This topic is dynamite! I love it because it is something that affects all of us on a daily basis and we constantly are trying to resist the temptation to buy or pay for an experience that is being advertised to us. You can combine this lesson theme with my original consumerism lesson idea or the ethical consumerism lesson idea.

Now more than ever, it seems wherever we turn, including our phones and computers, there is something being sold to us, so why not make a lesson about it?

This lesson is a framework for teachers to use and build on. It is meant for young adults, possibly teenagers and of course any adults. If your English is intermediate or better you can handle this subject but might be limited by the descriptive vocabulary you can use. However, this lesson introduces you to some of that. Teachers be aware, if your students are intermediate then don’t introduce too much. You can find more on this subject on my ESL Trailblazer episode on this.ESL Trailblazer episode on this.

Quote to start: ‘Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century’ – Marshal McLuhan

It’s advisable that you find some examples of ads for this lesson.

Introduce the topic with the quote and project a collage of your example ads on the projector. Get students to discuss to what extent they agree with the quote and why.


  1. Ask students to discuss how often they see an ad and the effect it has on them?
  2. Is advertising only useful for companies? what about individuals?
  3. How can individuals use marketing nowadays to promote a message, brand or campaign(needs pre-teaching)?

Pick a handful of the words from the vocabulary section below, and make sure students understand them. Then ask them to discuss in pairs how they generally feel about advertising by using the words. Here’s a great lesson idea on behaviour that supplements the theme in this lesson.

Introduce or brainstorm vocabulary related to marketing, there are vocabulary words below worth covering in class. You can do this with a table of categories:

Type, description, verbs, marketing tools etc. You can divide between online and the rest(types) and negative or positive attributes (words to describe advertising)


Words to describe advertising:

Irritating       Persuasive         Disappointing          Distracting    Ubiquitous

Convincing       Compelling        Repetitive          Invasive       Unavoidable

Catchy         Effective         Slick        Infuriating  Disturbing

Types of advertising (brainstorm with students some of them):

User-generated ads           Affiliation ads           Recommended ads          Sponsored ads

Product placement (movies)            Cinema       Billboards             Public Transport

Word of mouth          Leaflets          Newspapers/Magazines         Posters

Synonyms for ‘way’ and words describing the affect advertising has on us.

These are two separate categories of words, one being the synonyms that can be used in many contexts and the other being words commonly associated with how we are affected by the ads that we are exposed to daily and frequently. Again, language common in many contexts so incredibly useful.

You can find these on the ESL Trailblazer episode on this subject.


Do you think that advertising practices described below are acceptable? Are there any types of advertisement that you find offensive?

  1.  Using children in advertisements
  2. Using nudity in advertisements
  3. Promoting alcohol on TV
  4. Comparing products to your competitors’ products

Which of the following statements do you agree with?

  1. People remember advertisements not products
  2. advertising raises prices
  3. advertising has had a bad influence on children.

Questions to ask at any part of the lesson you deem appropriate:

Are you influenced by advertising? Why(not)? Describe a time you bought something because of an ad.

If advertising doesn’t work why do brands spend money on it?

Reading and Listening ideas

Here’s a 60 second clip of the history of advertising:

This video is quite fast to do proper listening comprehension with but you can use it as a starting off point for your lesson so students can get an idea of the evolution of advertising. If they are younger this will help them discuss the topic more.

Here’s a text on effective ad campaigns by forbes magazine

The ad campaign text can be done as a jigsaw reading because it’s broken into paragraphs one ad campaign. A lot of great language and straightforward. Students can then share why the ad campaign was effective to others in their group. Highlight some of the ideas and language in the texts for students to remember and then ask them to discuss if they can think of similar examples that they know of in their country.


Here’s a scan of a reading from an English course book on sponsorship. You can adapt it to suit your needs but is yet another element of advertising that is relevant and worth exploring with students.

Enjoy the content? You can find many more lesson ideas here as well as videos on my YouTube channel for free.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Rebecca Corina
    August 11, 2019 12:18

    Thank you so much!! Great lesson plan with extra materials. Very much appreciated 🙂

    • Hey Rebecca,
      You’re welcome and glad you find it helpful. Let me know if you have nay questions regarding the ideas. Good luck with the lesson


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