Seven ESL Lesson Plans to Teach Modal Verbs

In this post, we will discuss a number of different modal verbs and different lesson plans you can use to practice them with your ESL students. This post is a goldmine for ESL teachers, as there are 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 infinite of another verb (without the word to). Can, could and should are common modal verbs, but there are a number of them that you’ll go over with your students.

Seven ESL lesson plans to get started

These lesson plans are designed as introductions to these various modal verbs. 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 them!

Ability – Can and could

This lesson plan is designed for beginner students and it focuses on the use of can and can’t to discuss ability, possibility, and permissions. Students will practice both the positive and negative forms as well as question forms and short answers, which are common in spoken English. This lesson is a great introduction to modal verbs!

ESL ability can could

Download the lesson plan Ability – Can and could here

Probability – May, might and could

This lesson plan introduces the concept of possibility and probability. Students will practice using may,  might, and could in both positive and negative forms. This is an introductory lesson plan that is great for beginner level students!

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 talks about formal and informal ways to use these specific modal verbs. This is a great lesson plan for pre-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.

Download the lesson plan Necessity – Must and have to here

Advisability – Should

Designed for pre-intermediate ESL students, this lesson plan talks about the use of should and shouldn’t for suggestions, duty, responsibility and expectation. Students will also practice question forms and using should for expectations. 

Download the lesson plan Advisability – Should here

Expectations – Be Supposed to

This lesson introduces the idea of expectation using be supposed to. Intermediate-level students will practice using this form 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, such as “Let’s…” or “Why don’t…?” It is full of useful phrases and activities for intermediate-level students.

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 a welcome addition to any ESL classroom! All of Off2Class’ s lesson plans are perfect for in-person or online teaching.

Sign up for your FREE Off2Class teacher account to take your lesson even further. You can access the helpful teacher notes and homework assignments to complete your lesson plan! Don’t forget to check out our ESL Lesson Plan Library! Here you’ll find hundreds of ESL lesson plans suitable for every level and ability. Leave the hard work to Off2Class – 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!


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