Teaching the Verb “be” to ESL Students

Teaching the verb be to ESL students is exciting, but it can be a bit tricky too. Not only is it the most commonly used verb in the English language, it is irregular too! It’s important that students know this verb as soon as they start learning English and that teachers work hard to help them master it. Feeling the pressure? Don’t worry, you no longer have to! This easy-to-follow lesson plan will help you to teach the verb be with ease and impact. 

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This lesson introduces your students to the positive and negative forms of the verb. By the end of the class, your students will be forming simple sentences independently. Don’t forget to congratulate your students when they complete their first full sentence in English! It’s a big deal and they should feel accomplished. With your encouragement, they will be excited to learn more and will sign up for more classes with their favorite English teacher— you! 

When to teach the verb be

Many teachers are apprehensive to teach verbs and verb conjugations too soon, especially if they are irregular verbs. However, it is so important for new ESL students to understand how to use the verb be. When you teach your students to use the verb be correctly, they can speak about themselves and things around them. This is incredibly useful for students to move forward in their English journey. When finished this lesson, your students should be able to share their name, age, nationality and perhaps even more! As a result, your students will have the needed confidence to move forward.

Should I teach contractions too?

It is very important that ESL students are introduced to contractions earlier rather than later. Think about this—when was the last time you used the long form of a verb in everyday conversation? English speakers use contractions more often than not, especially in spoken conversation. The reason for this is because contractions are colloquial and easier to pronounce. English is ever-evolving – in some regions, people use contractions within other contractions, for example, “y’a’int”. Therefore, you would be doing your students a great disservice by not teaching contractions, so don’t skip over this part of the lesson.

Teaching the verb “to be”

This lesson is great for face-to-face or virtual classrooms. It is also suitable for groups or individual classes. Don’t forget to sign up for your free Off2Class account so you can assign homework for extra practice. With Off2Class, your students can use almost any screen enabled device to access homework and assessments. It is now easier than ever for ESL students to practice and progress.

If you found this ready-to-teach lesson plan helpful, check out the hundreds of other lessons available on Off2class.com. With a user-friendly lesson library, teacher notes and one-k homework assignments, lesson planning has never this simple and affective.

Did you find this post helpful? Share your ideas and feedback below. We love to hear from teachers like you!


  • Tai says:

    November 8, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    I am very thankful for this fantastic opportunity of being part of the lovely teacher community. I am an elementary teacher in Panama, a country in Central America. Resources are not easy to be accessed. I am so blessed and happy to be here!

    • Christine Chan says:

      November 18, 2022 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you for being a part of our community, Tai. We’re so glad to hear you’re enjoying the lesson content and blogs. Comments like these make our day!

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