Seven ESL Lesson Plans to Teach Modal Verbs

In this post, I will discuss several different modal verbs and ways to practice them with your ESL students. This post is a goldmine for ESL teachers because it includes seven communicative lesson plans that are sure to please both you and your students. Continue reading to learn more about the lesson plans and how to use them in your ESL classroom.

What are modal verbs?

A modal verb is a type of verb that indicates likelihood, ability, requests, suggestions, or any other modality. Modal verbs are different from other verbs because they come before the infinitive of another verb (without the word to). Common modal verbs include can, could and should but there are many more of them that you’ll go over with your students.

Seven ESL lesson plans to get started

These lesson plans are designed for understanding various modal verbs in English. They are also wonderful resources if you need a quick review lesson for your students. Feel free to mix and match these lessons, using them in your daily warm-up activities. Students always benefit from review, so keep these lesson plans close by so you can refer to them whenever you need to.

Ability – Can and could

This lesson plan is a great introduction to modal verbs. It is designed for beginner students and focuses on the use of can and can’t to discuss ability, possibility and permissions. Throughout this lesson, students can practice both the positive and negative forms of can and could. In addition, students will study common questions and short answer prompts used in spoken English.

ESL ability can could

Download the lesson plan Ability – Can and could here:

Probability – May, might and could

This lesson plan is great for beginner students and introduces them to the concepts of possibility and probability. Your students can practice speaking, reading and listening while using may,  might and could in positive and negative forms. 

Download the lesson plan Probability – May, might and could here:

Requests – Would, could, can, may and might

This lesson plan focuses on using the subject I to ask for permission and make requests. As well, it covers using you as the subject to make polite requests. It also outlines formal and informal ways to use these specific modal verbs. This is a great lesson plan for you to use with pre-intermediate students and as a review for intermediate students. 

ESL Lesson plan requests

Download the lesson plan Requests – Would, could, can, may and might here:

Necessity – Must and have to

Designed for pre-intermediate students, this lesson plan introduces the concept of necessity using must and have to. It also features gap-fill exercises and activities that allow students to express opinions in English. 

Download the lesson plan Necessity – Must and have to here:

Advisability – Should

Also designed for pre-intermediate ESL students, this lesson plan guides teachers and students through the use of the modal verbs should and shouldn’t for suggestions, duties, responsibilities and/or expectations. Students will also practise forming questions and speak using should to express expectations. 

Download the lesson plan Advisability – Should here:

Expectations – Be Supposed to

In this lesson designed for intermediate level learners, students are taught ways to use be supposed to so that they can communicate expectations. In addition, students will practice using be supposed to in the present and past tenses.

Download the lesson plan Expectations – Be Supposed to here:

Suggestions – Let’s, why don’t, shall

This lesson plan discusses different forms to make suggestions in English. It contains useful phrases and activities for intermediate-level students to improve their speaking, writing and reading skills. 

ESL lesson plans suggestions

Download the lesson plan Suggestions – Let’s, why don’t, shall here:

More lesson plans?

These ESL lesson plans on modal verbs are an excellent addition to any ESL classroom, whether it is an in-person or virtual one!

Sign up for your free Off2Class teacher account to take your lessons to the next level. When you sign up, you will gain access to helpful teacher notes and homework assignments to send to your students after each lesson. Also, don’t forget to check out our ESL Lesson Plan Library where you’ll find hundreds of ESL lesson plans suitable for every level and ability. It’s okay to leave the hard work to Off2Class because we have you covered from step A to Z!

If you found these lesson plans helpful, don’t forget to share them and comment below. We love hearing from other ESL teachers like you!


  • Sylvia Hooks says:

    March 19, 2021 at 2:04 am

    I took all 6 lessons. Thank you so much. They are classically done and very scaffold. Thank you again. They are beautiful. Everyone should get them. You guys are great!

    • Chris says:

      March 19, 2021 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks Syliva, feel free to spread the word!

  • Efis says:

    January 13, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    thanks for sharing ^^ it’s really helpful !!!

    • Regan says:

      January 14, 2022 at 6:48 pm

      Thank you for using the lesson plan. What did you find most useful?

  • Janice S. Nidoy says:

    October 4, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you for granting my favor. More power. God bless!

  • Sujatha Thilakaratne says:

    November 18, 2023 at 8:00 am

    Thank you so much.its really helpful for us

    • Christine Chan says:

      November 24, 2023 at 10:43 am

      You’re very welcome, Sujatha!

  • Im says:

    February 1, 2024 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you 🙏🙏

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