Online Shopping

“The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.”

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
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This free ESL lesson plan on online shopping 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.

There has been a revolution in the way people buy and sell things, thanks largely in part to Amazon. Nowadays, it’s a lot easier and usually cheaper to buy things online instead of in traditional shops. However, there are still many problems associated with online shopping such as data protection and identity theft, and many countries still don’t have a lot of options to buy things online. In this ESL lesson plan on online shopping, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their favourite online shops, the effect that online shopping has had on the world and what the future holds for shopping.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day or Single’s Day, which take place in November. 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):

BBC News | High Street: How many UK shops have closed?

The article looks at a number of reasons behind the crisis on the High Street including the effect of online shopping, changing customer habits, and changing tastes. 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 other reasons?

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 “Is retail dying?” by CNBC International which looks at how traditional retail is being replaced by online giants.


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 most famous online shops, the popularity of online shopping in the student’s country and the pros and cons of online shopping.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with online shopping such as brick-and-mortar shop, wishlist and online auction. 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 online shopping. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the problems people can have shopping online, how online shopping affects the environment and whether online shopping will replace traditional shopping in the future.


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