This page is a complete ‘can can’t’ lesson plan to teach beginner ESL students how to talk about their abilities. The lesson begins with a fun animation video to warm up and introduce the topic of abilities. Next, students practice the keywords and expressions and play the four corners game. Then, in pairs, students will talk about their abilities while playing a printable board game. Finally, students will walk around the class and talk about what they can / can’t do while playing a fun speaking activity.
The games and activities in this ESL lesson plan are mainly geared towards kids. However, the lesson plan can be easily adapted to teach older beginner English language learners. All the materials needed for the games and activities in this lesson plan are provided below. For more materials to teach about abilities using can and can’t, see the section at the bottom of the page.
Materials for this lesson:
- Flashcards – Can / Can’t
- Board Game – Can / Can’t
- Student Cards – Can / Can’t
- Can Can’t Intro Video – YouTube
Can Can’t Lesson Plan for Beginner ESL Students
Introduction and Warm Up
Before teaching students the keywords, it is important to put the lesson in context so students can understand what they will study. A great way to introduce the topic of abilities using can and can’t is with this fun animation video by Studycat Limited on YouTube. Show the video in class and ask students to guess what they will study today. Then ask students about their abilities and elicit some action verbs from the students. For example, ask students if they can run, fly, jump, swim, etc.
Drill Key Words And Sentences
Using these action verb flashcards drill the keywords by asking students to repeat after you. Then, drill the key expressions for the lesson. For example, ‘I can / can’t fly.’, ‘Can you swim?’, ‘Yes, I can.’ / No, I can’t.’. Once students have practiced enough, it’s time for a fun game to practice some more.
Activity 1: The Four Corner Game
The four corner game is a great classroom activity that can be used with any target language. For this lesson about abilities, place one of the action verb flashcards in each of the four corners of the classroom. Then, give students 5 seconds to move to one of the four corners.
While students are choosing their corner, write down one of the action verbs and don’t show the students. After 5 seconds, reveal which action verb you wrote down while using the target language. For example, you can say ‘I can (swim).’. The students who are in the ‘swim’ corner are out and must sit down. Then, give students 5 more seconds to move to another corner and write down another action verb. Repeat this until only one student is left. This student is the winner and can come to the front to choose the action verbs for the next game.
This game is a lot of fun, but can be a little dangerous if you have a large amount of students. To ensure this game runs smoothly, be sure to tell students not to run or push, and make sure there are no bags and other obstacles that students can trip up on.
Activity 2: Can / Can’t Board Game
This board game is best played in pairs and is designed to get students talking about their abilities using can and can’t. To play, each pair of students needs just one eraser and one pen. Students should take turns in flicking the eraser up the board game. If the eraser lands on an image, then the students should make a dialogue based on that image.
For example, if the eraser lands on ‘cook’ then one student would ask the other ‘Can you cook?’ and the other student would answer either ‘Yes, I can.’ or ‘No, I can’t.’ After making a dialogue, the student writes his/her name in that area and then its the other student’s turn to flick the eraser. At the end of the game, the student with the most areas is the winner.
Visit our printable board games page to download this game for other topics, or add your own words to an editable board game template.
Activity 3: Act It Out And Find Your Partner
For this final activity, print and cut out these can / can’t student cards. Give one card to each student and tell them not to show it to the other students. Then, students must find a partner with the same card. To do this, students can move around the classroom while acting out the action verb which is on their card.
For example, a student with the ‘jump’ card would jump around the class. Then if a student finds another student doing the same action, they can ask ‘Can you jump?’ and if they also have the ‘jump’ card they can answer ‘Yes, I can.’ Once students have found their partners, they can go to the teacher and show their cards.
This game is a lot of fun for kids and young learners who have lots of energy. To make it more fun, you can ask students to find 2, 3, or 4 partners.
Before finishing the class, review the key expressions from the lesson. Ask students to talk about their abilities with their partner and find 3 things they can and can’t do. Then ask students to share with the class what they can and can’t do.
More Resources To Teach Abilities Using Can / Can’t
- Can / Can’t Board Game 1
- Can / Can’t Board Game 2
- Can / Can’t Board Game 3
- Hidden Picture Game PPT
- Can / Can’t Grammar Games – British Council