“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

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

As social creatures, friendship is one of the most important concepts for human beings. Unlike our family, we can choose our friends based on shared interests or shared experiences. This makes them great to have fun with, but it also makes them great comfort in difficult times. In this ESL lesson plan on friends, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the meaning of friendship, how to make friends and why having friends is important.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for the International Day of Friendship, which takes place in July. 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):

ABC News | Facebook: 150 is the limit of real friends on social media

The article talks about the ‘Dunbar Number’ which states that, due to the capacity of a human brain, the maximum number of friends a person can have is 150. According to Professor Robin Dunbar, who came up with the theory, we have on average five intimate friends, 15 best friends, 50 good friends, 150 friends, 500 acquaintances and 1,500 people we recognise on sight. 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. 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 “The Purpose of Friendship” by The School of Life which offers some explanations about why we need friends and how they can help us understand ourselves better.


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 best qualities in a friend, how many friends they have and what they like to do with their friends.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with friends such as BFF, two-faced and to drift apart. 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 friends. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as what they can rely on their friends for, why friends fall out and whether men and women can really be “just friends”.


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