The Ocean

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly ocean.”

Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008), British science-fiction writer
All Lesson Plans
General English
Business English
Special Holidays & World Days


This free ESL lesson plan on the ocean 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.

The ocean conjures up images of both tranquillity and immense power. It is a place where families can have fun relaxing at the beach, creating special memories. But more than that, the ocean provides for all life on the planet. Containing the vast majority of life on Earth, and producing most of the oxygen we breathe, it is vital we protect the oceans. In this ESL lesson plan on the ocean, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as going to the beach, what experiences they have had with the ocean and how important the ocean is.

This lesson plan, as well as the lesson plan on marine life, could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Oceans Day, which takes place in June. 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):

World Economic Forum | “Here are 5 reasons why the ocean is so important”

The article lists a number of reasons the ocean is vital for humanity including the air we breathe, regulating the global temperature, sources of food, biodiversity and the creation of millions of jobs. 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 anything else to add to the list?

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 Big Is The Ocean?” by TED Ed. It talks about the unimaginable size of the ocean and how important it is for supporting life on our planet.


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 the ocean makes them think about, what they like about the ocean and their favourite beach experiences.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with the ocean such as rough seas, the seven seas and beach bum. 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 the ocean. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as what experiences people can have in or near the ocean, the economic importance of the ocean and what environmental problems the ocean is facing.


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


Did you find this lesson plan useful?

Your English Pal is a free resource to help fellow ESL teachers save time when preparing their classes. If these lesson plans have helped you, and you’d like to help keep the site free, please consider making a small contribution to help cover the site’s costs. Any help you can give is much appreciated!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *