Black Friday

"That happiness is to be attained through limitless material acquisition is denied by every religion and philosophy known to mankind, but is preached incessantly by every American television set."

Robert Neelly Bellah (1927 – 2013), American sociologist
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This free ESL lesson plan on Black Friday 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.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. On this day, people reflect on all the things they are grateful for having in their lives. The day after, millions of those same people rush to the stores desperate to buy things they don’t have and probably don’t need. This wonderful juxtaposition provides a fascinating insight into the contradictory nature of the societies in which we live. There is something integral in human nature that not only drives us to constantly desire new possessions, but also drives some people to act in the most selfish, aggressive and sometimes violent way in order to achieve this. With that said, getting a pair of Adidas Sambas for half price is surely worth it all! In this ESL lesson plan on Black Friday, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the origins of Black Friday, shopping experiences on Black Friday, and the effect Black Friday has had on society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Black Friday , which takes place in November. Don’t forget that you can also use the lesson plans on Shopping, Online Shopping and Consumerism for Black Friday as well. 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):

The Independent | International Buy Nothing Day: What is the anti-Black Friday protest and how effective is it?

The article explains the origins of Buy Nothing Day, how people have protested against the consumerism promoted by Black Friday, and how successful this movement has been. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of 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. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is a called “20 Most Insane Black Friday Incidents” by WatchMojo which highlights some of the crazy and desperate things people have done to buy things they neither want nor need at a discounted price.


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 when Black Friday became popular around the world, what bargains can be found on this day, and whether Black Friday undermines the themes of Thanksgiving.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with Black Friday such as bargain, rip-off and crowds. 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 political ideologies. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the importance of Black Friday for the economy, the practices of shops during this period, and why some people protest Black Friday on Buy Nothing Day.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of Black Friday. 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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