The happiest countries in the world

Lesson plan overview

This ESL lesson is about the happiest countries in the world and the factors that influence the overall well-being and life satisfaction of people. It can be used both as general and business English worksheet, as it introduces important economic terms. It will work well in combinations with the following worksheets: “Phrasal verbs: happiness and well-being”, and “Idioms: positivity, optimism and hope”.

Speaking: The lesson starts with 6 discussion questions about happiness and well-being. 

Speaking and reading: Students brainstorm different factors that influence happiness and then read a text about The World Happiness Report and the factors taken in consideration to create the ranking. After that students discuss which 10 countries they think would be at the top and the bottom of the list and why.

Vocabulary: Students complete common expressions and economic terms used when talking about life satisfaction (life expectancy, community engagement, safety net, purchasing power, welfare programs, parental leave, universal healthcare). Then they use the expressions to complete 8 questions and discuss the questions in pairs or small groups.

Listening: Students watch a video “Happiest countries in the world: explained”, which is broken down into 3 parts. For each part of the video, students complete a different task. In a post-listening discussion, students talk about what they learned from the video.

Vocabulary review: Students are given 6 sentences and they need to choose the correct word to complete them.

Speaking: Finally, students are asked to choose 3 countries and compare them using different indicators.

The conversation cards can be used for vocabulary review and speaking practice.

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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:

Can you measure happiness?
One thing is clear, different cultures have different ideas of what it means to thrive.
Investments in health care, education, sustainability, and biodiversity have helped Costa Ricans flourish.
Across cultures, we know that physical health and vitality are the most important metrics for well-being.

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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