Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan (Upper-Intermediate)

Download the medical myths ESL lesson plan here: Medical-Myths-ESL-UppIntermediate-19082012.doc

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Upper-Intermediate

a lesson on medical myths

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Warm-up (Pair Work)

1) How is your health? What things do you do to stay healthy?
2) What unhealthy habits do people have nowadays?
3) How do you cure a cold or a hangover?

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Old Wives’ Tales (Pair Work)

Old wives’ tales are pieces of advice, usually about nutrition or parenting, that are passed down from an older mother to a younger one. Such tales are often based on superstition instead of fact. What old wives tales are shared in your country? Make a list with a partner.

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Myth Matching

The table below contains some commonly held health ideas. First, match the beginning of each sentence to its end. Then decide which you believe and which you do not.
1.     People should drink
2.     Reading in dim light harms
3.     Eating turkey makes
4.     Men think of sex
5.     Cold, wet weather causes
6.     Chocolate causes
7.     Standing on your head cures
8.     Worry and stress can turn
9.     We use only
10. Hair and fingernails continue
11. Shaving hair causes
12. Children who eat a lot of sugar
13. Chewing gum takes
14. Having sex before playing sports
a.     it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser.
b.     10% of our brains.
c.     7 years to pass through your system
d.     hiccups.
e.     your hair gray.
f.      at least eight glasses of water a day.
g.     people drowsy.
h.     your eyesight.
i.       reduces your performance
j.       to grow after death.
k.     become hyperactive
l.       colds and flu.
m.    every seven seconds.
n.     acne.

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Some Answers

Re: Water. Eight glasses or two to three litres of water a day are not needed to maintain health. The amount of water needed varies by person (weight), activity level, clothing, and environment (heat and humidity). Moreover, consuming things that contain water, such as juice, tea, milk, fruits, and vegetables, also keeps a person hydrated, and can supply more than half of the needed water.
Re: Sugar & children. Studies have shown no behavioral differences between children given sugar-full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or those considered sensitive to sugar.
Re: Chewing gum. Chewing gum is mostly indigestible. But it passes through the digestive system at the same rate as other matter.
Re: 10% brain usage. While it is true that a small minority of neurons in the brain is actively firing at any one time, inactive neurons are important too. This misconception has been around since the start of the 20th century and was attributed to William James, who apparently used the expression metaphorically.
Re: Every 7 seconds. In reality, this has not been measured, and as far as researchers can tell, this statistic greatly exaggerates the frequency of sexual thoughts.
Re: Sex before sports. There is no physiological basis for this belief. Additionally, it has been proven that sex during the 24 hours prior to sports activity can elevate the levels of testosterone in males, which potentially could enhance performance.
Re: Shaving hair. Shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker. This belief is due to hair which has never been cut having a tapered end, whereas after cutting there is no taper; the cut hair appears to be thicker, and feels coarser due to the sharper, unworn edges. The shorter hairs being “harder” (less flexible) than longer hairs also contribute to this effect.
Re: Hair and nails after death. Hair and fingernails do not grow after a person dies. Rather, the skin dries and shrinks from the bases of hairs and nails, giving the appearance of growth.

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
the hiccups
exaggerate (verb)
taper (verb)
shrink (verb)
  • superstition – the belief that events happen for supernatural reasons
  • dim – not bright
  • coarse – made of large pieces, not fine
  • the hiccups – a sound made in the throat caused by the movement of the diaphragm
  • drowsy – sleepy
  • misconception – a belief/idea that is not based on correct information
  • metaphor – a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something
  • exaggerate – stretch the truth; make sth seem bigger/better/worse than it really is
  • taper – gradually become narrower
  • shrink – become smaller; move away or back from sth

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
superstition / hiccups
dim / drowsy
coarse / taper
misconception / health
metaphor / life
exaggerate / effect
shrink / skin

Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

1)     What’s your opinion of Eastern medicine?
2)     Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Is this a real condition?
3)     What non-medical myths do you know (e.g. about physics, or history)?

Medical Myths ESL lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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4 comments on “Medical Myths ESL Lesson Plan (Upper-Intermediate)

  1. Michelle (Posted on 3-20-2013 at 02:00) Reply

    These lessons are great, but it would be even better if they were available in a Word or PDF form.

  2. mb (Posted on 3-20-2013 at 09:47) Reply

    they are. look at the top.

  3. Caryl (Posted on 3-1-2015 at 13:50) Reply

    great idea!

  4. Bianca (Posted on 3-8-2016 at 08:39) Reply

    Very good material. Interesting ideas.

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