"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865), 16th president of the United States
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This free ESL lesson plan on freedom 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.

Freedom is the ability to act in whichever way you want, and the ability to make any decision you want. Total freedom, while promoted by many, has never truly been desired as being able to do what you want can severely restrict the ability of another person to do what they want, especially when it comes to staying alive (as most people do). When it comes to freedom, the general argument is that people should be free to do what they want, as long as they do not impose on the freedoms of others. For that reason, murder is a crime which people are not free to commit, along with a whole host of other limits on freedom. Another argument for limiting individual freedoms is that it is necessary to increase security. Governments need to control their populations, and taking away freedoms is the best way to achieve this. Telling them it’s for their own security is one way governments get people to accept this loss of freedom, more successfully in some countries than others. In this ESL lesson plan on freedom, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what it means to have freedom, what limits should be placed on freedom, and why freedom is important.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Freedom Day, which takes place in November. 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 Conversation | To what extent are you truly free?

The article gives a few explanations on what freedom might mean, and then asks whether we are free because we have the ability to make choices, or whether we can only be considered free if those choices are well-informed. 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 “Do We Have Free Will or Are We Predetermined?” by The School of Life which looks at the philosophical debate over whether people really have free will to determine their own future, or whether it has already been planned for them.


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 what freedoms the students have, which countries enjoy the most freedoms, and whether freedom and democracy are the same thing.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with freedom such as free as a bird, free spirit and free will. 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 freedom. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether people should be free to do what they want as long as they don’t harm others, the relationship between economic freedom and individual freedom, and how much of our lives are controlled by outside influences.


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