Is Marriage Outdated? — a Talking Points lesson plan for reading & speaking

Is marriage coming to an end?

Many people these days are choosing not to marry. What will the outcome be?

This is a great topic to use in your English class. For many students in certain countries, the concept of marriage is firmly ingrained in their culture. There is no question that they will get married.

Raising questions about marriage is bound to create lots of discussion in your English class. Download the complete lesson plan and use it today by clicking the link down below.





Do you want to get married?

Are there people in your country who do not wish to get married? What do people think of them?

What do you think about gay marriage? Or polyamory?




From when we are young, we grow up believing in the institution of marriage. We see the concept of marriage everywhere we look — in films, on TV, in books and in fairy tales we read as young children.

Our parents often are married, as are their parents before them. Marriage becomes something that is cast in stone. Reliable, believable and something that every living person does in their life.

But these days, many people are now turning their backs on marriage. They are saying it is an outdated idea and that it is impossible for two people to remain married and still be happy.

If we look at the rates of divorce, it is hard to disagree. In some countries, the divorce rate is over 80%. That seems like an unbelievable number of people are getting divorced. What went wrong between them to cause it?

Now people say that you don’t need to get married to prove that you love someone. A marriage certificate is only a piece of paper. It is not a declaration of love — or is it?

People also say they can commit to another person in life and tell each other they will stay with each other for life, without the need to get married. Some people argue that if you want to have children, then it is better to bring the children up in a married relationship. But again, these days many people have children without being married. So is it really necessary?

Then there are the new concepts of modern relationships.

Take, for example, the custom of polyamory. This means that a person may have a loving, caring relationship with more than one person. There are many cases of three people living together, that love each other equally, and have a stable, happy relationship.

In the eyes of the law, all three cannot be married to each other. So they just live together and make a commitment to stay together.

There are also gay people in the world. These days in some countries, gay people can get married now, but for years it was illegal for gay people to be gay at all. In some very traditional countries, it is still illegal and far from allowing gay people to get married to each other. But if they love each other, what is the problem?

We live in a rapidly changing world and the ideas that surround love, marriage and relationships with each other are also changing.

More traditional-minded people argue that criticism of marriage is an attack on the traditional family. While others say that families can still happily exist without the archaic formalities of marriage.

Marriage is just a piece of paper these days and nothing else. People today say that love will always exist and that is far more important than wedding vows and the ceremony of marriage and all that surrounds it.


Essential Vocabulary




fairy tales

cast in stone






eyes of the law






Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebooka small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when studying.

“I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”




  1. What do you think? Is marriage outdated? Tell the class about your opinions.
  1. Do people in your country get married for love? Or some other reasons?
  1. Will you get married in the future? Why/why not?
  1. Is marriage still regarded as a good tradition in your culture? Tell the class the reasons for this.
  1. Is the divorce rate rising in your country? If so, what are the reasons for this?
  1. Divorce rates are high in western countries. What are the reasons for this do you think?
  1. Is marriage ‘just a piece of paper’? What do you think?
  1. Is it possible for people to stay together without getting married? How?
  1. What do you think of the custom of polyamory? Is it acceptable in your country?
  1. What do you think of gay marriage? Is it acceptable? Give your reasons.
  1. What makes a happy marriage? Provide ten points as a class to give advice.


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2 thoughts on “Is Marriage Outdated? — a Talking Points lesson plan for reading & speaking”

  1. This question varies greatly from culture to culture. Where I have taught, free union is out of the question and even illegal. In other countries arranged marriages work beautifully (with very low divorce rate). And polygamy could be a great option for people if it is permitted in the culture.

    But for long standing and legal reasons marriage is ingrained in humans who seek to be in a committed union with a partner especially if they are to have children. Marriage is the basis of the family unit and provides a subtle level of more solid commitment and responsibility to the union.

    Finally, even if it is old fashioned couples dream of the ceremony where family and friends can share in the commitment to the union of marriage.

    1. Many thanks Leona! I think because marriage is seen very differently in different cultures, it could be a very useful topic to bring up in an ESL class. It could create so much discussion and debate as it is viewed in different ways.

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