“There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865), 16th American president
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This free ESL lesson plan on xxx 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.

With the advent of the camera phone, everyone has the potential to be a photographer these days. We all like taking photos, whether they are of family members or beautiful landscapes, as much as we like looking at other people’s photos. This, however, doesn’t mean that we are all now artists! In this ESL lesson plan on photography, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the types of photos they like, how to take a good photo and ethical issues associated with photography.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Photography Day, which takes place in August. 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):

Photo Traces | “12 World Famous Photos and Stories Behind Them”

The article shows some of the most iconic photos taken in history and gives a bit of the background behind the photos. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. Which photos have they seen before? Which do they think are the most powerful and why?

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 a guide by Joshua Cripps called “How To Take Amazing Photos” which gives a number of tips for capturing the perfect snap.


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 interested the students are in photography, what they like taking photos of and whether or not they have a special pose for photos.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with photography such as selfie, camera-shy and photogenic. 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 photography. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether or not you need to be artistic to take a good photo, their opinion on edited photos and what people should and should not be able to take photos of.


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