This free ESL lesson plan on war and peace 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.
While there are currently more than 50 wars being fought around the world, resulting in the deaths of thousands and thousands every year, the trend since the end of the Cold War has been a steady reduction in deaths caused by conflict. This has led many to conclude that war is on its way out. Reasons for this, they proclaim, are the spread of democracy and globalisation of trade. Liberal democracies, so the theory goes, don’t wage war against each other. But we are entering a phase in history similar to other times in the past when global powers are competing to spread their spheres of influence. Alliances are forming, and the world is once again separating itself into opposing camps. Will we learn the mistakes of the past, or are we doomed to repeat them again? In this ESL lesson plan on war and peace, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the causes of war and how to prevent them.
This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for the International Day of Peace, which takes place in September. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.
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 article lists five ongoing conflicts, or sources of tension, that have the potential to bubble over into a much wider conflict involving the world’s military powers. 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?
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 “Rules of war (in a nutshell) | The Laws Of War” by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which explains the rules of war and how they are designed to protect civilians caught in the middle of conflicts.
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 major wars from history, concerns over future wars, and which causes the students would be prepared to fight for.
After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with war and peace such as war crime, civil war and collateral damage. 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 war and peace. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the justifications for war, how future wars will be fought, and whether war is the result of human nature.
After the class, students will write about their opinion of war and peace. 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.