The good old days (life in the ’90s)

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talking about the past


In this lesson about life in the ‘90s, students watch two ads and practise talking about the past. They also compare life in different decades and plan a ‘90s themed party. 

B1 / Intermediate
B2 / Upper Intermediate
45 min
60 min
Speaking ClassUnlimited Plan

This is a Speaking Class worksheet. It includes a variety of tasks that let your students practise their speaking skills. This lesson format does not focus on grammar or vocabulary. Learn more about it here.


In the warm-up activity, students look at some words and phrases (e.g. great music, plastic, simplicity) and choose two that say something about life in the ‘90s. They need to explain their choices. The teacher can encourage the students to tell what life stage they were at in the ‘90s, e.g. were children or started work. Students also study a language box to see how one can talk about different decades in English. Then, students watch the two ads and discuss some questions. They say whether they recognise the products and how the ads are different from today’s ads. Next, students look at some pictures presenting technologies and solutions used in the ‘90s. They need to say what their experience with them is. The pictures include a floppy disk, a compact camera and film, Walkman and cassette tapes, etc. The task is an opportunity for students to practise talking about the past. 


In the next task, students look at a list of TV shows from the ‘90s and discuss some questions. For instance, they say whether the TV shows had any influence on them. The worksheet also contains a link to a list of other ‘90s titles. The teacher can use the link if students don’t know the TV shows listed in the worksheet. Then, students compare the 1990s and the 2020s using some prompts. For example, they compare the values people had in the ‘90s with the values people have now. This task is another opportunity for students to practise talking about the past. Then, students read some statements and pick those that explain how they feel about the ‘90s. Finally, students imagine that they are throwing a 1990s-themed party. They need to consider some questions and plan what they will serve and the activities they will do (e.g. watch MTV, create mix tapes, do step aerobics, etc).




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Leave a Reply

  1. Nichola_W

    I love it! Can’t wait to use this with some of my students 🙂

    1. Ewa

      Great! Hope you and your students have a fun conversation 🙂

  2. nadlam

    this lesson is a huge hit, thanks so much for making it 🙂

    1. Ewa

      Thanks, happy to hear that!

  3. Katerina Tsiplacis

    Absolutely fantastic! loved it!

    1. Ewa

      Thanks, Katerina 🙂

  4. Filippo La Porta

    Great worksheets! 😀

    1. Ewa

      Thank you, Filippo!

  5. Caroline Koshimura

    Awesome lesson, my students loved it!

    1. Ewa

      That’s great to hear! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  6. Soul Blind

    This is a great lesson!
    I have one suggestion for these speaking lessons. I understand they do not have grammar or vocabulary activities, just speaking, however I’d really like you to include 1 slide with exercises on helpful language students can use for each speaking task. Provide suggestions of helpful language for the speaking tasks.

    Students can use the the useful language just if they want to; it’s nor a required language, it’s not target language, it’s not the main aim of the lesson for students to use the vocabulary or phrases; it’s just giving them tools. That way, I guess, students might feel that they’re better at speaking than they were before they came to class. Anyway, if one doesn’t think it’s a good idea to go through the exercises with useful language in class, the professor can just skip the slides.

    1. Stan

      Thanks for the feedback and the suggestion! I think it could be a nice improvement to the Speaking Class and so we will definitely consider it.

  7. Anna R.

    I used a modified version of this lesson with three different small groups today and it went over very well! Each pair came up with different experiences, opinions, and ideas. It was interesting to see that even though some of the learners were younger and born in the 90s, they still had opinions and experiences to share regarding the 90s, especially about TV programs.

    I love ESL Brains speaking lessons! They really give learners the space to bring their own ideas and experiences into the lessons, and provide focussed opportunities for personally meaningful emergent vocabulary to come out.

    1. Ewa

      Hi Anna! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 It’s lovely to hear that the lessons were a success. I’m also glad that the students born in the 90s had things to share – I suppose the 90s might still be trending. And as a big believer in the power of emergent language, I am happy that our Speaking Classes are useful for those who want to work with it 🙂


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