The science of kindness

Lesson plan overview

This ESL lesson plan is centred around the topic of kindness. It is suitable for intermediate learners. Students will expand their vocabulary, learn useful phrases and discuss topics such as the benefits of kindness and gratitude. You can combine it with the following lessons: “Teamwork”, “Self-care”, “Thanksgiving”, “Phrasal verbs: happiness and well-being”, “Idioms: kindness“, “Idioms: forgiveness and acceptance”, “Idioms: positivity, optimism and hope”, “Idioms: empathy and compassion”.
Speaking: The lesson starts with a discussion of the topic of kindness. Students discuss 5 conversation questions given.
Vocabulary: Next, students work on word formation. They create either nouns or adjectives (e.g. caring, helpful, compassionate, considerate, supportive). After completing a table with the correct forms of the words, they work on a word formation activity. Next, students look into the difference between the words helpless and unhelpful and careless and uncaring.
Functional language: Students learn different expressions they can use to express gratitude and to respond to someone who has done something positive for us. To practise, they are given 7 situations in which to use a different expression.
Pre-listening vocabulary: In a short pre-listening vocabulary activity,students look at 5 sentences and choose the correct meaning of the expressions in bold (pay it forward, random acts of kindness, to give a hand, a chain reaction).
Speaking: In a pre-listening discussion, students look at a few photos and discuss various questions related to the photos and to the topic of kindness in general.
Listening: Students watch a video called “The science of kindness” and write down 3 benefits of kindness and 3 examples of acts of kindness.
Speaking: Students look at different situations in which a person might react in a king and in an unkind way and discuss what the different reactions might be, as well as how they would react in each situation. Finally, students discuss a few more questions related to kindness as a human quality and kindness in the workplace.
You can use the conversation cards to review and reinforce the target vocabulary 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:

For example, studies prove that gratitude can increase happiness, reduce depression, and strengthen resiliency.
Grateful people often experience reduced blood pressure, less chronic pain, increased energy, even longer lives.
Celebrate minor accomplishments.

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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