"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

Yoda, Jedi master
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This free ESL lesson plan on fear has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Fear is an emotional reaction to a perceived danger, whether that danger is real or not. It is one of the emotions that every person in the world experiences, even if the thing that causes fear differs from person to person. On the one hand, fear can cripple us, preventing us from doing certain things. On the other hand, fear can be exciting and thrilling, and many people actively seek these kinds of adrenaline rushes. Our ability to feel fear has its roots in evolution – those that didn’t feel fear weren’t able to identify threats to their survival and quickly went extinct. We are here today precisely because we feel fear. In this ESL lesson plan on fear, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as common fears people have, what the students are afraid of, and the purpose of fear.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

The Courier Mail | 10 strange phobias you might not have known existed

The article looks at some of the stranger phobias that people have, including nomophobia (a fear of not having your phone), deipnophobia (the fear dining conversations) and panophobia (the fear of everything). At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “Why Is Being Scared So Fun?” by TED Edwhich looks at the evolutionary reason we feel fear, and why it can so much be fun to be scared.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the scariest animals and people, scary situations, and whether being afraid is fun.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with fear such as shake like a leaf, scared stiff and to scare the living daylights out of someone. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about fear. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as thrill-seeking, horror movies, and extreme sports.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of fear. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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