ESL Lesson Plan: Relative Pronouns (no preparation)

This is an activity I like to use when teaching relative pronouns. It can be adapted to any age group or level just by changing the difficulty of the examples and expectations of the students. The best part is it requires NO materials or preparation and is great when you need to come up with a lesson quickly.



I usually start this lesson by walking into the classroom looking confused. I say to the students, “I FORGOT!” then, “What’s that woman called who teaches math and has three daughters and is really nice?” at which time they’ll name the teacher. Then I’ll shout again, “I FORGOT!” What’s that place called where you can quickly go inside and buy snacks or drinks but it’s not a supermarket?” (mini mart) … again, “I FORGOT!” by the third time they should be shouting “I FORGOT” with you and laughing along at your silliness. Use as many examples as you’d like to get the students excited about the lesson.


Present the language on the board. I personally stay away from concerning about the difference between “whom” and “who” as it just confuses them at this stage (unless it’s an advanced class). The important thing is that they know when to use who, where, which, and that. Explain the grammar rules briefly and the function and then move on to some board examples. Here you can have them correct incorrect sentences or even make some of their own.

Now have the students pair up or work in small groups. Give them some categories like, famous cities, food, musicians, historical figures, athletes, monuments/landmarks, etc. They should come up with about 5 from each category. Tell the students to prepare short descriptions of each of these items. For advanced classes they don’t need to write anything down they can just start the game.

Separate the class into teams however you like. If it’s a large class you can have entire rows compete or if it’s a small class they can be with partners or alone. This obviously depends on specific class situations.

Now, have them compete with each other by asking and answering questions.


MICHAEL JACKSON – What’s the name of the musician who died in 2009 and could do the moon walk?
SASHIMI – What’s the name of that Japanese food that’s raw fish? More specific than sushi!

Encourage students to come up with challenging questions. In beginner classes I’ll award 1 point if they can answer the question in their local language and 2 points if they can say the English word. This makes it so even students will less vocabulary can still get points and feel included.


It’s really simple, easy and a lot of fun for the students. Hope it helps!

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