How to buy happiness

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Vocabulary - rich and poor

esl worksheet


The lesson is based on the TED talk by Michael Norton titled “How to buy happiness”. This ESL worksheet is for B1+ students as the speech is not very difficult to understand, but rather fast. Norton’s talk has a rather controversial topic and it could be interesting to ask your students this question before watching the video and learning what the author has to say on money and happiness.

B1 / Intermediate
B2 / Upper Intermediate
60 minStandard LessonFree / Premium Plan


The lesson mainly concerns money and issues connected with it. The first exercise in the worksheet is on synonyms of words poor and rich. These words and phrases are useful for the following exercise. Next, students move to a discussion on money and happiness. You should monitor them and remind them of using vocabulary from the previous task. Then, students move to completing gaps. There are questions which contain phrases used to talk about money. Moreover, after filling in, students can answer these questions in pairs.


Finally, students move to the last task. They have to watch the video and discuss the speaker’s ideas. Encourage your students to express their own observations on the topic.
The whole lesson should take you around 45 minutes as the speech is 11-minute long. However, it always depends on how much your students are engaged in the discussions. Tell us what you think about this ESL worksheet!


We also have an follow-up worksheet to expand on the topic and teach your students some new vocabulary. The worksheet consists of various exercises and the whole worksheet is based on the World Happiness Report that measures how happy citizens of over 150 countries are. See it at The happiest country in the world.



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Leave a Reply

  1. Larissa Heta

    Great lesson with excellent values about money, But I would recommend to use this lesson for students above B1 .
    The speaker speaks very very fast and is quite difficult to understand at times!
    Great lesson and I will definitely use it again.

    Thank you so much ESL brains!!

    1. Justa

      Thanks for the feedback. We’re happy you’ve enjoyed the lesson ☺️

    2. Andy Ghandi

      Here’s the transcript:

      1. Stan

        Andy, thanks for the link, however, I don’t know if you know that each TED Talk has official transcript available on their website. There are also translations available in many language if that’s something you might find useful. For example, the transcript for this video is available here: . BTW you can click any part of the transcript and the video jumps to that part instantaneously.

  2. Hamish

    Love this one, great job.

    1. Justa


  3. Christiane Iglesias

    GREAT LESSON. Level adaptable, intereactive and fun. It gave my students lots of opportunities to speak. Thanks!!!

    1. Justa

      Really happy that your students enjoyed it!

  4. Laureen López

    Hi, I would like to use this lesson plan with my students, I have the Unlimited Plan, and I would like to know how to get the Extra Worksheet. Thanks!

    1. Stan

      Hi Laureen! The extra worksheet is actually linked at the bottom of the description. I’ve pasted the link here as well for your convenience:

  5. samanthajewen

    Hello! Thank you for this great content, I’ve used it with various classes and it promoted really inspiring discussion. One thing – there’s a mistake on the worksheet. I believe it should say “lent” in the vocab box, not lend (as the sentence is in past tense). Thanks again 🙂

    1. Stan

      Thanks for the feedback! Great to hear that your students enjoy this lesson 🙂
      In terms of that mistake… I suppose we should have indicated that the verbs might need to be changed to fit the sentences (that’s how we updated the lesson a few minutes ago). If we changed “lend” to “lent”, we’d be simplifying the job for students as there’s only one place where a past participle is needed.

  6. Ann

    You saved my life! Loved it 😀

    1. Justa

      Happy to hear that 🙂

  7. freitas-dias

    It’s amazing class for intermediate students. I really enjoy with this class. I learned new vocabulary and improved new skills about comunication. I recommend this class for everyone.

  8. DariaTeacher

    I`ve been looking for some extra vocabulary on this topic and this lesson’s helped a lot! Thank you so much for great ideas and inspiration!

    1. Justa

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m happy you find our ideas inspiring 🙂


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