“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.”

Muhammad Ali (1942 – 2016), American boxer
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This free ESL lesson plan on religion 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.

Religion teaches us how to love and tolerate one another. It is the basis upon which our values and laws were created. With that said, it is clear that religion has also caused problems between different groups of people throughout history. In this ESL lesson plan on religion, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the major religions of the world, the importance of religion and its role in society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Religion Day, which takes place in January or World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place in February. 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):

The Conversation | “How strong a role does religion play in US elections?”

The article talks about how important a role religion plays in the United States in deciding elections in this traditionally secular country. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. Did they already know any of this? Are they surprised by any of this? Do they agree with what was written?

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 “The Five Major World Religions” by TED Ed which provides a brief overview of the beliefs and traditions of the five major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


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 religions practised in the students’ countries, the importance of religion in their lives and what religion is.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with religion such as secular, faith and worship. 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 religion in society. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether or not religion promotes tolerance, how religion has influenced societies through history and how the world be if there had been no religions.


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