ESL Lesson Plans


Here are a collection of lesson plans that have been created with adult Turkish learners in mind although most lessons could easily be used in any country.  Each lesson aims to address the unique environment of the Turkish classroom and to help with obstacles faced by many teachers here.  I will try to provide lessons that will highlight features of the Turkish classroom and perhaps set a template for creating future lessons along the same lines.  A lot of these lesson plans will be linked to discussions on my main blog.  You can click on the link under the lesson plan to check out the blog portion.

Current Total Number of Plans (28) + (8) Video lesson plans = (35)

They are organized by level from Beginner to Intermediate & Up.

Create a Country
Level:  All

This is a lesson the famous Chris Westergaard demoed for me and some other trainees on our TEFL course.  It can be adapted to work with both low level and high level classes and always gets great results.  It covers country vocabulary and basic question structures.

Dictionaries and their Discontents
Level:  All

Turkish-English dictionaries can be incredibly detrimental to your students’ learning and your classroom environment.  This lesson attempts to intuitively show students the pitfalls of using them.  It also attempts to provide a foundation for the banning of these dictionaries as well as to reinforce the idea of understanding chunks of meaning vis a vis literal translations.

For more on this, check out my posts  Turkish-English Dictionaries & Using Turkish in the Classroom.

Tank Battle!
Level:  Beginner & Up

This lesson focuses on imperatives, direction vocabulary, and prepositions of place and movement.  It also is designed to build trust in the class.  It can be used with Elementary levels and up.  You can read more on building relationships and trust in the class here.  Also check out the links at the bottom of that page for a number of other great ideas on building and maintaining trust.

Press Conference
Level:  Elementary & Up

This lesson is great practice for asking questions and writing up a news article for all levels.  It can also be used to focus on past simple or present perfect (for giving news/recent events).

The Comparative & Superlative Olympics
Level:  Elementary/Pre-Intermediate

Games are an excellent way to engage your students and teach English.  This lesson gets students up and moving, creates excitement in the classroom, and intuitively teaches comparative & superlative structures.  For more on this, check out my post on Education as Entertainment.

Achy Breaky Imperatives
Level:  Elementary & Pre-Int

This lesson was stolen from the onestopenglish lesson share here.  I used basically the same format, but instead of yoga, we’re doing line dancing, which is more fun and you don‘t have to get on the dirty floor.  The focus is still on imperatives, body parts, and following instructions.

Dream Vacation
Level:  Pre-Int & Up

This is a lesson where students have to give a presentation with a partner using the unreal situation of a dream vacation.  Critiquing and reflection skills are also practiced.

Famous American Ads
Level:  Pre-Int & Up

A lesson stolen from the British Council lesson share.  This one can be found here.  I think this is a great lesson, but I thought to myself, “wouldn’t real advertisements be more interesting?”.  So I went online, found a bunch of ads, some interesting advertisement pics to go with them, and the best commercials on YouTube.  The lesson is done in the same way, but just replaced with more authentic texts.

The Triangle Fire
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson integrates primarily listening and speaking with past tenses.  It focuses on the infamous story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York in 1914.  There is a strong focus on workers’ rights and I generally link it with The Tuzla Shipyards and An Evil Corporation.

More information on the philosophy and style for this lesson can be found at Controversy in the Classroom:  Juxtaposition & The Teacher as Narrative.

An Evil Corporation
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson is basically a vocabulary lesson with lots of speaking and some writing.  It’s a good fun activity for a business class or just for something more creative and interesting.  It can easily be used in conjunction with The Triangle Fire and The Tuzla Shipyards.  This is a lesson I got from the King of TEFL Mr. Chris Westergaard of The Language House in Prague where I got my TEFL certificate back in the day.  Thanks Chris.

Extreme Makeover
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

Primarily a speaking lesson that focuses on before & after clauses.  The lesson starts off with the well-known extreme makeover shows.

Sex Education for Muslims in Sweden
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson is an attempt to displace a bit of a taboo topic outside of Turkey to make it safer for the students to talk about.  It includes a reading, video-listening, and some discussion starters.  The post on this lesson can be found at Controversy in the Classroom:  Displacement.

Staying Out Late
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson is based around a mother-daughter dialogue about doing chores.  It’s useful for practicing present perfect with yet/already and is a good lead-in to make/let.

The Tallest Turk
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

A reading with lots of comparative and superlative practice, present perfect, and locating referants here.

Why Aren’t You Laughing?
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson tries to demonstrate and facilitate a discussion on learning context, especially cultural context, in the classroom.  I’m not quite happy with it, but you can let me know what you think.  You can read more here at Why Aren’t You Laughing?.

Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson is about Woodstock and the hippie generation.  It details one way in which you can ease the transition from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered classroom.  It also explores the idea of the teacher as narrative by using drama in the class along with images, music, and video.  It’s a good example of an immersive lesson plan and shows how one theme can be used over several class periods to focus on different skills or points.

For more, check out my post on The Teacher as Narrative:  Moving from a Teacher-centered to Learner-centered Classroom

My Bike Story – Relative Clauses
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson uses the teacher’s life as the basis for a listening and speaking exercise.  Ordering events, listening for information, and using relative clauses are all practiced.  This lesson format can be modified to fill a number of needs.

For more ideas, check out my post on The Teacher as Narrative:  Part Deux.

The Tuzla Shipyards
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson integrates listening, reading, and speaking.  It centers around workers’ rights in Turkey and is best used in conjunction with The Triangle Fire and An Evil Corporation.

More information on the philosophy for this lesson can be found at Controversy in the Classroom:  Juxtaposition.

Domestic Violence
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson is another example of juxtaposition to introduce controversy in the classroom and really pushes students beyond their comfort zones as this is a very taboo topic in Turkey.  It includes a video-listening.  You can read more about this in Controversy in the Classroom:  Push Your Students, Displacement, and Juxtaposition.

Everything Taking Too Long
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson is a humorous reading on impatience in America with a lot of good expressions that the students can then use to tell their own story.  You could also focus on “too,” gerunds & infinitives, or relative clauses.

Killing Istanbul Softly
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This is a reading and discussion lesson on a subject close to home, the reconstruction/restoration of historical and cultural landmarks.  The lesson focuses on understanding meaning from context and inferring meaning.

Crazy Shoppers
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson focuses on advanced relative clause use and placement in a text.  There’s then a fun clothes shopping game tied into it.

The Long Black Veil of Regret
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson uses the famous song “Long Black Veil” to open up some very interesting discussions on regrets and hypothetical situations.  Good for 3rd conditional and wish practice.

Celebrity Party
Level:  Intermediate & Up

A mingle activity that practices reported speech, argumentative language, and conciliatory language.

Why the Turkish Flag?

This lesson examines the controversial depiction of the Turkish flag adorning the cover of a film about 9/11.  It focuses on examining assumptions about cultures based on a text and can also be used to work on writing letters of complaint and parallelism or passives.

Photographer for the Khmer Rouge
Level:  Upper-Intermediate

This lesson can have a number of focuses including past modals of deduction, 3rd conditional, and passives.  It is also an excellent debate starter as it poses a very interesting ethical dilemma for students to discuss.

Sick Notes
Level:  Upper-Intermediate

This is a speaking and listening lesson that focuses on note-taking, reported speech, and present subjunctive.

Abortion & Extremisim
Level:  Upper-Intermediate

This lesson focuses on the abortion debate in America and at least one rather extreme position where violence came to be seen as justified.  There is a reading and a listening and a number of analytical and critical thinking skills are practiced.

Video Lessons

These require access to the Internet or a way to play video in the classroom.  If you don’t know how to access YouTube from Turkey, contact me and I will explain it.  It’s very easy.  If you do not have Internet in your classroom, any YouTube video can easily be downloaded at SaveVid or you can load the video at home and simply not close the window and bring your laptop to class.

Current Total Number of Video Lessons (8)

Mr. Bean Gets Ready – Present Simple Routines
Level:  Elementary

The credit for this lesson actually goes to a teacher named John I worked with in Vietnam.  It’s not the same lesson, because I actually never saw him do it, but he gave me the idea.  So, thanks John wherever you are.  This lesson focuses on present simple for morning routines and features some good clothing vocabulary.  It’s also nice for a laugh if your students are into the insipid humor of Mr. Bean.  Additional lessons using Mr. Bean can be found at TEFLtastic, ESL Galaxy, TES Connect, The English Blog, Teach It World, and Nifty Thrifty Ideas.

Tom & Jerry – Cat Napping – Present Continuous & Prepositions of Place & Movement
Level:  Elementary

This lesson is similar to one of the lessons on TEFLClips.  You can view that lesson here.  I tried a number of different things with it, but found this approach to work best.  Turkish students generally love Tom & Jerry and they are great for teaching tenses and prepositions, so that’s what I did here.

Seether – Fine Again – Discussing One-Line Texts
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson requires students to write down a couple lines of text from a video.  The texts are then used as a jumping off point for some very interesting discussions.

The Easter Bunny Hates You
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This is one of my favorite lessons.  It involves all 4 skills and centers around the Easter Bunny with 2 hilarious videos from Black20.  The main focus is on modals of deduction and other language of possibility.

What’s My Line? – Present Perfect vs. Simple
Level:  Pre-Intermediate & Up

This lesson takes a look at present perfect vs. simple questions, especially yes/no questions.  It’s a good lead in to the standard Who Am I? game.  It’s also nice for looking at older formal versions of English.

Good Idea Bad Idea – Anticipatory “It”
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson uses a clip from one of my favorite shows as a child, Animaniacs.  It’s a nice, concise lesson on converting gerunds to anticipatory “it” structures.

God is a DJ – 3rd Conditional
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson uses a great video to get across the idea of 3rd conditionals.

The Robbery
Level:  Intermediate & Up

This lesson can be used to look at advanced emotions vocabulary and when/while, before/after clauses.  It’s also great for a variety of drama activities.


  • By Sheri, April 18, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    Many thanks for making these lessons avail. to all. I suspect some of them are going to be brilliant addendum’s to my existing material.

  • By Christina, August 20, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    Thanks for posting Create a Country- this is my plan B for tomorrow :-) Either way, it will get used!

  • By Caroline, November 29, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

    Thank you so much for making these lesson plans available! My Turkish students run to the dictionary all the time and sometimes it confuses them. I’m using the translate one tomorrow. Really helpful, thanks again!

  • By turklis1, November 29, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    Glad you found them useufl Maria!

  • By Jordan, June 11, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

    These are great! I’m going to use some of them with my Korean students!

Other Links to this Post

  1. Lesson Plans for Turks | English Advantage — January 17, 2011 @ 7:36 am

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