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Famous People Lessons: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer, Internet access, projector, speakers (for class presentation)

Activity Description

This site offers in excess of 150 lessons/activities using biographies and profiles of famous people. For this activity we have chosen Martin Luther King, Jr., but if another famous person fits better with your goals/topic, feel free to select a different one. Each offers a transcript with an MP3 audio file for listening practice, and the following activities: a synonym match, a phrase match, a listening gap fill, a correct word choice, spelling, organizing the text, scrambled sentences, discussion, and writing. Reading level varies from Beg. High - Adv. ESL. There are also online activities to go with the lessons.


  1. Visit the site using the link to Example Web Site (above) to be sure it is not blocked at your school.
  2. Look for the "Downloads" navigation bar (it is currently green) and download the Word Doc or PDF and print the lesson activities for your students. Be sure to avoid the other "Download and Play Now" buttons that are part of the advertising on this site.
  3. Make sure you can play the MP3 files on the teacher computer and that the speakers are loud enough.


  1. Before introducing Martin Luther King, list some words that describe him on the board. Have students try to guess who it is.
  2. To activate background knowledge, have students discuss what they know about him in small groups. Lead a brief whole-class discussion.
  3. Ask the students to listen for something interesting about him. Play the MP3 and have students share an interesting fact they heard.
  4. Distribute the lesson activities and review the Synonym Match activity. Have the students listen again to the MP3 and see if they can match the words from the reading to the correct synonyms. Have students compare their answers in small groups.
  5. Review the Phrase Match activity, have students listen again to the MP3 and match the phrases from the reading. Have them compare their answers in small groups.
  6. Play the MP3 again and have students complete the Listening Gap Fill activity. Review the answers as a class.
  7. Play the MP3 again and have students complete the Choose the Correct Word activity. Review the answers as a class.
  8. Have students complete the Spelling, Put the Text Back Together, and Scrambled Sentences activities, referring to the the written text if needed.
  9. Have students find a partner and decide who is Student A and who is Student B. Have them discuss the questions provided for each student.
  10. Have students come up with five questions about Mr. King with their partner (or in small groups) and write these on their Survey. Have each student interview three classmates, write their classmates' responses, and then discuss these responses with their partner (or small group members).
  11. Have students write about Mr. King, show their partner their paper and correct each other's work.
  12. Assign one of the suggested homework assignments.

Teacher Tips

  • If you would like students to work independently, you can download the sound file to individual classroom computers and have them take notes as they listen to the podcast.
  • These podcasts are appropriate for Beg. High through Advanced level ESL students.
  • The first part of each podcast usually includes a short dialogue of some sort and then the second part has explanations of words and phrases and how they are used including formal and informal expressions. Dr. Jeff McQuillan, an ESL professor in So. California, is the host.
  • Your students can listen for free, and a script of the conversation is posted for reading, but if you want the complete teaching materials that go with it, there is a FEE.

More Ways

  • Use one of the many other Famous People Lessons in the same way you did this one, having students complete the already provided exercises.
  • After listening to several profiles, reading the information, and completing exercises, students can select a "famous person" of their own and create a profile as an individual project or as group project.
  • Let students create a PowerPoint noting the highlights of their famous person and have them present the PowerPoint in class.


  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (0.2) Communicate regarding personal information

Basic Communication

  • (2.7) Understand aspects of society and culture
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.