Bad Habits (Intermediate Lesson Plan)

ESL Level: Intermediate
Lesson Topic: bad habits
Skill Focus
: Speaking, Reading, Vocabulary
Lesson Plan Download: bad-habits-lesson-intermediate27092020.docx
Approximate Class Time: Two hours

Note: This lesson was made for English teachers. Students, feel free to read the lesson and leave your answers to the questions in the comment area below.

Break your bad habits!

INTERMEDIATE Lesson Plan on Bad Habits: Warm-up (Pair Work)

  1. What are some things that you like to do every day?
  2. What are some things that you should do every day that you don't always?
  3. You are about to read an article about bad habits. With a partner, try to guess some of the bad habits that will be discussed in the article. Write down your ideas.
  4. What's the best way to break a bad habit?

Reading: Bad Habits to Break to Improve Our Lives

1. When things don't happen as we planned them to, we make excuses. We find convenient ways to justify why we couldn't or wouldn't do something. Stubbornly, we put off our plans and believe that tomorrow is more convenient than today. These excuses waste time and prevent us from making progress.

2. Interconnectivity distracts us from doing tasks efficiently. The internet is full of shallow content designed to get our attention. After losing our attention, research by professor Gloria Mark says it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to completely return to a task. To focus on our work, we need to put away our devices. Also, people may say they are great at multitasking, but research shows that 98% of us cannot do it well.

3. We often believe that saying `No' is impolite or unfriendly, so we say `Yes' to everything. This can negatively affect our own personal time and happiness.

4. With the rise of social media, it has become much easier to compare ourselves to others. We often compare ourselves to images of other people's lives that may not reflect reality. This can make us discontent.

5.Our minds are full of useless comments and judgements. When we let these inner voices control our lives, we overlook the beauty of the present moment.

[Sources:,, some original content]

Bad Habits Lesson Plan: Comprehension & Follow-up Questions

  • What does research say about multitasking?
  • According to the reading, how can social media make us unhappy?
  • True or False: The article states that we need to listen to our inner voices more.
  • Review the list. In the margin beside each point, write “That's me / Somewhat me / Not me” based on how much the bad habit relates to your life. Afterwards, discuss your answers with a partner or classmates.
  • Do you agree with the points of the article? What points do you think are missing from the list?

Vocabulary: Match the words with their meaning as used in the article.

1.     justify (v)

2.     stubbornly (adv)

3.     put off (phrasal verb)

4.     distract (v)

5.     shallow (adj)

6.     multitasking (n)

7.     reflect (n)

8.     discontent adj)

9.     overlook

a)     not deep, without depth

b)     the act of doing several tasks at once

c)     in a way that shows we don't want to change

d)     make someone lose their attention/focus

e)     miss or not see something

f)      unhappy

g)     delay, to move something to a later date

h)     give a reason for something

i)      show, represent


1H, 2C, 3G, 4D, 5A, 6B, 7I, 8F, 9E

Vocabulary Homework: Circle the words that were new for you. Add them to your vocabulary notebook and make sentences for homework.

Habits Lesson Plan: Five Good Habits (Group Work)

The article does not talk about good habits. Think about the following categories:

  • good habits for studying and school success
  • good habits for career success
  • good habits for physical and mental health
  • good habits for happiness in life

Option 1: Each group should pick one category above and spend five minutes creating a list of five good habits together. When finished, students should present their list to the class. —or–

Option 2: Each group can create a general list of five good habits related to any category. When finished, students present their list to the class.

ESL Lesson Plan on Habits: Famous Quotes on Habits (Group Work)

Discuss the below quotes. When finished, add your own quote.

  • “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” — Aristotle
  • “Some rules are nothing but old habits that people are afraid to change.” — Therese Fowler
  • “Happiness is a habit–cultivate (grow) it.” — Elbert Hubbard
  • “Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worse habit you could possibly have.” — Dale Carnegie

Bad Habits Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

  1. The article says that smartphones make people less productive. Is this true for personal life? What about the workplace?
  2. What are some ways that we can use to `say no' politely?
  3. Does social media really make us unhappy? Do you get benefits from its use?
  4. How does our culture change how we view good or bad habits? If you have lived in another culture, what `good' or `bad' behaviours are viewed differently there?


Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

7 comments on “Bad Habits (Intermediate Lesson Plan)

  1. AJB (Posted on 9-30-2020 at 12:31) Reply

    These lessons are lifesavers? Thank you! If you don’t mind me asking, how do you make money? Do you write books as well as providing all of this content for free?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 9-30-2020 at 23:27) Reply

      Hello. Great to hear that it was useful. I rarely make new lessons for conversational English classes nowadays because I don’t teach them, so this was an exception (there are lots of good old ones though). Re: money, this website has some ads that generate a bit of revenue. ESL advertisers, however, do not pay much especially for traffic coming from developing countries. I have not written a book with lessons in it, though I write passages for English testing companies. The content here is free, yes. If you have any suggestions about money-making, feel free to make a suggestion :)

      1. Anonymous (Posted on 10-18-2020 at 07:30) Reply

        Excuse my belated reply. Thanks, this information is good to know. I haven’t made any passive income from ESL yet. I know that a lot of ESL teachers have EngVid YouTube channels. Judging my the amount of views that they get I assume that they are doing reasonably well financially from them. Personally, I want to write books. People like Raymond Murphy who have had bestselling books for 25 years inspires me venture into that area. Other than that I don’t really have any ideas. FYI, if you were to write a book I have no doubt that people would buy it. Your lessons are the best that I have seen on the net by far!

        1. mb Post author (Posted on 10-18-2020 at 12:30) Reply

          Thanks. Writing a book is an idea. I will ruminate. All the best to you and your language-related projects!

  2. AJB (Posted on 9-30-2020 at 12:31) Reply

    *These lessons are lifesavers!

  3. Anonymous (Posted on 2-28-2022 at 15:30) Reply

    Dear Matthew,
    Your website piqued my interest today as I was searching for new material for my ESL class. Your lessons are excellent and an absolute lifesaver for busy teachers.
    I am an adjunct professor at the University for Applied Sciences, as well as teaching at business firms for students at various levels, so I am always looking for new topics to cover.
    Thank you very much for your comprehensive lesson plans, and yes I will buy your book!
    Best wishes

  4. Silvia (Posted on 5-11-2022 at 07:55) Reply

    Dear Matthew,
    I have recently come across your website and I agree with the comments made so far. Your material is really useful. Thank you so much for sharing.
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