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Perfectionism - Intermediate Mid

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. define perfectionism 
  2. identify the three types of perfectionism
  3. identify ways to combat perfectionism 
  4. practice mindfulness meditation.   

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. listen for specific information.
  2. actively participate in conversations through proper responses.
  3. narrate/describe in past tense about a personal experience.

Materials Needed


Perfectionism is having unrealistic expectations and thinking and feeling negatively when those expectations are not met. In other words, perfectionism is like a toxic game of Spot the Difference. We may compare ourselves to a picture of how we think we should be and identify all the ways we fail to measure up. This way of thinking is dangerous and destructive. Tell students that today we will talk about perfectionism.

Activate Background Knowledge

Spot the Difference Game: Show students the two pictures of the Eiffel Tower (on the PowerPoint) and give them one minute to study the pictures and see how many of the 5 differences they can spot. At the end of the minute discuss the differences and see if students were able to identify all 5 differences in the pictures. (Show answer slide.)

Spot-the-difference Picture Travel Game | Travel + Leisure | Travel +  Leisure

Retrieved from:

If they focused close enough on the individual elements of the images, students were probably able to successfully find most, if not all, the differences in these pictures.  However, ask students questions like:

  • During the one minute you were looking for differences in the pictures did you notice the beauty of the picture? 
  • Did you think of a time when you may have visited the Eiffel Tower or about possibly visiting in the future?  
  • Did you think about what you know about the history or significance of the structure?  

The purpose of this activity was not to appreciate the images nor to complete the second image; the purpose was to identify every imperfection in the incomplete copy of the first picture. 

Activity 1: Listening

Watch the following video “The Perils of Perfectionism” and have students pay attention and write down the three types of perfectionism and the three tips to help combat perfectionism.

The Perils of Perfectionism 

After watching the video, have students discuss with a partner the three types of perfectionism and the tips to combat it. You can ask students questions like:

- Which type of perfectionism are you most prone to? 

- Can you think of examples of each of the three types of perfectionism? 

- What are some ways you use to combat harmful perfectionism?

Activity 2: Speaking

Have students work in small groups (3-4 students) and give each group a handout Three Flavors of Perfectionism. Have them read each of the statements and decide which type of perfectionism it is. Once partners/groups have had a chance to complete the activity, review the answers as a class.

Activity 3: Listening/Speaking

Explain to students that perfectionism is especially dangerous in language learning. Introduce the following ways in which perfectionism can bring you down. 

Ways Perfectionism Brings You Down:

  • Unrealistic goals: Perfectionists tend to set goals that are not attainable, which sets them up for failure.
  • Procrastination: Perfectionism often leads to procrastination.  You feel like you can’t start a project until you’ve looked up more sources, interviewed more people, and come up with the greatest introduction of all time. The pressure of making things perfect keeps you from getting started. 
  • Depression and anxiety: Research shows that perfectionism fuels mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. 
  • Toxic thinking:
    • All or nothing thinking
    • Seeing only the bad or the mistake in a situation
    • Focusing too much on the outcome instead of the process

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As a class, discuss some of the ways (listed above) that perfectionism can bring you down. Tell students that having a growth mindset can help combat perfectionism and watch this clip from Meet the Robinsons.

Failure - Meet the Robinsons - Keep Moving Forward 

Then, have students discuss with a partner the following questions: 

  • In what ways can mistakes and failure be beneficial?
  • Describe a time when you learned from a mistake and became better. 
  • How can taking risks and not being afraid to fail help you be a better language learner?

Activity 4: Meditation

Play the 4 minute Good Morning, I Love You video with guided meditation and have students join the meditation practice as they watch.  Encourage students to focus and practice self-compassion rather than perfectionism as they participate. 


Practice the Good Morning, I Love You meditation practice every morning for the week.  Be prepared to share with the class the effect this practice had on your week.   



Perfectionism vs. Doing Things Well.  Discuss.  If time allows, complete the activity. Perfectionism vs Doing Things Well.pdf

Activity taken from:


Have students take the Measure of Perfectionism to see where they stand. Measure of Perfectionism.pdf

Activity taken from:


Watch the following video and discuss how this relates to perfectionism. (Video is 11 minutes long.  You may choose to watch only part of the video) 

After watching the video, ask students the following questions and have them discuss it:

  • How can we spend more time in the learning zone?  

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