Murder on the Orient Express ESL Lesson Plan [Free PDF]


The Murder on the Orient Express ESL Lesson Plan introduces students to the classic murder mystery genre while providing an opportunity to practice English language skills. This topic is engaging and captivating for students, allowing them to enhance their vocabulary, reading, writing, and critical thinking abilities. The lesson plan is designed to spark students’ interest in learning English through a thrilling storyline, encouraging active participation and language development. Students will have the chance to explore new vocabulary and expressions in context while unraveling the mystery within a supportive classroom environment.

Vocabulary Building


The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
A person thought to be guilty of a crime or offense.
The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.
A detective who follows a series of clues to solve a mystery.
A person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place.

Contextual Usage

– The police found the evidence at the crime scene.
– The sleuth carefully examined the clues to solve the case.
– The witness provided crucial information about what happened that night.

ESL Warm-up Activity

Introduce the lesson by setting the scene, asking students to imagine they are on board the luxurious Orient Express train. Encourage them to describe in English what they see from their “train window,” using descriptive language to evoke a sense of mystery and anticipation. This activity will not only spark students’ creativity and imagination but also set the tone for the Murder on the Orient Express ESL Lesson Plan, immersing them in a captivating and engaging environment related to the lesson’s theme.

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Main ESL Lesson Activities

Vocabulary Activity: Crime Scene Clues

Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with a set of vocabulary cards related to crime and investigation. Instruct the students to match each word with its corresponding definition. Encourage them to discuss and collaborate within their groups, promoting active participation and understanding of the vocabulary in context.

Listening Exercise: Witness Testimonies

Play recorded witness testimonies related to a mystery or crime. After listening, have students work in pairs to summarize what they heard, focusing on key details and important information. Then, facilitate a class discussion where students can share their summaries and interpret the testimonies.

Roleplay: Detective Interrogation

Assign roles such as detective, suspect, witness, and bystander to different students. Encourage them to act out an interrogation scene using the vocabulary they have learned. This interactive roleplay activity will help students practice language fluency in realistic scenarios while engaging in meaningful conversations.

Reading and Writing Task: Case Analysis

Provide a short mystery story for the students to read individually or in pairs. Then, ask them to write a brief analysis of the case including key suspects, motives, alibis, and evidence. This activity will enhance reading comprehension skills while allowing students to apply their knowledge of investigative vocabulary in a practical context.

ESL Homework Assignment

Encourage students to continue their engagement with the murder mystery theme by assigning them the task of writing their own short mystery story or creating a detective-themed vocabulary scrapbook. Additionally, they can watch a classic murder mystery movie or TV series with English subtitles to further immerse themselves in the genre while practicing listening and comprehension skills. These tasks will reinforce the lesson content and extend students’ learning beyond the classroom, promoting independent language practice and creative expression.

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The Murder on the Orient Express ESL Lesson Plan delves into the fascinating world of mystery and investigation, providing students with a captivating platform to enhance their English language skills.

Reflective Prompt

Students are encouraged to reflect on the vocabulary they have acquired, as well as the listening, speaking, and writing activities they engaged in during the lesson. They should consider how these skills can be applied not only to understanding mystery narratives but also to real-life situations that require effective communication and comprehension in English.

Why this topic is great for ESL learning

The Murder on the Orient Express ESL Lesson Plan provides a compelling and immersive learning experience for ESL students. It offers an intriguing subject matter that captures students’ attention, making learning both enjoyable and effective.

This topic encourages language development through the use of captivating narratives, promoting vocabulary expansion, critical thinking, and communication skills. The mystery theme creates a dynamic environment for language practice where students engage with varied language elements in context.