Sounder ESL Lesson Plan [Free PDF]


The Sounder ESL Lesson Plan introduces students to essential language skills through the captivating story of a young boy and his dog in the rural South. This lesson plan aims to improve students’ English language proficiency by focusing on vocabulary building, comprehension, and critical thinking. “Sounder” provides an opportunity for ESL learners to explore themes such as resilience, empathy, and social justice while honing their language skills. Through this lesson, students will not only enhance their English language abilities but also gain valuable insights into human experiences in different cultural contexts.

Vocabulary Building


A system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on the land.
The enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.
A dog, especially a breed used for hunting.
An informal usage of opossum, referring to the nocturnal marsupials found in America.
Unpleasantly rough or jarring to the senses; severe

Contextual Usage

1. The novel depicts the struggles faced by families involved in sharecropping during the Great Depression era.
2. The theme of segregation is evident as the protagonist navigates through an unjust and discriminatory society.
3. Sounder is portrayed as a loyal and intelligent hound throughout the story.
4. The characters encounter an ‘possum while exploring their surroundings in one scene.
5. The harsh living conditions are vividly described, evoking empathy from readers towards the characters’ plight.

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ESL Warm-up Activity

To set the tone for the Sounder ESL lesson, begin with a thought-provoking discussion about the themes of loyalty and perseverance. Present a scenario where students are asked to reflect on experiences where they have shown loyalty or encountered acts of loyalty from others. Encourage students to share their thoughts using descriptive language and elaborate on their personal anecdotes, fostering an atmosphere that aligns with the central themes found in “Sounder.” This warm-up activity not only captivates students’ attention but also primes them for the lesson’s content while providing an opportunity to practice language elements related to emotions and relationships.

Main ESL Lesson Activities

Vocabulary Building Activity: Word Collage

Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with a set of vocabulary words from the story. Instruct the students to create a collage using the words, along with related images cut from magazines or printed from online sources. After creating their collages, each group presents their work to the class, explaining how the visuals represent the meanings of the chosen words.

Listening Activity: Sounder’s Soundtrack

Guide students in listening to sound clips that evoke emotions similar to those experienced by characters in “Sounder.” Afterward, initiate a discussion about how different sounds can convey meaning and emotion. Then, have students work in pairs to create their own soundtracks for key scenes in the novel. Encourage them to select appropriate sounds and explain their choices based on character emotions or story events.

Roleplay Activity: Character Interviews

Assign each student a character from “Sounder” and have them prepare questions based on what they think their character’s experiences were like. Students then pair up and take turns interviewing each other in-character, responding as if they were actually that character. This activity encourages empathy for diverse perspectives while providing an opportunity for language practice through dialogue.

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Reading and Writing Activity: Alternate Endings

After reading specific chapters of “Sounder,” have students work individually or in pairs to write alternate endings for those sections. Encourage creativity while highlighting comprehension of plot developments and characters’ perspectives through written expression.

ESL Homework Assignment

For homework, students are tasked with writing a reflective journal entry on a theme or character from “Sounder” that resonated with them the most. Encourage them to provide specific examples from the text to support their reflections and to express thoughts on how the story’s themes relate to real-life experiences. This assignment reinforces reading comprehension, critical thinking, and written expression skills while fostering a deeper connection with the literature studied in class.



The Sounder ESL Lesson Plan offers a comprehensive exploration of vocabulary, listening, roleplay, and reading activities to enhance language skills while delving into the profound themes depicted in the novel.


As students conclude this lesson, take a moment to reflect on how “Sounder” has not only expanded their language skills but also provided valuable insights into empathy, resilience, and social issues. Encourage them to consider how the lessons learned from the story can be applied in their language development and daily communication.

Why this topic is great for ESL learning

The Sounder ESL lesson plan is an exceptional choice for English language learning due to its rich vocabulary, thought-provoking themes, and opportunities for diverse language skill development. The novel’s engaging narrative provides a platform for students to explore complex emotions, social issues, and historical contexts while sharpening their language abilities. Additionally, the story’s themes of resilience and empathy resonate with learners from various cultural backgrounds, fostering inclusive discussions that enrich the ESL classroom experience.

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