Where do phobias come from?

Lesson plan overview

This ESL lesson plan for strong intermediate students deals with the topic of fear. Students learn and practise a lot of fear-related vocabulary and watch a video about phobias. You can combine this lesson with the worksheets “Idioms: fear” and “Idioms: Halloween”.

Vocabulary: the lesson starts with different synonyms of afraid (petrified, horrified, spooked) Students need to put them in different categories according to the intensity of the feeling.
Functional language:after that students are given a list of common things people are afraid of and a few phrases they can use to talk about their own fears (I am really afraid of…, …terrify me). Students discuss their fears in pair or small groups.
Reading: the lesson continues with a short gapped text describing the physical signs of fear. This activity also serves as a pre-lisening activity to teach a few of the more advanced words from the video (e.g. trigger, threat, goosebumps).
Video: students watch a video “Where do phobias come from?” which is divided into 3 parts. There is a matching exercise, gap fill exercise in which students need to write down the information they hear and note-taking exercise. Students discuss their impressions of the video after they have finished watching.
Vocabulary development: this is a bit more advanced exercise highlighting some grammar differences between the different synonyms of afraid. Students identify the odd word based on different reasons.
Homework: 3 research topics are suggested which aim to develop the topic further. The topics, combined with the additional resources provided on theenglishflows.com provide plenty of extra opportunities for contact with topic-related vocabulary in order to reinforce and enrich it.

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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:

1.inauguration   2.entirely   3.microscope   4.heart   5.licence   6.ratioanalize  7.roughly   8.cliché

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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