Pets

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”

Sir Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015), the greatest author of modern times
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on pets 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.

Are you a cat person or a dog person? Maybe you are neither, but for millions, maybe even billions, of people around the world, animals have provided company and comfort throughout history. Ever since the first humans domesticated wolves 12,000 years ago, we have considered our pets as best friends and a part of the family. In this ESL lesson plan on pets, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their experience with pets, which animals make the best pets and pros and cons of having a pet.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Animal Day, which takes place in October. 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.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

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):

CNN | Benefits (and some surprising science) about owning a pet

The article looks at some of the benefits of owning a pet including reducing anxiety, providing therapy and emotional support, and even the possibility of reducing cardiovascular disease. 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 “A brief history of dogs” which explains how humans first began to domesticate wolves and how these animals were bred to become the dogs we love as pets today.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

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 why people keep pets, the most popular pets in the student’s country and whether cats or dogs make the best pets.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with pets such as breed, emotional support animal and puppy dog eyes. 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 pets. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as how people should care for their pets, whether it is cruel to keep a pet in a cage and what people can learn from their pets.

HOMEWORK

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