“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), 6th president of the United States
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This free ESL lesson plan on justice 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.

Justice can mean different things to different people. In very simple terms, justice means that all people receive what they deserve. For some people, this is linked to punishment when someone has caused harm to others. For other people, justice is linked to equality and the fair treatment of all members of society. In this ESL lesson plan on justice, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what justice means, how just they consider their own countries and the concept of social justice.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for the World Day of Social Justice, which takes place in February. 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 | “Revenge Is Sweet, and It’s Everywhere”

The article talks about the natural desire people have for revenge and whether people who say “I want justice” are really thinking “I want revenge”. 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? When have they desired revenge?

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 by The School of Life and explains philosopher John Rawls’ theory of justice.


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 whether or not justice is done in the students’ countries, whether or not rich people and poor people are treated differently by the justice system and the connection between justice and democracy.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with education such as evade justice, miscarriage of justice and fair trial. 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 social justice. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as what they consider to be the greatest injustices in the world, why these injustices exist and whether different cultures have different concepts of justice.


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