Overcoming Fears

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Franklin D Roosevelt (1882 – 1945), 32nd American president
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This free ESL lesson plan on overcoming fears 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.

Different things trigger a sense of fear in different people. Children are typically afraid of the dark or the monster that surely lives under their bed. Adults overcome these childhood fears, only to replace them with new fears such as social acceptance or speaking in public. Some people have irrational fears of things that couldn’t possibly cause them harm like buttons or clowns. Other fears, such as a fear of spiders or snakes, are a little more logical. Either way, our fears very often prevent us from doing what we want to do, so overcoming them is a challenge we have to face sooner or later. In this ESL lesson plan on overcoming fears, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as common fears and the best ways to overcome them.

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):

Very Well Mind | How to Face Your Fears

The article gives a number of pieces of advice for people wanting to overcome their fears, including evaluating risks, seeking the help of a therapist, and deciding whether to avoid or confront a fear. 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 “Tips On How To Overcome Fear Of Flying” by Todaywhich looks at a number thing people can do on a plane if they experience turbulence to overcome their fear of flying.


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 children are typically afraid of, how the students feel when they see something scary, and whether there is a connection between fears and prejudices.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with overcoming fears such as to come with something, dread and nightmare. 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 overcoming fears. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as their own experiences overcoming fears, why we fear the unknown, and fears when speaking in English.


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