adele 4. Ronaldo. Most of my classes knew every one.

Download presentation here


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High school ESL lesson plan - introduction

Hello! This is the introduction lesson plan I used in my first high school esl class.

The PowerPoint used in this lesson is personal to me. So please edit it before you use it! 

Lesson aim.
To introduce yourself to the class. To start to build the students confidence in speaking English in front of people.

50 minutes

What you need.
Worksheet with space to answer all your questions. Space for the students to fill in the true or false  game.

What to do.
Activity one.
To get the students thinking about the topic, ask the class what questions they could ask a new person to find out information about them. (3 minutes)

Activity two.
Go through the quiz on the presentation. When doing this ask the students to read out every question. Go over the answers, go through each possible option asking the students to raise their hand if they thought it was that answer. (20 minutes)

Activity three.
Have the students write out three facts about themselves on the paper. Two facts should be true, one should be false. Have the students cut the true or false section from their worksheet, fold it and hand the paper in to you. Split the room into teams. Have one student come to the front and read out someones paper, in their teams the students should then try to guess which fact is false. (27 minutes)

* Low level modification. In my low level classes I used the exact same presentation, except for the slide about Manchester and the final slide about England.
For the game instead of true or false I asked the students to answer the following questions;
Where do you live?
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
What is your hobby?
What is your favourite food?
I then split the class into groups and asked one student to read out someones introduction. Each group then had to guess who the introduction belonged to.

Download link here

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Welcome to High school esl!

Hello! Welcome to my High school ESL teaching website. Whether you are a new teacher fresh off the plane looking for some inspiration or an old hand wanting to add some ideas to you repertoire I hope these high school lesson ideas will be of use. This is what I will be including on this website:

PowerPoint presentations, worksheets and all other resources for every lesson I do at my two high schools. This will include both high and low level lesson plans and they should be adaptable to fit most high school, university and even high level middle school classes.
The lessons I will be providing are designed to provoke discussion between students, they will all allow students of different abilities to work at a level they feel comfortable at without taking away from the other students. They will include lots of conversation games, group discussion activities and presentations. However due to the focus on speaking these lesson plans will not be suitable for  teachers who have been asked to focus on grammar or leaning vast amounts of vocab, although I am sure that you could use a lot of the activities as part of a grammar lesson.

I will be describing any individual games and activities I think can be used in a wide variety of classes, and showing how they can be adapted to different students needs.

I hope you and your students enjoy these lessons as much as my classes did!

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