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This free ESL lesson plan on immigration 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.

Every country experiences immigration to a greater or lesser extent. It’s also one of the top motivations for those learning English. Immigration brings untold benefits to a country and its economy, although it is not without its problems. In North America and Europe, immigration is a particularly important topic of debate around election time. In this ESL lesson plan on immigration, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the reasons people leave their countries, the benefits of immigration and why some countries appear to be against it.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for International Migrants Day, which takes place in December. 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 | “Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?”

The article explores why some people are called ‘expats’ while others are referred to as ‘immigrants’ despite both technically being immigrants. 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 written? 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 “How does immigration impact the economy?” by CNBC highlights some of the benefits immigration has for a country’s economy.


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 motivations of immigrants, the problems they might face in their new country and the students’ own experiences of immigration.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with immigration such as economic migrant, undocumented migrant and the difference between immigrate and emigrate. 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 immigration. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as why some countries have strict immigration policies, the effects of immigration on the economy and the issue of illegal immigration.


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