“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882), British biologist
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This free ESL lesson plan on animals has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Animals are a thing of beauty and inspiration. Without animals there would be no humans. We rely on animals to provide us with food, clothes, and comfort, as well as helping to keep natural areas in balance. Yet despite all this, we cannot truthfully say that we treat animals with the respect that they deserve. In this ESL lesson plan on animals, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their favourite animals, why animals are important for humans and the lessons we can learn from them.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Animal Day, which takes place in October. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Global Giving | Unsung Heroes: 10 Ways Animals Help Us

The article lists a number of ways animals provide a benefit to humans, including bees pollinating the crops that we eat, beavers helping to combat climate change, and llamas guarding farms. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways to add to the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “Do animals have language?” by TED Ed which looks at the way animals communicate to see if there are similarities with the way humans communicate.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the most beautiful animals, the most dangerous animals, and the animals found in the students’ countries.

After this, students will learn some idioms connected with animals such as to chicken out, fishy and when pigs fly. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about animals. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the difference between animals as pets and animals as food, which animal the students would like to be, and what animals would say to us if they could speak.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of animals. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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