Happiness

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a month — get married. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”

Chinese Proverb
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on happiness 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.

Happiness can mean many things to many different people. For some people, happiness is family. For others, happiness is connected to experiences. Can money make you happy? Probably! What is certainly true is that happiness is strongly associated with good mental health and well-being. In this ESL lesson plan on happiness, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what makes them happy and what makes them unhappy.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for the International Day of Happiness, which takes place in March. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

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

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

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 Guardian | “Happiness depends on health and friends, not money, says new study”

The article refers to a study by the London School of Economics that found that happiness was more connected with our mental health than it was with money problems or poverty. 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 “Top 10 Happiest Countries in The World” by WatchMojo and looks at what makes some nationalities so happy.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

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 what happiness is, what made them happy this week and happy moments in life.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with happiness such as good mood/bad mood, down in the dumps and over the moon. 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 happiness. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether rich people are happier than poor people, the happiest and unhappiest nationalities and whether real happiness comes from making others happy.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of happiness. 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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