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Teaching Ideas for ESL: Who do you admire?

written by: Jessica Ocheltree • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 8/2/2012

When you teach English as a second language, one of the most interesting things you experience is seeing another culture's perspective. This lesson for intermediate students includes discussions about admirable qualities and allows students to review and learn adjectives for describing people.

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    Target Students

    This lesson plan works best with upper intermediate students. It introduces them to a discussion-style lesson and gives them an opportunity to use existing vocabulary for describing people and professions. In addition, the teacher has the opportunity to start introducing higher-level vocabulary.

    Correction should be done to assist with developing students' accuracy, but in order to have an orderly class flow, it is recommended that correction be done in between steps and as a class. When you hear a mistake, write it on the board to go over later. This allows discussion to continue naturally and everyone in the class to hear the teacher's comment.

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    Set Up

    Start by writing some admirable professions on the board. Some examples you can use are teachers, doctors, sports players, CEOs, volunteers, firefighters, scientists, police officers, movie stars, and homemakers. Feel free to use others that may be more culturally significant for your students.

    Going through the list, ask your class to brainstorm words that describe each profession. Write the words on the board. They may be positive or negative. Assist them with appropriate vocabulary.

    Once you have a few adjectives for each profession, ask students which job they admire most. You may have to explain the word "admire." Some possible definitions are "you think they are really great," "you respect them" or "you think their work is really amazing."

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    Pair Work

    Before class, prepare some photos of well-known admirable people. Some suggestions are Bill Gates, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, J.K. Rowling, Einstein, Gandhi, Pele, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Again, it is best to customize based on your students' level and cultural background. You can find public domain photos at Wiki Commons.

    In case your students are not familiar with the person, write their name and a short bio on the back of the photos. It shouldn't have a lot of information that students will have to take time to read, though. For example, Bill Gates might read: Founded the software company Microsoft. One of the richest men in the world. Started a foundation with his wife to reduce poverty and provide healthcare to the poor.

    Split the class into pairs and give each pair two photos. First, ask the partners to tell each other what they know about each person. Then ask them to choose which person they admire more. The partners may have the same answer or different ones.

    Ask the pairs to share their decisions with the class.

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    Group Work

    Split the class into two or three small groups. Ask each group to chose one person as the most admired person in the world. Be clear that they can choose historical people, famous people or people in their own lives. However, the group must come to a consensus. Then, they must make a presentation about their chosen person.

    Give the groups time to prepare their presentations. Assist with vocabulary and correction as necessary. Make sure that each person in the group is taking part and has a section of the presentation.

    Finally, have each group present their choice to the class.