Teaching The Passive Voice: An Introductory Lesson

As a native English speaker, I find that teaching the passive voice is quite difficult. For one thing, using the passive voice in English is so common that it is used in conversations daily. Many native speakers can hardly tell when they use the active or passive voice. Of course, this makes it even more difficult for English learners to understand the difference between passive and active sentences. That is why Off2Class has created a lesson plan for teachers to use with ESL students

When to start teaching the passive voice

This lesson is the first in a series of ten lessons about the passive voice. These ten lessons are great for helping students grasp this difficult concept. With that being said, you should avoid using this lesson with beginner students. Instead, it is great for pre-Intermediate students but can also be used with intermediate learners for a review. To teach this lesson most effectively, I recommend that you download a free Off2Class account so you can access the accompanying Teacher Notes. These Teacher Notes will help you teach the concepts clearly while asking for information from students. All in all, Teacher Notes make the Off2Class lesson plans even better than they already are!

Download the free lesson plan below:

What students will learn in this lesson

In this lesson, students will learn to identify the passive vs. active voice. To practice doing so they will compare active and passive sentences with the same meanings. They will also learn to form sentences using the passive voice. This helps students to understand the differences between the passive and active voices in English. 

In addition, the student(s) will learn to identify the subject and object in a sentence. This will help them complete activities throughout the lessons. Finally, they will learn how to use “by” in passive sentences. With help and encouragement from you, your student(s) will grasp a new concept and have fun doing it.

Tips for teaching the passive voice to ESL students

This lesson is designed to incorporate speaking, listening, reading, vocabulary and grammar practice. Since introducing the passive to ESL students can be difficult, make sure you remain patient while teaching. To teach more effectively,  be sure to refer to the given teacher notes.

In any case, ask students questions to help them retain new information. This will allow you to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses throughout the lesson. 

Finally, we use the past participle in passive constructions so if your student has challenges consider reviewing the Present Perfect Simple lessons in our Verbs- Simple Category. 

If you want to access more lessons on this concept, download a free Off2Class account. Also, leave a comment below and let us know how you liked this lesson. Happy teaching!


  • Niamh says:

    November 23, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Hi there!

    Thanks for making these free resources available, it is appreciated very much. I am just writing because my download for this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Unfortunately, when I click the link sent by email it shows ‘page not found’. I wonder is it possible to send another link or attachment? Thanks again.

    • Christine Chan says:

      May 25, 2023 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Niamh, thank you for letting us know! The issue should be resolved now.

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