Handling Strong Emotions - Intermediate High

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes: Students will recognize and label emotions and create a plan of action for successfully navigating emotions in learning a new language. Language Learning Outcomes: Students will use circumlocution to clarify meaning, narrate/describe in all major time frames about familiar and general topics, understand explicit main ideas, and listen for specific information.

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. recognize and label emotions.
  2. create a plan of action for successfully navigating emotions in learning a new language.

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. use circumlocution to clarify meaning.
  2. narrate/describe in all major time frames about familiar and general topics.
  3. understand explicit main ideas.
  4. listen for specific information.

Materials Needed


Start by asking the following question and making a list on the board. Students can shout out answers or come up to the board to write them. Encourage students to use more advanced vocabulary and not just “sadness” and “happiness” .

  • What are some examples of emotions? 
    • Ex: Anger, sadness, happiness, anxiety, fear, surprise, etc.

Ask the following questions. Give time for students to answer these questions in small groups, and encourage students to give specific examples. Model answers if necessary.

  • When have you felt two emotions at the same time? 
    • Ex: I was sad when I left home, but I was excited to come to the United States.
  • What emotions do you feel when you learn a new language? Why?
    • Ex: I feel excited when I do well on a test. OR I feel angry when I do not improve.

Explain that in this lesson, students will learn about strong emotions that we experience when learning a language. 

Activate Background Knowledge

Speaking prompt: Give students one minute to think and prepare and one minute each to speak about this with a partner. 

Think about a time when you were very angry. 


Think about a time when you were very sad. 

  • What did you do?
  • What can you do in the future? (Ideas may include: breathe deeply, take a break, go for a walk, think before speaking, take a shower, write about it, etc.)

Share with the class. If relevant, point out any experiences that were related to learning a language. Then explain that learning a language can be a very emotional experience. 

Activity 1: Listening

    Watch the following video titled “How Mindfulness Helps to Manage Emotions”.  (the video is linked to the images on slides 5 and 6)

    • The first time you watch the video,  have students listen for the main idea.  
    • The second time you watch, have students complete the cloze activity (use a lower speed as needed).

    How Mindfulness Helps to Manage Emotions


    Handling Strong Emotion Cloze Activity

    • Ask students to compare their answers with a partner.  
    • Review answers as a class. 
    • Emphasize that we can learn a language better when we have clear, sunny “emotional weather”. Thinking, writing, and talking about “emotional weather” helps us better understand how we are feeling, where those feelings come from, and how we can handle them. 

    Activity 2: Vocabulary

    Give each student a copy of the emotion wheel or have one available for them to refer to. 

    • Discuss the emotion wheel as a class. 
    • Divide the class into groups of 3. Have each student in each group identify 3 words on the emotion wheel that he or she doesn’t know. Students should choose different words from their group members.
    • Give students time to look up the words, and write an example sentence for each.

    The Gottman Institute The Feeling Wheel

    Activity 3: Speaking 

    In the same groups of 3, have students play a game by explaining their words from activity 2. Students may not say the word they are describing, but can describe it using circumlocution and giving examples. Other team members can look at the wheel, but they cannot look up the definition of the word. 

    After all groups have guessed their words, have students go around and explain their words one more time. Students should take notes about new words they learn as they listen to their group members.

    Activity 4: Speaking

    Explain that students will now use this vocabulary to describe their emotions.

    Have students create 5 “I feel… when…” sentences with a partner (they should speak these, not write them). Encourage students to write 3 sentences about their emotions learning a new language and 2 sentences describing their everyday emotions. Model adding an explanation to the sentence using “when” or “because”. 

    Ex. “I feel frustrated when I forget words in English”, “I feel excited because I have fun weekend plans”, or “I feel insecure when other students do better on tests than me.”

    After students finish creating sentences with their partners, ask a few students to share. Then discuss the following question as a class:

    Why is it important to describe our emotions?

    Activity 5: Meditation

    Have students look at the five “I feel… when…” sentences they wrote. Explain that they will now make a plan to deal with emotions in the future using ‘When I feel… I will…’. Model an example of what their plan could look like.

    • When I am frustrated with my English, I will take a deep breath and say one nice thing about myself.

    Give students time to make a plan for 3 emotions. Then have them share (if they are comfortable) with a partner.


    Explain that students will track their plan this week by recording their emotions and what they did. A follow up on this assignment will occur on Thursday.

    The following handout has two charts per page and so you will only need to print out enough sheets for half the number of students in your class.

    Strong Emotions Plan


    Watch the following video (stop at 3:00).

    STOP being afraid of emotions: 3 STEPS ON HOW NOT TO BE AFRAID OF FEELINGS


    • Listen for the three ways given in the video to help manage emotions. 
    • Discuss with a partner three practices that can be used to help manage emotions.


    Identifying and labeling emotions interactive video

    Emotions Emoji - English ESL video lesson



    Discuss the plan you made for homework on Monday with a partner. 

    This content is provided to you freely by EdTech Books.

    Access it online or download it at https://edtechbooks.org/PositivePsychologyintheClassroom/handling_strong_emotions_intermediate_high.