Mobile Phones

“The cell phone has become the adult's transitional object, replacing the toddler's teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.”

Margaret Heffernan, American entrepreneur and writer
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This free ESL lesson plan on mobile phones 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.

For over a decade, people have been carrying around a phone, camera, computer with internet access, video games console, TV and DVD player, and calculator in their pockets in a single device: the mobile phone (or cell phone, if you absolutely insist). We couldn’t imagine how to survive if we didn’t have our mobiles with us. When Apple announced the first smartphone in 2007, it truly did change the world. In the future, more and more functions will be added to this little device we carry around with us. But as with any kind of new technology, not everything that it changed has been for the better. In this ESL lesson plan on cell phones, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the best phone brands, what they use their phone for and the effect mobiles have on society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which takes place in May. 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):

TechHQ | Apple thinks AR glasses will replace smartphones

The article talks about a technology that could potentially replace the smartphone: augmented reality. This technology, in the form of ordinary looking glasses, would display what we currently see on our mobile phones, but in our line of vision. 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 “Why Smartphones Stopped Being Cool” Bloomberg Quicktake which looks at how the once-revolutionary smartphone has lost some of its innovativeness.


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 how the students’ first phones were different to the ones we use today, their favourite functions on their phones, and whether or not people use their mobile phones too much these days.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with mobile phones and cell phones such as break up, pocket dial and hands-free. 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 mobiles and cells. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as how mobile phones changed the world, at what age children should be allowed to use a cell phone, and in what ways our phones could pose a threat to our health and security.


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