esl writing lessons infer

Teaching English: How to Make Inferences

Students struggle in the ESL class to express complex ideas and critical thoughts because they don’t know, in part, how to make inferences. This collection of mini lessons for intermediate+ students tackles that barrier to progress.

Lesson Overview


  • maybe 50 minutes or more depending on how a teacher expands or contracts the mini problem based tasks


  • define infer
  • name three thinking questions that help construct inferences
  • analyze data by grouping activities in a puzzle according to one criterion
  • demonstrate an ability to make and explain a logical inference based on existing information

Skills Focus

  • reading, speaking and listening through a melody of techniques
  • includes pair work problem based tasks and short teacher talks
  • add writing components easily

Get the full lesson along with worksheets, answer keys and teacher notes (and 19 other lessons) in my ebook: Teach Writing Thinkingly

Activity 1: Inferences about a House


A student walks home after school. The student is standing in front of the house at 4:30pm. Mom usually gets home from work at 5pm and Dad usually gets home after 7pm. The lights inside the house are on.

There are no other people in the family. What can we infer?

Prepare an answer by working through these thinking questions:

  • What are the facts?
  • What do we already know?
  • What conclusion can we make?

esl lessons writing

Activity 2: Inferences about an Animal

This activity is based on a video called Yellowbook Commercial Dog Eats Bird.


Watch a short video and then answer one question: what happened to the bird?

Before answering that key question, move through these thinking questions:

  • What are the facts?
  • What do we already know?
  • What conclusion can we make?

Activity 3: Inferences about People


There are nine children alone in a house. Each child is doing something. Read the clues and answer the question: what is Hana doing?


Here is what eight kids are doing:

  1. Andy is ironing some white shirts.
  2. Bill is cooking rice and chicken for dinner in the kitchen.
  3. Carol is watching an action movie on TV.
  4. Danny is playing chess near the window.
  5. Eddy is taking a shower in the second floor bathroom.
  6. Faye is watching a video on the computer.
  7. Gloria is sleeping in her bedroom.
  8. Ian is studying English at his desk.

Teach writing and critical thinking skills

This ESL activity comes from my ebook Teach Writing Thinkingly. It contains 20 lessons with two broad aims. The first part of the ebook presents creative writing activities with learning outcomes designed to help students improve composition style and organisation. The second part contains lessons that teach specific language skills that help students write and evaluate arguments. Click HERE for details.ESL writing lessons

Teach writing?

Here’s another ebook resource for writing teachers. Teach Essential Writing Skills. Transform the quality of EFL student writing by focusing on four essential skills. Click here for details about the ebook that should be part of every writing teacher’s resource library.


Save time. Teach well.

Got an ESL speaking class? Cut your lesson prep time with this colossal collection of ESL resources that stimulate language learning and critical thinking. Simplify your lesson planning because teaching should be a joy, not a chore.


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