Lesson Plan for present tense of to be and professions

16 Mar SAV No Comments

Present Tense To Be + Professions ‘I’m a…teacher

Use this lesson plan with individuals or groups, online or in class.

Preparation: Choose six professions that appeal to your pupils. You might prefer to teach realistic, down-to-earth jobs our pupils may do one day, like a plumber, hairdresser, secretary, lawyer, real estate agent or nurse. Or you might be happy to let kids dream, choosing amazing or glamorous jobs, like astronaut, singer, actor, footballer, artist, or vet. As teacher, you decide, or ask your class to vote on six favourites.

Pictures: Now you have your six professions, let’s learn them by heart in English. First you need a picture of each one. Your pupils can draw these and send them to you in advance of the lesson or you can easily find pics online that fit the bill.

ESL Online Games book

Introduce six new words with mimes Show a picture of one of the professions, say the word ‘plumber,’ ‘he’s a plumber’; ‘ plumber’ Ask kids for ideas for a mime that would fit the job of a plumber and get everyone to do that mime. Show the second profession and repeat the process. Show the plumber and elicit the mime, then move to the third profession, establish the mime for that. Do pic one, two and three with the three mimes. Now do picture four, establish the mime, and show jobs 1,2,3, and 4. Move on to jobs five and six in the same way. Build gradually, repeat and reinforce. There is no point showing all six pictures and assuming that kids will remember them all just like that. Using the mime to enhance the meaning helps kids recognize, understand, and integrate the new word. 

Now the new words have been introduced, step up the pace with a second listening game – Jump the Line. Show the pictures on screen left and right of a line. Call them randomly using the short phrase ‘he’s an actor’ she’s a vet, he’s a gardener, and so on. This way you are continuing to reinforce the new vocab while introducing the verb to be in the present tense. Kids put out an arm indicating which side of the line the picture is on. Jump about in the list, get faster and faster, go job A, job B, job A, job B, job A, job B, job C! You’ll catch loads of kids out all the while repeating the new vocabulary over and over.

Play Picture Flashcards where you flash pictures fast in front of the camera, sometimes hiding part of the picture. Play around with the speed you flash the cards. You don’t want it to be too easy or there’s no game element. Pupils call out the professions. When students hesitate, show that profession more often, mixed in with the others, until you have drilled all six well.

Play Blow your house down in teams. The question each time is; What is he? Or What is she? Show a picture of a profession. The team reply with ‘he’s a …..’ They have to get all six right in a row or their house is blown down and they go back to zero. This game works fine with individuals too.

Every other game in this plan works for private ESL tutoring except for this one, which is for groups of six pupils and upwards: Play One Lemon but use professions instead. This game can take some practise the first time you use it. Do a demonstration with six students and then split the class into groups. Use breakout rooms if you are online. Each player has a profession. To allocate these, read each student’s name and say a profession. The student concerned repeats their profession back to you and makes a note of it. This way, you are sure everyone has got their profession and that they are participating. Start with:

‘One plumber, half a plumber, calls three painters.’ Immediately, the painter student says: ‘Three painters, half a painter, calls five astronauts .’ And so on. A rule is that all the professions must be called before the plumber can be called again.

Play Boggle: make a boggle with the professions inside and have pupils race in teams to find as many English words as they can. Every profession word found can earn double points. Boggles are usually 4 x 4 but bigger ones are easier. This boggle has these professions hidden in it, along with a multitude of other English words, plumber, painter, astronaut, nurse, vet, and artist.







Play a chanting game with rhythms. This is for the whole class, on or off line. Since you are teaching ‘to be’ and professions, make a rhyme such as this: I’m a plumber, you’re a painter, he’s a singer, she’s a waiter.

Have everyone say this and clap together on the pronoun. I’m a plumber, you’re a painter, he’s a singer, she’s a waiter. Do this a few times, it should be quite easy. Now try this rhythm where you clap on every third syllable. Display the sentence with the bold so kids can see where they are to clap. Expect to take a few attempts before they get this rhythm going.

I’m a plum-ber you’re a – paint-er he’s – a singer – she’s a wait-er

Finally, use this rhythm, where the “I’m a plumber you’re a” takes the same time as “paint-er”.

I’m a plumber you’re a| paint -er | he’s a singer she’s a | wait -er

This exercize is fun to do, involves repetition and is a huge aid to fluency. Once you have worked through those rhythms it will be super easy for your class to say “I’m a painter” without hesitating. In addition they will have drilled “I’m a, you’re a, he’s a and she’s a.”


Next I'd put kids in groups and have each group mime one of the professions while the other teams race to guess what job they are doing - calling out "you are painters!"


If you are doing writing and spelling then play spell and act. You spell one of the professions and the class mime the job. You can make that a team game and give forfeits for the losing team if you like. Forfeits are silly things like singing a song, miming a cat, naming a picture flashcard, or drawing something.


Finally play Mastermind with pupils in pairs. If you are online then put kids in breakout rooms with use of the annotation tools. If you don't want to give your group use of the annotation tools then you can't use this. If you are teaching online one on one then you can manage the tools, but I prefer to let my pupils use the tools because it involves them in the lesson more.

How to play

One player is the code maker, the other the codebreaker. The code maker chooses a pattern of four words. Duplicates are allowed, so the player could even choose the same four words, but this tends to be easy to guess. Blanks are allowed in the classic mastermind game, but not in my spelling version. The code maker writes down the four words in a specific order.

The codebreaker tries to guess the pattern, of both the word and the order, within thirteen turns. Each guess is made by writing the words on the decoding board. Once a row is done, the code maker provides feedback by copying and pasting coloured circles over the white ones. A red circle indicates a correct word in the right place, but it does not reveal which word or position is right. A yellow circle indicates a correct word in the wrong place.

Once feedback is provided, another guess is made; guesses and feedback continue to alternate until the codebreaker guesses correctly or all rows are full. Use Mastermind for any grammar, so here you can use it for to be and jobs.

You get a template with my book of ESL Online Games.

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