What would make you happy?

Last week I taught the advanced class for the week. They are mostly teenaged girls who just like to have fun and mess around. I had a free hour for “activities” and I let my students choose: they could spend the hour in the library and do some extensive reading or they could spend the hour with a lesson on happiness. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t choose classwork over pretending to read, but their choice was unanimous.

So I followed this lesson plan by @designerlessons “Happiness – ‘One question’ – Generating Discussions”

I turned it into a listening/discussion lesson and didn’t emphasise accuracy. My goal was to see evidence of their comprehension of the video and to extend on that by reacting to the ideas in the video and adding their own. It wasn’t really a language learning goal, but I think being able to and having opportunities to think for themselves and express opinions is just as important as producing ‘correct’ language.

First I asked the students to think of things they would want to ask any random 50 people in the world. Their questions ranged from “What’s your name?” to “Do you like me?” to “Are you happy?” to “What do you know about Korea?”

Then I asked them the question asked in the video: “What would make you happy?” I asked them to take two minutes, think about it, and write the answers in their books.

After watching the video, they discussed the things that make those people happy. Some things my students were really touched by: “I’m already happy” reappeared in a comic strip they made several days later and “Being with my family” also resonated for them (unsurprising, since they’ve been away at camp for two weeks now). Other things they disagreed with: “Money” doesn’t make people happy, according to my students, and “a good wife” didn’t make much sense to them either.

So I asked them to get into groups and share what would make them happy with their group. And something magical happened. They, all by themselves, grabbed for poster-paper and markers and, while discussing the keys to their happiness, showed me a key to mine: these!

Seeing my students happy, interested and engaged makes me happy.

What would make you happy?

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  • Rachael Roberts  On August 13, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Lovely to see these examples of what your students came up with! I taught this lesson recently too, and the video was really powerful in stimulating discussion. Wish I could show you some of what was said..but they loved the old man who was already happy too..

    • livinglearning  On August 17, 2012 at 12:21 am

      Thanks Rachael! I think I might have got the idea from your tweets (last month?). It’s really interesting seeing what students get out of it. I tried it with a group of university students a few weeks ago and one wrote in her feedback for the course that it was her favorite activity because it left her feeling happy for the rest of the day.

      • Rachael Roberts  On August 17, 2012 at 1:48 am

        That’s lovely. Teaching someone English is great, but making them happy is definitely better!

  • Josette  On August 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    So much happiness here! Thank you so much for sharing this and for celebrating their creations! I was smiling ear to ear when I read this. I think my favorite was the simple, “laughing” in the third picture.

    Now you and Rachael have motivated me to try this next semester. I think it could be a great stress reliever. There is always and inevitable emotional dip about a month and a half into our program, and I think this could help them come out of it nicely. Thanks again!

    • livinglearning  On August 17, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Thanks, Josette. I love how contagious happiness can be. I’m curious what your participants will make of the lesson – look forward to hearing about it if you want to share. 🙂

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