I’ve been teaching ESL for about ten years, and in that time I’ve come across good textbooks and bad ones. However, very few of them have ever covered the topic of computers (or, for that matter, the internet) adequately.

The problem is pretty obvious: half the textbooks your school gives you are going to be between two and twenty years old. They’re already horribly out of date. If they cover computers, they’ll introduce words like “floppy disk” and phrases like “surf the net” that no one uses anymore.

To teach computer-related language, you really need to do the work yourself or find some up-to-date material online. I’ve put together a PPT that introduces the different parts of a computer for my intermediate-level students, although you could easily tailor it for pre-intermediate by altering a few slides.

Here it is:


Lesson Plan

I begin the lesson with a picture, which I give my students 1-2 mins to discuss in pairs:

I have them talk about it, drawing attention to what the computer can do, and then introduce the next activity:


1. How have computers changed in the last twenty years?

2. How will they change in the next twenty years?

3. What do people mostly use computers for?

4. How have computers changed our lives?

5. What dangers do computers pose to our lives?

After that, I show them this video and talk about it:

Then we use the above PPT to learn the essential computer vocabulary.

After that, I will test the students’ listening skills by having them do these questions:


Watch the video about computer prices and answer the following questions:

1. What can you do with a $200-300 computer?

2. How much money would a hobbyist gamer pay for a new computer?

3. What’s the least you would have to pay to buy an entry level MacBook?

4. How much would a professional graphic designer need to spend?

For this video:

Finally, I have the students do a roleplay, where one needs to buy a computer and the other will be the salesperson.