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Recycling | ESL/EFL Lesson Plan

Level: Intermediate
Topic: Recycling
Aim of the lesson: Practice speaking in the context of recycling
Length of the lesson: 45 minutes


Lead-in (5 minutes)

Have you ever heard the word “recycling”? What does it mean? What are you thinking of when you hear it?
Are you good at recycling?
What things do you throw away that you think should be recycled?

Reading (15 minutes)

Recycling is the process of turning used waste and materials into new products. This prevents potentially useful materials from being wasted as well as reducing energy use and pollution.
A wide variety of different materials can be recycled, including paper, plastic, glass, metal, textiles, and electronic equipment. The idea of recycling isn’t something new, historical evidence shows that humans have been recycling various materials for thousands of years.
There are different methods of waste collection. These include drop off centers (where waste materials are dropped off at a specified location), buy back centers (where certain materials are exchanged for money), and curbside collection (where recycling vehicles are used to pick up waste material intended for recycling along residential streets). Powerful magnets are used to sort through different types of metals.
Recycling old aluminum uses only 5% of the energy used to make new aluminum. Aluminum can be recycled from cans, bicycles, computers, cookware, wires, cars, planes, and other sources.
Glass recycling is often separated into colors because glass keeps its color after recycling. For every ton of recycled glass turned into new products, 315 kilograms of extra carbon dioxide that would have been released during the creation of new glass are saved.
  1. Read the text and underline the unknown vocabulary.
  2. Read the paragraph again and answer the questions by marking the correct answer with “C”.

What does recycling do?
Burn waste effectively
Transform waste into new products (C)
Collect waste and re-sell it

Why is recycling useful?
Save space
Save money and time
Save energy (C)

What materials can be recycled?
Food and water
Plastic, metal, glass, paper (C)
None of the above

How many methods of waste collection are presented in the text?
Three (C)

Why recycling aluminum is good for environment?
Because it saves energy (C)
Because there is not much aluminum left on the Earth
Because aluminum is expensive

Why recycling glass is good for environment?
Recycling glass is much cheaper
Recycling glass can produce different types of colored glass
Recycling glass release less carbon dioxide than creating new glass (C)

Speaking (15 minutes)

How does recycling benefit the planet?
Should recycling in your country be mandatory for everybody?
“Only educated people recycle ...”; What do you think about this statement? Justify your answer.
Do your neighbors recycle things?
Do you think schools should teach more about recycling?
What are your feelings towards the recycling of nuclear waste?
What do you think of the idea of water recycled from sewage?
Should there be a reward system for people who recycle things?
Which is better, recycling or buying only the things we really need?
Do you think recycling is here to stay or will we go back to a disposable goods lifestyle?
Will you try to recycle more in the future?



Spend 5 minutes to introduce to learners the topic of the lesson by asking a few questions related to the topic.

In some Asian countries recycling (collecting the waste that can be recycled) is made by so called “low class” people with the aim of earning little money. You might be surprised to see that your teenager students know almost nothing about recycling.


Ask students to read the paragraph and underline the words they don’t know then ask them to write the words on the board. This is an important part of the lesson since they are going to use the vocabulary in speaking. Possible words on the board: reducing energy, pollution, waste collection, aluminum, carbon dioxide etc.

The lesson plan doesn’t treat the vocabulary part.

Ask students to read the paragraph again and answer the question (pair/group work). The questions are multiple-choice format. Tell students that only one answer is true.


This is a pair or group activity. Its purpose is to have student practicing speaking in the context of recycling. Students might have different opinions about how recycling should be done, and maybe what governments and schools should do to teach people more about recycling. This is a great opportunity to create a debate in small groups where students can practice the language. I will do this part as a fluency activity without interrupting students for corrections.

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