Thursday, 1 May 2014

Dare them to practise positive thinking

In our last lesson with my B2 students we began a new unit about being positive. It is from the coursebook for  B2 Take Off by Hillside Press. In the beginning there were questions,calling for critical thinking, i.e. What might motivational speakers encourage people to do? They came up with several suggestions like becoming more confident about themselves, overcoming their fears and worries, trying something risky and adventurous. I should mention that it is one of the last units of the coursebook and, as exams are coming up soon, it was a chance for me to make them feel  more positive towards their own challenge to pass their English Certificate exams.
First, I asked them what makes a good speaker. What are their skills and qualities? Why are some better than others? What is the main characteristic of a motivational presenter? What could school students gain from an encouraging speech? The core targets are boosting self-confidence and positive thinking so that they perform their best.
On the next page there was a list of tips of what somebody should do to practise positive thinking. Some of them were to make a list of their positive qualities that they should read when they are in bad mood, make a list of their short-term and long-term goals that they should check every day. Another tip was to read an article or an autobiography of a successful person. Finally, they should make a list of things they are scared of or worried about and they should try to overcome at least one of them. We discussed a lot whether these tips would work for them, which ones they might try and which ones they find useless.
And here comes their challenge. At the beginning they objected to writing down lists. They  think that people just know their qualities, they don’t need to read their lists. My argument was that people need something or someone to remind them of their positive qualities when they are feeling down and the list can be at hand. So, I challenged them to make a list that they should check every time they feel  pessimistic. After all, they are teenagers, in a life period that all emotions are overwhelming and their mood could change within nanoseconds. As for their goals, they all mentioned passing their exams as a short-term goal- quite obvious. Reading that list will remind them of the goal they have set. Finally, they should read an article of a person they admire and they should prepare a presentation of the impact it had on them. I didn’t ask for a summary. I asked them to describe their emotions and how it made them feel while reading it. Could they use some of the methods? Are they achievable?
All these tasks should be practised till the end of the month before they sit for the exams. My goal is to make them feel confident and determined, they should believe in themselves so that they reach the best of their performance. Needless to say that along with the positive thinking exercise they will practise all language skills like speaking, writing, reading and listening. They have to use descriptive vocabulary and support their opinions with arguments.
Soon I will upload photos of their list and videos of their presentations on successful people.


  1. Thanks for sharing your practice. The topic is appealing and in this case, the students benefit not in their English only but get learning life curving messages. Personally I agreen that a list of one's positive qualities should always be around to lift him when one is feeling down.

  2. Positive thinking is really important!! Way to go!

  3. Thank you for your comments! I think we should all put these ideas in practice!

  4. Thanks for sharing your lesson plan. I think it's very good and a chance to rethink what are our positive qualities. Thinking about goals is also important . Since setting an appropriate goal is already getting half of the job done. looking forward to seeing the presentations.
    I think it's a good idea also to share with the class your own ideas. What you feel are your positive qualities and people that inspire you. That way it will help them open up and share their feelings, as well.

    1. Yes, that is a good idea. Actually, I went a little be further and I asked them to prepare a video with their good qualities.