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Positive Psychology in the Classroom

Self-Compassion - Intermediate High

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. identify examples of self-compassion. 
  2. recognize ways to be more self-compassionate.
  3. practice self-compassion.  

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. review vocabulary about the topic.
  2. listen for major details and vocabulary in context.
  3. use hypothetical language to talk about themselves.
  4. rewrite negated sentences into positive sentences.  

Materials Needed

Additional Listening Materials:


Self-compassion is the ability to treat ourselves as we would treat a dear friend who is having a hard time. Self-compassion soothes the negative and grows the positive, therefore it is key to coping with personal limitations while keeping a positive mindset and attitude. Tell students that in this lesson they will learn how to be kinder and nicer to themselves, especially when learning a new language.

definition retrieved from:

Activate Background Knowledge

Go over the following words and examples with students. Afterwards, have the students think of their own example sentences in the context of their experiences learning English. 

  • sensitive (adj): easily upset by the things people say or do, or causing people to be upset, embarrassed, or angry
    • He was very sensitive about his scar and thought everyone was staring at him.
  • compassion (n): a strong feeling of sympathy for someone who is suffering, and a desire to help them
    • Sara has compassion for Diego who was crying. 
  • regret (n): a feeling of sadness about something sad or wrong or about a mistake that you have made, and a wish that it could have been different and better
    • I left college early, but I've had a great life and I have no regrets.
  • treat (v): behave toward or deal with in a certain way
    • We should treat people with kindness. 
  • warm-hearted: kind a loving
    • She's a good, warm-hearted woman.
  • bully (v): to say or do unkind, rude, or mean things to someone 
    • Yuri bullied Stefano by calling him stupid. 
  • sympathy (n): the feeling of being sorry for someone who is in a bad situation
    • Yuki showed sympathy for Stefano by hugging him. 

Activity 1: Listening/Speaking  

With a partner, have the students describe a time when a friend was struggling. Have a couple of students share their 

Watch the following video.  Ask the students to look for examples of the vocab words they just learned.  Also ask them to look for examples of times they can be self-compassionate.  

Self-Compassion: Be Kind to Yourself

After watching the video, ask students to share examples of vocab words and examples of self-compassion they noticed in the video.

Activity 2: Speaking 

Talking back to negative thinking -- rewrite negative sentences to be positive.

  • Ex: “I can’t learn this language.” → “I can learn this language.  If I keep practicing, I’ll learn it well enough to communicate what I need to.  I have classmates and teachers who want to help me.”
  • Ex: “My accent sounds so bad.” → “My accent isn’t as important as other aspects of speaking.  When I speak everyone can still understand me.”
  • Invite students to think about a few of their fears and doubts (about language learning or anything else in their life).  They can just think or write them down.
  • After thinking/writing down negative sentences, ask students to speak the positive version (take out the negation) with a partner. 

Invite students to practice this anytime they notice feeling negative emotions/thoughts while learning English or in any aspect of their lives.

Activity 3: Speaking 

Use the PowerPoint to show examples of stressful scenarios.  With each picture have students describe how they would feel in that situation.

Ask students to imagine themselves in those situations.  What would they do to overcome those negative emotions?  Use “if…then” and modals “should,” “could,” and “would” to speak in hypotheticals. 

  • Ex: I would make a plan of everything I need to do.
  • Ex: I should ask a friend for help.
  • Ex: If I forgot about a test then I would take a deep breath and ask the teacher for instructions.


Option 1: Speaking Prompt

Ask students to respond to the following quote:

“You don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love and kindness”- Shauna Shapiro.

Do you agree or disagree with the statement by Shauna Shapiro?  Why or why not?  Support your opinion with specific examples and reasons.  

Option 2: Have students practice rewriting negative thoughts.  Every time they notice a negative thought about themselves, have them practice saying something positive about themselves instead (they can say these new thoughts out loud to practice their speaking).



Invite students to share their experiences and discuss how kindness and self-compassion are helping them be happier in their lives. Have students talk about how they felt when writing a compassionate letter to themselves or when rephrasing negative thoughts.  Did they feel relieved, happier, or comforted? Praise students when they talk about their feelings about this experience. 


Review the words learned in the vocabulary activity.  To review you can:

  • Ask students to think of their own example sentence using each word
  • Think of synonyms or antonyms for each word
  • Identify in which contexts the words could be used


Review hypothetical language.  Give students the start of this sentence and ask them to fill the rest of the sentence using appropriate hypothetical language.  

If I experience a negative thought about myself… 

  • Then I will…

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