ESL Advanced Lesson
Abraham Lincoln

This ESL advanced lesson is based on a video produced by the History Channel about the life of Abraham Lincoln, it includes vocabulary, gist and detail listening, an information share reading exercise and revision of the past perfect.

In order to do this lesson, you will need to find a copy of the documentary on the internet. The total length of video is just over 1 hour and 29 minutes, although the lesson only uses the first 12 minutes. The documentary starts with the words "April 1865, a country barely recovering from death....'

You is a free downloadable printout of this lesson at the bottom of the page.


Give the students the following quotes by Lincoln. Get them to guess who the quotes are by. If they don’t know, give them 3 yes/no questions each, to try and work out who it is. Once they know who it is, get them to speak for a few minutes each on their quote, expressing whether they agree or disagree and substantiating why.

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.


Ask the students for any information they know about Lincoln. Here are some key facts that you can add if necessary:

NAME: Abraham Lincoln

OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Lawyer, U.S. President, U.S. Representative

BIRTH DATE: February 12, 1809

DEATH DATE: April 15, 1865

Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler: He was defeated only once in about 300 matches, and is enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.

PLACE OF BIRTH: Hodgenville, Kentucky

PLACE OF DEATH: Washington, D.C.

NICKNAME: Honest Abe

NICKNAME: The Great Emancipator

Pre-teach Vocabulary

There is a list of vocabulary in the Detail Listening section below, teach the words to the students before they watch the video.

Gist Listening

Get the students to watch the first 12 minutes of the documentary ‘Abraham Lincoln’, made by the History Channel (the total video is 1 hour 29 minutes long), and then discuss the following questions:

  1. Describe Lincoln’s early life.
  2. What personal characteristics and circumstances in his early life led to his success?

Detail Listening

Get the students to listen to the 12 minutes again, and to listen out for the following words. They need to listen for the context of the words, and what they are referring to. In the teacher's Notes printout at the bottom of the page you will find an indication of the time in the video when the word appears, and an explanation of the context.

















Reading - Information Share
ESL Advanced Lesson

Cut out the reading from the Teacher's Notes below, or alternatively you will find them at, Distribute the different points around the class. Get the students to read their section, and then take turns sharing with the rest of the class what they have learnt.

Past Perfect

For this ESL Advanced Lesson you will need to make sure the students understand how to construct past perfect sentences, and when they are used. Get the students to place the points from the above reading in chronological order. As they do this, get them to make sentences in the Past Perfect e.g. Edwin Booth had saved Lincoln’s son from being crushed by a train before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

Free Downloadable Lesson Plan

If you enjoyed this lesson, why don't you try some of my Reading LessonsGrammar Lessons or Business English Lessons.

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