Free EFL/ESL Lesson Plan: Using CSI TV Shows For Listening Skills and English Conversation


One of the problems with teaching EFL or ESL students listening skills is that many of the listening files available (online or on CD) are boring. So, to make my listening skills EFL and ESL classes more interesting I began to use TV shows and, CSI: Las Vegas in particular. My EFL/ESL students loved watching CSI: Las Vegas, they learned a lot of slang (which is the vocabulary they don’t usually know), and it also sparks lively conversation after the show. If your EFL/ESL students are bored with listening skills classes, follow this easy (and free!) lesson plan and they’ll show an increased interest in listening and conversation.

Expected Learning Outcome: Students will become more familiar with American accents, will learn more modern slang and will be able to participate in a discussion after the CSI: Las Vegas tv show about what they saw and learned.

Materials and Resources – Whiteboard markers, DVD: CSI: Las Vegas (with English subtitles and English soundtrack), and handout with slang vocabulary used in the show.

Teaching Procedures:

Step One : Before class, you should have watched the CSI: Las Vegas episode you’re choosing to show and made a note of any vocabulary your EFL/ESL students might not understand.

For this lesson plan, I chose the episode “Up in Smoke” from season six, in which a body is found in a chimney and the CSIs have to figure out who the body is as well as what happened to a missing girl.

In this episode, vocabulary like “post mortum”, ‘COD’ (Cause of Death), ‘lawyered up’ and ‘crispy’ were all vocabulary my students didn’t know. Type out all the possibly unknown vocabulary on a handout, give it to your students, and go through the handout explaining what every word means before starting to play the TV show. This makes it much easier for your students to understand what’s happening. (Of course, just pick out some vocabulary though – if you pick out everything they probably don’t know, you’ll have a vocab sheet that’s 50 pages long. The point here is just to teach them some new, and useful, vocab.)

Step Two – Give them a handout with approximately 10 questions about what’s happening on the show. I found with many of my students, if they don’t actively have questions to answer, they sometimes don’t listen as well. If they are lower level students, I will often pause the tv show right after the answer to a particular question so they know that is the answer I’m looking for and rewind and play again if they have problems. Go over questions before you start the show, so they know what answers they’re looking for.

Step Three – Play the TV show. I always play it with English subtitles and English soundtrack as I found if I just played it with English soundtrack and no subtitles it was almost impossible for them to understand, even the higher level students. I also stop it every few minutes so I can ask questions about what’s happening and explain anything they obviously won’t understand.

Step Four – Once the show is finished, go over the handout questions giving the correct answers and discussing them. (This part is interesting as it’s fascinating to see what bits of the show they completely misunderstood and which bits they did understand).

Step Five – To finish up the class, I always do a short 10-15 minute discussion about the show, what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they understood or didn’t, and what their opinions were. It’s always interesting to hear my EFL/ESL students’ opinions about the show (some find it very scary, if there’s lots of blood or autopsies), as well as hear what they think about American culture.

Evaluation/Assessment: 1. How well do students understand vocabulary in show. 2. How well do students understand what is happening. 3. Can students hold a discussion after the TV show.