This free ESL lesson plan on the coronavirus 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.
At the beginning of 2020, the world changed forever. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the coronavirus disease (or Covid-19), had spread to all corners of Earth. Hospitals quickly became overwhelmed, and economies ground to a halt. Billions remained isolated indoors and everyday activities, simple things like visiting family members, ceased. For nearly a year, the world waited for a vaccine to set them free. That call was answered with revolutionary technology that had been developed over the previous decade, and vaccines started to be administered around the world. Despite this miracle of human endeavour and scientific excellence, many people remained unconvinced and refused to take the vaccine. Several years after the pandemic began, and despite the reactivation of certain sectors of the economy, restrictions are still in place. In this ESL lesson plan on the covid pandemic, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as responses to the outbreak of covid and the development and rollout of the vaccines.
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 article refers to a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate which found that the majority of covid misinformation and conspiracy theories originated from just 12 online personalities including pseudoscientists, wellness influencers, religious zealots and the nephew of John F Kennedy. 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?
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 “How the COVID-19 vaccines were created so quickly” by TED Ed which looks at how mRNA vaccines were developed so quickly, how they work, and why this technological breakthrough could prove to be as important as the discovery of penicillin in the past.
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 symptoms and risks of covid, whether it was fair that rich countries received all the initial supplies of the vaccine, and which covid misinformation and conspiracies the students have heard about.
After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with covid-19 such as herd immunity, booster shot and anti-vaxxer. 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 the coronavirus pandemic. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the effectiveness of the vaccines, what assistance governments gave citizens and businesses during the pandemic, and whether the coronavirus is something humans will have to live with forever.
After the class, students will write about their thoughts on the covid pandemic. 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.