“Happiness is not in money, but in shopping.”

Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962), American actress
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This free ESL lesson plan on shopping 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.

For many people, shopping is one of their favourite pastimes; for other people, it is simply a necessity or something boring. That said, we all have that special item that if bought, would make us feel extremely happy. In this ESL lesson plan on shopping, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as how they feel about shopping, what they like shopping for and shopaholics.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Black Friday, or China’s Singles’ Day (the biggest online shopping day in the world!), both of which take place in November. 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):

BBC | Singles Day: Luxury brands jump on China’s mega shopping event

The article explores China’s “Single’s Day”, the antithesis to Valentine’s Day for people without a romantic partner. In terms of sales figures, it is the single biggest shopping event in the world. The date, 11th November (or double 11), was chosen as “1” resembles a bare stick, which is Chinese internet slang for an unmarried man (who adds no further branches to his family tree). At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. Is there a singles’ day in their country? Will this event catch on in other countries? Is it a real holiday or just one manufactured by retailers to sell products? Are there any other holidays like that?

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 by Only Human and tells the story of a compulsive shopper named Dipna. Dipna cannot help herself when she sees something she likes in a shop and has to buy it, and for that reason, she has accumulated a huge amount of luxury items, and a huge amount of debt.


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 whether shopping is a pleasure or a torture, the students’ favourite shops and whether people should only buy what they need.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with shopping such as haggle, window shoping and bargain hunter. 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 shopping. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the difference between men and women when it comes to shopping, the pressures that exist in society to buy new things and how shopping will be different in the future.


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


Did you find this lesson plan useful?

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