"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?"

Nicholas Johnson, former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission
All Lesson Plans
General English
Business English
Special Holidays & World Days

This free ESL lesson plan on television and TV shows 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.

Since its invention, TV has kept us captivated. It changed the way we see the world. It has even shown us new and fantastic worlds. But it is also known as the idiot box for a reason. For some, TV has enslaved people’s minds and made them lazy. No longer do children play outside on their bikes or climbing trees, instead choosing to sit for hours watching repeats of SpongeBob SquarePants. Adults too will waste an entire weekend binge watching series on Netflix. With that said, TV has revolutionised the way we receive information, and many shows can be educational and inspirational. In this ESL lesson plan on television and TV shows, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their favourite TV shows and the effect television has had on society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Television Day, which takes 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):

MovieWeb | How Twin Peaks Changed Television

The article pays homage to Twin Peaks, possibly the greatest TV show ever made. While today’s viewers may see nothing special from Mark Frost and David Lynch’s masterpiece, this was the TV show that changed the rules and paved the way for modern classics such as Lost, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. 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 a called “Top 10 TV Shows Everyone Should Watch at Least Once” by WatchMojo which lists some of the greatest TV shows of all time, including The Office, The Simpsons, and of course, Twin Peaks.


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 most popular TV shows from the students’ countries, their favourite TV shows when they were a child and whether they have ever appeared on TV.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with television and TV shows such as binge watch, soap opera and sitcom. 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 political ideologies. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as streaming services, the effect TV has on children, and how TV will be different in the future.


After the class, students will write about their favourite TV show. 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?

Your English Pal is a free resource to help fellow ESL teachers save time when preparing their classes. If these lesson plans have helped you, and you’d like to help keep the site free, please consider making a small contribution to help cover the site’s costs. Any help you can give is much appreciated!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *