A Day in the Life of a NYC Shoe Shiner

Author of the Lesson   Theresa I February 15, 2021
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 Overview

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

  • Grammar: Learners will delve into the use of the simple present tense and articles (a, an, the). They'll practice forming sentences that describe daily routines and work responsibilities, focusing on correct article usage before nouns and the structure of sentences in the present simple for habitual actions.

  • Listening: Students will enhance their listening skills by engaging with a video depicting the daily routine of a shoe shiner in New York City. This activity aims to improve their understanding of spoken English in real-life contexts, focusing on job-related vocabulary and the speaker's attitude towards work.

  • Speaking: Participants will engage in discussions about various jobs, work routines, and personal opinions related to the theme. They'll have the opportunity to describe hypothetical job situations, express preferences about work environments, and debate the value of different types of jobs, thereby improving their fluency and conversational English.

  • Vocabulary: This lesson introduces vocabulary related to daily routines, job descriptions, and expressions of frequency (e.g., "every day," "usually," "never"). Examples from the lesson include job titles such as "shoe shiner," "dishwasher," "waitress," and phrases used in work contexts like "look for a job," "give somebody the boot," and "know the ropes."

  • Homework: The homework tasks for this lesson are crafted to enhance the learning objectives through a range of exercises. Students will engage in matching job titles with descriptions, associating sentences with their meanings within a work context, correcting sentences that have incorrect uses of articles and the simple present tense, and completing texts with the appropriate prepositions related to work environments. These activities are designed to solidify the students' understanding of the grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension skills addressed in the lesson, fostering their ability to apply these concepts in real-world settings outside the classroom.


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