Power & Influence

"Power is the chance to impose your will within a social context, even when opposed and regardless of the integrity of that chance."

Max Weber (1864 – 1920), German sociologist
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This free ESL lesson plan on power and influence 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.

Power is the ability to make others do what you want. In the political sense, it is the ability to influence government to act in a way favourable to your interests. In a democracy, every person has equal power to influence the government with their single vote. Theoretically. In practice, there are people in society who wield much more power than the average person. These people usually have a lot of money, and if politicians want one thing, it’s a share of that money, without which, they would struggle to pay for the election campaigns necessary to maintain their own power. In this ESL lesson plan on power in society, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as who has power in society, how they gain power, and how they hold on to it.

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):

The Teal Mango | 10 Most Powerful People in the World

The article looks at the most powerful people in the world, from political leaders like Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, to business leaders like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. 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. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is called “The Five Rules of Power Politics” by Big Think which looks at what political leaders from dictatorships and democracies have to do to maintain their grip on power.


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 much power and influence the students have, whether men or women have more power, and the most powerful countries.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with power and influence such as power-mad, power trip and jobsworth. 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 power and influence. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as why people pursue power, whether it power should be distributed equally, and whether power leads to corruption.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of power and influence. 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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