Resisting the self-improvement craze

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Vocabulary - fixed phrases

fixed phrases for personal development


This time we give you a worksheet about self-improvement and coaching based on a speech by Svend Brinkmann called “Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze”. The lesson is heavily focused on speaking and teaches fixed phrases connected with personal development. I’ve selected this video for two main reasons:

  • it talks about an interesting topic and shows a unique viewpoint
  • the speaker is a ‘non-native’ speaker (Danish) so the video introduces a different accent than a standard British/American English and shows students how diverse English is. After all, most probably your students will use English to communicate with other people whose mother tongue is not English.
B2 / Upper Intermediate45 minStandard LessonPrintable & Digital$12 Plan


The warm-up part introduces the topic and lets students say what their experiences with coaching are and what they know about this topic. The next stage is vocabulary. There, students discover fixed phrases related to personal development (e.g. step out of the comfort zone, aim for sth, hone your skills). After learning new expressions, students have an opportunity to discuss statements (with those phrases) and use them to collaborate and decide which sentences are most/least interesting.


The lesson continues with the video part. First, students read an introduction to the video to learn and discuss what it is about. Next, they watch the video and need to answer closed comprehension questions (Yes/No/Don’t Know). The key point of the lesson is a discussion after the video. The speaker in the video criticizes the self-improvement culture. Students, then, will be able to compare his opinion with their own views on coaching and personal development. In my experience, it results in a heated and engaging debate as many people are either very open to coaching or totally against it.



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  1. Stan,

    Thank you very much for these lessons, I have been teaching them to my upper-inter and advanced business English groups in Russia, with the emphasis on speaking. They are a wonderful resource and much appreciated. Keep up the good work!


    1. Thanks Gareth! It’s great to hear such feedback from other teachers. It means that our lessons are relevant and useful for others as well. We’ll try to do our best to share with you more quality worksheets.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. l love bringing philosophy in my classes! This topic is so much relevant to me personally!


    1. That’s so nice hear! We love topics like that as they bring challenging ideas to the classroom and that almost always ends with a lively discussion.


  3. Thanks Stan, this is really helpful…one of my students was asking about a lesson concerning coaching.


    1. Your welcome! Have fun talking about coaching and the whole hype around it 🙂


  4. Great inspiration! I needed to extend this lesson so I involved this woderful, funny but deeply philosophical blog:


    1. thanks for the share 🙂


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