High School Graduation

Stefanie Simmons - reviewer of the lesson   Stefanie I May 06, 2022
General English, Speaking Lessons
B2 Upper-Intermediate, C1 Advanced
Mixed Grammar
Speaking, Vocabulary, Listening
Lesson ID
Lesson Time
30 minutes
Illustration from an ESL lesson plan depicting students traditions related to high school graduation time in the U.S.

Lesson Overview

Congratulations class of 2019! In this lesson, students will learn about the different activities and traditions that take place around graduation time. Students will listen to a high school valedictorian give a graduation speech and learn and practice vocabulary and idioms relating to the topic. The lesson activities and worksheets have been developed for adults and teenagers.

Lesson Objectives

  • Grammar: Students will review mixed grammar structures in the context of high school graduation traditions. They will practice phrases like "pass with flying colors" and "drop out" and learn how to use these idioms correctly. They will also unscramble words to complete sentences, reinforcing their understanding of grammar and vocabulary.

  • Listening: Students will listen to a high school valedictorian's speech to improve their understanding of spoken English. They will identify the main message of the speech and answer comprehension questions to practice identifying key ideas and understanding vocabulary in context.

  • Speaking: Students will engage in discussions where they can share their own experiences or thoughts on graduation traditions. They will be able to provide their opinions on related topics.

  • Vocabulary: Students will expand their vocabulary related to graduation by learning terms like "cap and gown," "valedictorian," "tassel," and "diploma." They will also unscramble words and use vocabulary terms in discussions, reinforcing their understanding through practical application.

  • Cultural Awareness: The lesson will explore graduation customs like "turning the tassel" and "throwing caps in the air." Students will discuss the differences between their country's graduation traditions and those in the U.S., promoting cross-cultural understanding.

  • Homework: Students will complete tasks that reinforce vocabulary and concepts learned in the lesson. They will unscramble words to finish sentences, think critically about various graduation scenarios, and justify their preferences between different graduation activities. The homework aims to deepen students' understanding of graduation practices while improving their ability to express ideas clearly.


Listen to the audio of a valedictorian giving a speech at his high school graduation. Will the graduates continue with school and attend college, start working in a full-time job, or do something else entirely? The opportunities are endless for the graduation class of 2019!

Audio Transcript

Vocabulary and Pronunciation

class of [noun]: refers to the students graduating in a specific year
valedictorian [noun]: a student in North America who usually has the highest rank in a graduating class and delivers a speech at a graduation ceremony
graduation [noun]: the successful completion of a course of study at a school for which you receive a degree or diploma
the turning of the tassel [noun]: is a widely recognized tradition in which students move their tassels on their cap from the right to the left at graduation to signify the transition from student to graduate
cap and gown [noun]: a traditional outfit worn by graduates consisting of a hat and robe in school colors
diploma [noun]: a certificate awarded by an educational establishment to show that someone has successfully completed a course of study
tassel [noun]: loosely hanging threads or cords attached for decoration to a cap or other items
pass with flying colors [idiom]: means to pass something with a high score
drop out [phrasal verb]: means to stop attending school or some group or organization
alumni [noun]: the people who previously attended or graduated from a particular school, college, or university
put on one’s thinking cap [idiom]: to start thinking about what should be done
rite of passage [idiom]: a ceremony or ritual which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another to signify an important change
milestone [noun]: an important point in progress or development
daunting [adjective]: seeming difficult to deal with; intimidating
social norm [noun]: are the unwritten rules of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are considered acceptable in a particular social group or culture
play hooky [idiom]: an American saying that means to not go to school when you should
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