A designer lessons ESL Lesson plan developed by George Chilton

Zombie escape. Teens, 14-17, mixed level. 2nd conditional.

If your school/office is following the rules it will have a fire exit plan in every room. It’s the kind of thing you’ll see on your hotel door, with a plan of all the exits, staircases, lifts and rooms. It also shows doors, windows, bathrooms. Yeah sure, it’s great for escaping danger – but also, it can be pretty good to use in your class too. I’m going to give you 5  fun, language and grammar rich ways to use these plans in your classes – some of which are for adults and some for teens.

Teens love planning their way out of a zombie-infested building. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t? This is Part One and focuses on a Zombie Apocalypse. Right here in your school, of course. Yes, I know, this lesson probably falls under that icky title – Edutainment, but there is plenty of grammar-juice in it too. So, if you want this to really work well, you’re going to have to act a little. Don’t be too convincing though. RADA trained teachers should probably be aware that kids do sometimes get scared.

There are plenty of trailers and video clips you can find on Youtube/Vimeo to liven things up, however I’ll leave that up to your best judgement, as every class is different.

Lesson aims:

  • To practise giving opinion
  • To practise presentation skills
  • To use the second conditional
  • To motivate teenagers
  • To leave the classroom environment

Stage one – warmer

Put your class in groups. Tell them that you have some bad news and that your expecting a phone call, which you have to answer as it’s a matter of life and death.


Example floor plan.

Example Teacher Script

Pick up your phone –

“In the school? How many? That’s terrible news! What shall I tell the students? Ok.  Ok…wait…hello? Hello?”

Put the phone down

“I have some bad news. Terrible news. The worst news. We’re going to have to work together – as a team. No, that’s not the bad news. This bad news is…there are Zombies in the school. Real Zombies – and we’re going to have to escape.  What do you know about Zombies?”

Now ask your students to call out the words and phrase they know that are connected to Zombies. Do they know any Zombie films or games? Do they believe in Zombies? Are they scared of Zombies? Why/not, etc.

Stage Two

Hand each group a copy of the school building plan and tell them they are going to use it to write an escape plan. Next give your students some language chunks to work with along the lines of:

I think we should / in my opinion /we have to/ we must /we could / let’s – etc, etc

  • Now ask them to plan their escape – the starting point will be in your classoom – the end point must be he exit door.
  • You could use this as an opportunity to revise ordinal numbers with your students. S’up to you.
  • You can also give them hindrances – if it’s too easy. e.g. Everyone in the building is a zombie, they can’t Door X, etc.
  • The must write their plans with a view to explaining their ideas to the rest of the class.

Stage Three

They should now, group by group, present their plans to the rest of the class. The groups must listen carefully – because they will vote for the best escape plan. They must remember, this is a matter of life and death and cannot vote for their own plan.

Hold a vote for the best plan. Use your judgement and right of veto to quash anything superhuman or impossible.

Stage Four

Try it! I don’t care what your Director says – it’s great to get the students out of the classroom. Instruct the winning group to lead the class through the school, following their suggest escape route. Students should watch out for Zombies and other dangers on the way. Keep them quiet by saying that Zombies are attracted to noise. Reflect on the route together; was it a good plan in reality? Would the students have survived?

Stage Five  – Follow up using the 2nd conditional

Bring the back to the classroom and get them to recap – the have planned and voted for a Zombie escape.

Now try to elicit the 2nd conditonal by asking them questions. I tend to write questions on the board to reinforce the required structure.

If + past simple / subject + would (‘d)  + infinitive

If I were surrounded by Zombies, I’d be terrified.

  • How would you feel if we were under Zombie attack?

    Brisbane Zombie Walk 2009

    A diffrent plan perhaps? Image by yinyang via Flickr

  • Would you try a different plan?
  • What would you use to protect yourself?
  • What objects would you need to survive?
  • Where would the safest place in the city be?
  • Who would you call first?

Ask your students to answer these questions or others of your choice in pairs, then follow-up with a writing, which you can mark later.Make sure you give model examples and ask them to answer in complete sentences giving reasons.

You might be able to do this exercise as a blog post or as a homework.

The students could also write a newspaper article describing the miraculaous escpae from the zombies.

They could write their own guide/poster / leaflet to surviving a Zombie attack (give them the header image for inspiration)

You’re limited only by your imagination (…and perhaps curriculum).

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Designer Lessons by George Chilton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.