A Day in the Life of a NYC Shoe Shiner

General English, Speaking Lessons
Life Choices
B1 Intermediate
Present Simple, Articles
Grammar, Speaking, Vocabulary
Lesson ID
Lesson Time
45 minutes
A Day in the Life of a NYC Shoe Shiner | ESL Lesson Plan Intermediate Students

Lesson Description

Would you rather work a nine-to-five job or various odd jobs? In this lesson, students will discuss various jobs and work routines. This lesson features a video of the daily life of a shoe shiner in New York City. Students will learn and practice the simple present tense, articles, and vocabulary relating to this topic. The lesson includes plenty of engaging discussion activities and worksheets that have been developed for adults and teenagers

Lesson Objectives

  • To discuss various jobs and work routines

  • To learn and review the simple present tense and articles

  • To develop speaking and listening skills

  • To learn and use new vocabulary relating to the topic


The video shows the story of Don Ward, a shoe shiner from New York City. Don has been shining shoes in Manhattan for 18 years. He sets up camp in Midtown on the corner of 47th and 6th and makes a living by insulting strangers. “You can do better than that!” “Smile, you’re on dirty show camera!” “Lemme put a smile on those shoes.”

Video Transcript

Vocabulary and Pronunciation

one-liner [noun]: a short statement, often a funny remark
chef [noun]: a professional cook
pastry [noun]: dough that is used to make sweet baked goods, e.g., pies
downtime [noun]: a time when you are not working or busy
trainee [noun]: someone who is being trained for a particular job
give something a shot [idiom]: to attempt to do something
chill / chill out [verb]: to relax
hone [verb]: to improve something
Other materials you may be interested in