Remembrance Day & Veterans Day

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”

From 'The Fallen' by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on Remembrance Day and Veterans Day 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.

At 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, The First World War was officially over. At this time and on this day every year, those who sacrificed their lives for their country are remembered in various countries around the world. What began as a commemoration for World War 1 is now a time of reflection for all those who lost their lives in times of war, both military and civilian. In this ESL lesson plan on Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the history of the World Wars and the importance of remembering those who gave their lives during conflicts.

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):

The Conversation | “World War I: what we’ve learned from the ‘war to end all wars’”

The article talks about some of the history and the lessons we learned from World War 1. 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 written? 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 “What Is Remembrance Day and Why Is the Poppy Its Symbol?” by Inside Edition in which a Canadian military officer explains the meaning of Remembrance Day and how the poppy came to be its symbol.

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 what the students know about the two world wars and whether or not we have forgotten the lessons of these tragic historical events.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day such as armistice, poppy and veteran. 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 honouring and remembering those who died in wars. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as why it’s important to honour those who gave their lives defending their country and whether or not society appreciates this sacrifice.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of Remembrance Day and Veterans Day. 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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