ESL Lesson Plans for 2019

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Author: Chris S. Published on: Jan. 30, 2019 Expected Reading Time: 17 mins

All the resources you need to plan themed lessons for every month of the year

So, 2019 is here already. For many that means a chance to rejoice, to celebrate an eventful 2018 and make a brand-new start for the year ahead.

For us teachers, however, the arrival of the New Year means only one thing:

A whole 12 new months’ worth of lessons to plan, resources to gather and activities to prepare for.

They can't just be any old lessons or activities either. No, if you're going to truly help your students to learn and grow, then the kind of 2019 lesson plans you need to create must be engaging and even inspiring.

Easier said than done?

Not anymore it isn't.

Today, we present you with your complete Lesson plan calendar for 2019: 12 whole months of activities, ideas, and resources that you can use to plan creative, engaging, and enjoyable lessons right the year round.

Whether you're working with adults or young people, absolute beginners, or advanced English as a Second Language students, you'll find everything you need to come up with fun and educational lessons, all themed around annual holidays and other memorable occasions.


Key dates:

January 1st - New Year’s Day

January 21st - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

New Year’s Day - January 1st

It’s a brand new start to a brand new year, and that presents a great opportunity to talk about the different ways that people celebrate New Year's around the world.

We recently covered all your New Year’s lesson needs in our guide to 10 Unique Events That Make For Perfect Themed ESOL Lesson. In addition to those, it’s worth noting that ESOL Courses also have several Chinese New Year activities that can be useful for vocabulary lessons.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday, January 21st, 2019 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This is the perfect opportunity to plan lessons around cultural diversity, and the Get Up, Get Out, Get Lost blog has a number of themed activities that you can use to create such lessons.

Need more ESL resources for Martin Luther King Jr. Day? You'll find lots of resources on MLK himself, Black History Month, and other diversity issues on Twinkle.

Your full January resources:



Key dates:

February 14th - Valentine's Day

Love is in the air this month, and luckily we've got lots of Valentines-themed ESOL activities for those of you planning to invite Cupid into your classroom.

English for Asia has helpfully put together six ideas to help you plan lessons for students of all ages, from age-appropriate love letters and poems for younger children to 'speed dating' style activities for adults and older young people.

These ideas can be helpful for practicing both written and verbal skills, as well as introducing new vocabulary around the subject of love and relationships.

For something a little different, try this unique activity from LessonStream, in which students have to piece together a narrative based around a marriage proposal gone wrong or opt for help with making Valentine's Day cards and researching the fascinating history of the holiday from the FluentU English Educator Blog.

Your full February resources:
•    English for Asia - Valentine's ESL lesson ideas
•    LessonStream - marriage proposal lesson
•    FluentU English Educator Blog - Valentine's resources


Key dates:

March 1st: First day of Spring
March 17th: St. Patrick's Day

After a long, cold winter, spring has finally sprung and its time to look forward to brighter days, warmer weather, and lots of exciting new topics that you can introduce into your ESOL lessons.

Spring-themed ESOL resources

What with all the flowers blooming, sun shining, birds chirping and butterflies fluttering by, there are lots of reasons to be joyful come spring time. So don't be too surprised if both you and your students have a song in your heart come March.

Looking for the perfect way to incorporate a little music into your ESL lessons? The Springtime! Springtime! game from One Stop English incorporates a song with interactive elements to add a certain sense of bright and breezy joy to your spring-themed lessons.

Prefer to reserve your singing exclusively for the shower? ESOL courses have plenty of puzzles, games, and worksheets set at various levels of difficulty, making it the ideal place to find age-appropriate resources for both children and adult learners.

For younger children especially, ISL Collective has lots of colorful worksheets with quizzes, games like Spring Pictionary and exercises aplenty.

St. Patrick's Day

Sunday, March 17th is St. Patrick's Day, celebrating the Patron Saint of Ireland.

While you may have to go all the way to the end of the rainbow to find a pot of gold, you don't have to go quite so far to find some engaging St. Patrick's Day ESL resources.

TeachingEnglish offers a lesson with a range of interactive activities which not only focusses on Ireland's national day but also presents an opportunity for students to talk about traditions and holidays from their own country.

This 60-90 minute lesson is mainly aimed at older, more advanced students, though if you're teaching younger learners, the activities and worksheets provided by Busy Teacher may be more fitting.

Elsewhere, there's an engaging reading comprehension exercise on the history and customs of St. Patrick's Day provided by LearnEnglish which can be suitable for both intermediate and advanced learners.

Your full March resources:



Key dates:

April 19th: Good Friday
April 21st: Easter Sunday

Ah, Easter. The annual springtime holiday presents lots of different opportunities to plan engaging ESOL lessons, whether that's focussing on the Christian story of Jesus or opting for a lighter approach with talk about springtime, the Easter Bunny and, of course, those delicious chocolate Easter eggs.

However you plan on structuring your Easter ESL lessons, there are lots of resources out there to help you.

For younger learners, ESL Kids Stuff has a dedicated Easter lesson plan with flash cards, classroom reader, and even a song. If that isn't enough, the site also offers lots of creative craft projects, game ideas and more.

For students of all ages, the FluentU English Educator Blog has some inspiring ideas for Easter lessons based on both the religious background of the holiday as well as the more secular side of things.

Elsewhere, ESL Flow offers useful tools to help with reading skills and vocabulary building that are themed around the traditions and customs of the Easter holiday.

Your full April resources:



Key dates:

May 5th: Cinco De Mayo

May 12th: Mother's Day

May 27th: Memorial Day


As we move towards the summer, May presents us with a packed month of occasions which all make ideal material for your ESOL lessons.

Cinco De Mayo

May 5th is Cinco De Mayo, an event of historical significance in Mexico which is held to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory against France at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. In the United States, however, Cinco De Mayo is often used to celebrate all aspects of Mexican-American culture.

For a full list of Cinco De Mayo resources, see our recent blog: Ten Unique Events That Make for Perfect Themed ESOL Lessons.


Mother's Day

The highlight of the month, for many of us, is Mother's Day, a day when we give thanks and honor moms, grandmothers, and all those strong, female role models who had such a big influence on our lives.

Celebrated on Sunday, May 12th, Mother's Day creates the perfect opportunity to engage students in conversations about the family, with a particular focus on the names of female relatives such as moms, grans, sisters, and aunts.

As you might expect, there's a lot of resources out there to help you with this.

For fun and informal learning, look to ESOL Courses for their array of puzzles and games aimed at both beginners and advanced learners.

You could use these games as a warm-up to the full lesson plan on Mother's Day customs offered by American English, or, for younger learners, use the fun and colorful worksheets over at Twinkl.


Memorial Day

Held on the last Monday in May in honor of those who lost their lives serving their country, Memorial Day may be a somber occasion in spirit, but it does present us with a unique learning opportunity for our students.

ESL site Henry4School offers an extensive list of interactive games and exercises, complete lesson plans and additional resources all based around Memorial Day and should be your first port-of-call for this particular lesson.

Need something more?

We're big fans of the free Memorial Day lesson plan offered by Teaching House.


Your full May resources



Key dates:

June 21st: Start of Summer


Yes, it's here at last. We don't know about you, but summer is our favorite time of year here at Two Sigmas. It's a time for lots of sunshine, barbeques, water parks, and general good cheer.

Of course, for many of us, it's also a time to take off and enjoy a well-earned break after a long and rewarding year spent teaching. Yet if you're still in you're working with your ESL students online this summer, here's a whole host of resources you can use to bring the summer fun into your lessons.

First up, those helpful folk over at Busy Teacher have been true to their name. They've been super busy compiling this bumper list of 103 different ESL activities and lesson plans with a summer theme. Suitable for learners of all ages and abilities, there's everything from interactive games and listening comprehension to exercises for practicing vocabulary and more.

As if all of that wasn't enough, head on over to Teaching Community, where you'll find even more activities aimed at beginner to intermediate learners. The discussion exercises around vacations should be more than enough to get students excitedly talking about their plans for the summer.

Finally, take a look at FluentU, who have helpfully put together a selection of resources aimed at learners of different levels. For beginners, there's a host of summer vocabulary exercises to use, while intermediate users will get more out of the activities designed to teach summer-related verbs. For advanced users, there's a number of opportunities to use their imagination and practice their writing skills by describing what they'd do if they lived near the beach, had a million dollars, or could go anywhere in the world.


Your full June resources:



Key dates:

July 4th: Independence Day


It's the one you've all been waiting for: The day we light those fireworks, spend time with our loved ones and celebrate American Independence right at the height of summer.

While nobody expects you to be teaching on July 4th itself, in the run-up to the big day there are lots of opportunities to help your students improve their English while learning about the history, tradition, and customs of everyone's favorite summer holiday.

Start with Bright Hub Education for fun activities to help students learn about the background of Independence Day and the history behind it. The activities here will also prove invaluable for learning new vocabulary and practice their speaking and listening skills.

From there, head to Kris Wingo's ESL Teaching Blog. Kris has a number of good ideas for discussion topics, writing prompts and ways to use the holiday to practice saying numbers and dates. We particularly like the prompt "How is your nation’s national holiday similar to or different from the Fourth of July?" - a great topic to help students practice their written or spoken English.

You'll also find a full July 4th ESOL lesson plan over at English Baby and an enjoyable, interactive vocabulary test at Learn English Feel Good.


Your full July resources:



Key dates: 

August 8th: International Cat Day

August 12th: International Youth Day

August 29th: National Sports Day (India)


Summer may be slowly drawing to an end, but not before the month of August comes along with a number of unique events that are just perfect for getting students talking about different aspects of modern life. From pets to past times, it's all happening this month, and we can't wait to show you the different ways you can engage students throughout August.


International Cat Day

Yes, it's a real thing. August 8th marks International Cat Day, established in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

As cute as the idea may be, we think the day can be a great starting point to introduce new vocabulary about pets and animals, as well as improving writing, listening and speaking skills.

Let's start with ESL Kids Stuff and their enjoyable Pets & Possessions lesson plan which also includes free worksheets, flashcards, song downloads and more.

For older learners, the 45-minute Pet Crazy lesson plan offered by Lingua House may be more suitable, as well the highly-engaging Pet Mania plan from the British Council.


International Youth Day

An annual awareness day created by the United Nations, International Youth Day focusses on the achievements of teenagers and young people, as well as raising awareness of global issues.

TES suggests a number of ideas on how the day can be used to facilitate discussion, with role plays and worksheets that can prove helpful in encouraging students to improve writing and speaking skills.

Elsewhere, the ever-useful ESL Holiday has a complete English Lesson on International Youth Day with quizzes, gap-fills, and other engaging exercises.


National Sports Day

Every summer, India celebrates National Sports Day to honor Major Dhyan Chand Singh, a successful Olympic hockey player. The day is commemorated with a range of sporting events and awards-presentations throughout India. While this can be a great opportunity for those tutoring ESL students from India, it can also be used as a starting point to introduce the subject of sport in general.

For this one, head to One Stop English who have the biggest list of sports-themed ESL resources we've seen, though Teach-This certainly isn't far behind.


Your full August resources



Key dates:

September 23rd: First Day of Fall


The leaves change color, children head back to school, and there's the unmistakable aroma of pumpkin spice in the air. Yes, fall is upon us once again, making September the perfect time to get students excited learning all about the season.

To start with, we love Megan Lee's 7 Fall Activities to Swoon Over published on Premier TEFL. Activities like "My Perfect Fall Day" and the Holiday Extravaganza are favorites of ours, but we're sure you'll find something your students will love too.

If not, you can also head to Busy Teacher, who helpfully categorize their fall-activities into those suitable for younger and older learners. Or why not try out the range of ESL fall lesson plans on ESL Library.


Your full September resources:



Key dates:

October 31st - Halloween


Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, oh my!

That's right, it's time to put on those costumes, tell scary stories and celebrate all things spooky as Halloween rolls around once again.

Looking for some ESL resources that won't frighten your students this October?

Look no further:

One Stop English should be your first spot for fiendishly fun Halloween activities, including the use of age-appropriate horror movies to practice speaking, listening and using new vocabulary, as well as a thoroughly compelling Halloween web quest.

Afterward head to ESL Flow for more useful resources to teach Halloween vocabulary, before heading to ESL Library for a whole cauldron full of Halloween lesson plans and activities.

Speaking of activities, it wouldn't be a holiday without all kinds of wicked and wonderful worksheets from ISL Collective.


Your full October resources:



Key dates:

November 28th: Thanksgiving


You've got your turkey, you've got your pumpkin pie, and you've even got those extra-comfy sweatpants with the expandable waist for after the big meal, but have you got your Thanksgiving ESL lessons ready?

If not, don't panic. This year, we're thankful to the following sites for providing us with all the resources we need to help students practice their English while learning about the annual holiday:

ESOL Courses lists a veritable feast of activities for learners at all levels. Beginners will enjoy improving their grammar and vocabulary with a number of fun games, while intermediate and advanced users can try their hand at interactive quizzes, listening exercises, and worksheets.

If you're looking for more resources to teach beginners, Everything ESL has just the thing, with a complete Thanksgiving Lesson Plan that is every bit as entertaining as it is informative.

For upper-intermediate students, check out Heads Up English, for a really good listening exercise based on the history of the holiday.


Your full November resources:



Key dates:

December 21st: First day of winter

December 25th: Christmas Day


It's time to wrap up warm, deck the halls, and get those letters off to Santa as December rolls around once again.

This month, we've got you covered with our ultimate guide to Christmas resources and lesson plans for ESL teachers, while a whole host of blogs and websites are on hand with all the activities you need around the theme of winter.

For younger students, we start with the delightful array of winter-based activities at Education World, before moving to Lingua House for a 30-minute lesson plan designed to introduce older and advanced students to winter-related vocabulary.

From there, stop and chat with Megan Lee, whose list of 9 ESL Activities for the Winter Season over at Premier TEFL offers a host of fun suggestions for those times when you're winding down towards the end of the year.

Finally, check out Teacher Planet for more winter lesson plans, worksheets, listening exercises, and printables.


Your full December resources:


Will you be teaching any of the themes on our calendar in 2019? Did we miss out any of your favorite annual events? Let us know in the comments below

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