How to teach articles to your ESL students (2)

We have developed a set of eight lesson plans to help you teach the use of articles (a/an, the) to your students!

Our articles lesson plans (N11 – Articles-A/An-The – 1 to 8) can be found under the Nouns section of our library.
As experienced ESL teachers, we have all heard students ask us, ‘why is the used with United Kingdom and not with Britain or Scotland?’. The problem with this question is that the answer is quite complex! That’s why we’ve developed eight lesson plans covering the different uses of articles across as many different scenarios that we could think of.

In this post we’ll take a look at our lesson #3 – 5. The first part of our teaching articles post can be found here, where we examine our first two lessons.

Lesson 3: N11.3 – Articles/A-An-The – 3

By lesson three of our articles series we assume that your student has grasped the basic rules around the use of a/an and the, for general and specific nouns as well as some specific rules around articles (e.g. the cinema, a beautiful cat).
In lesson three we discover more special uses of the and expressions that don’t take the:

  • Using the with words such as top, middle, bottom, end, start
  • Using the with nouns such as the army, the navy, the police
  • Not using the with expressions when we are referring to places in general (she is in hospital)

We continue to provide a significant amount of exercises to help your students distinguish between the use of nouns with and without the.
articles articles

Lesson 4: N11.4 – Articles/A-An-The – 4

In our fourth articles lesson we provide a focus on the distinction between general ideas/things (without the) and specific ideas/things (with the)It is not always clear whether nouns are being talked about in a general or specific sense, so we give your students a framework to help them identify whether using the is appropriate or not. We also highlight that when we are talking about nouns in general, we use the plural form of countable nouns:
articles articles

Lesson 5: N11.5 – Articles/A-An-The – 5

In lesson five we examine a number of special uses for articles:

  • The or a/an with musical instruments (e.g. she plays the clarinet, and bought a clarinet last night)
  • The + an adjective, to describe a group of people (e.g. the poor or the rich)
  • The + a nationality (e.g. the French) to describe nationalities in general

Since we touch upon nationalities with the use of the, we also take the opportunity to introduce the concept of country vs. nationality, and provide examples for some large countries:
articles articles

Have you had an opportunity to teach our articles lesson plans? Let us know!


  • Nasiba says:

    May 21, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks to your wonderful advice and method on teching articles. I found it very beneficial. Especially, various photos attracted me a lot. I strongly beileve that if we use these methods with our own students it will be helpful for them to study articles easily and use them in appropriate ways.
    I have a question that isn’t it boring to teach the three articles in 5 lessons? Aren’t you interested in finding more interesting ways to teach the articles? As soon as you find them I hope you will share your information with us.

  • Gulruh says:

    May 21, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    I have found your article very important and beneficial for both students and teachers. Most students who are learning English are having troubles with articles nowadays. And your 5 lessons gave me motivation to learn them deeply than ever. All of us know that articles are among the most important features in English grammar. So thanks for your information and I will look forward to hear from you further methods for learning and teaching grammar.

  • Nur Hamizah says:

    August 11, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you. May I have the permission to use this as my class activity? I am a trainee teacher.

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      August 12, 2018 at 7:14 am

      Hi Nur,
      Yes you’re welcome to use this blog post for your teacher training!

      • Nur Hamizah says:

        August 12, 2018 at 7:18 am


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