"While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary."

Chinua Achebe (1930 - 2013), Nigerian novelist, poet and professor
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This free ESL lesson plan on charity 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.

Charity is voluntarily helping those in need or helping a special cause. For some, charity can be a religious or civic duty, and can include helping homeless people, assisting people with illnesses, or protecting endangered species. Without charity, millions of people may go without the help they need. But why should these people have to rely on charity? Isn’t it the government’s job to solve the various problems that exist in society? In this ESL lesson plan on charity, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as well-known charities, the importance of charity, and the role charities play in society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for the International Day of Charity, which takes place in September. 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 Guardian | The science behind why people give money to charity

The article looks at some of the behavioural science that explains why people give to charity. 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 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 called “The dark side of charitable donation” by TED Talk in which the speaker, a humanitarian operations expert, explains the problems created when people donate too much of what is not needed after a disaster.


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 worthy causes charities help with, what working for a charity would be like, and why we need charities.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with charity such as charity shop, chugger and homeless. 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 charity. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the salaries of charity bosses, who should receive charity, and whether increasing taxes would be a better solution to social problems.


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