Returning to work after a vacation

Lesson plan overview

This upper-intermediate video-based lesson plan is great to work on right after a holiday. It will encourage your students to talk about going back to work after a vacation, their feelings and motivation, as well as tips on how to make the transition from holiday mode to work mode smoother. The worksheet also features a few great idioms and expressions related to returning to work after a vacation.
Speaking: The lesson starts with a few conversation questions about vacations and why they are necessary. Then, students are given a few adjectives and are asked to discuss how they usually feel on their first day of work after a vacation (e.g. refreshed, anxious, eager to start, overwhelmed). Next, students brainstorm possible challenges people face when returning to work after taking time off.
Vocabulary: Students learn interesting idioms and expressions (e.g. post-vacation slump, post-vacation fatigue, back to the grind, hit the ground running, get back into the swing of things) by looking at 5 opinions. After matching the expressions to their definitions, students discuss which opinions they can relate to and why.
Speaking: 2 activities that focus on speaking follow. First, students brainstorm different things that people should do before, during, and after a holiday to ensure a smooth transition back to work. Then they discuss which is the better option in 7 situations (e.g. to completely unplug or to occasionally check emails and messages).
Listening: Students watch a video called “Getting over your post-vacation slump” and complete 2 activities. After that they engage in a post-listening discussion.
Speaking: Students are given a role-play scenario which they need to prepare, incorporating some of the expressions and idioms from the lesson.
Vocabulary review: Finally, students take a look at a sample dialogue (similar to the one they are asked to create in the previous activity) and fill the gaps with the correct expression.
To review the target vocabulary from this lesson, you can use the set of conversation cards which features 12 discussion questions, each including a word or expression from this lesson.

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Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.

Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

But, going back to work is inevitable. That thought alone makes your stomach churn.
Make a to-do list with everything you know you need to do and prioritize what needs to be done.
Going into full work mode without any breaks is a recipe for a burnout.

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

Additional resources

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