Why do new years resolutions fail?

  • Level: B1, B2, C1
  • Exercise: Comprehension questions included int he post
  • Language focus: past tense, future tense, behaviours, habits, modals
  • Media: Video

I know, I know…it’s a cliché to talk about new year’s resolutions in January, but I think it still makes for a good introspective discussion. And if you angle it right, you are creating a great natural context to use the past and futur tense.

Did you know that January comes from the Roman God Janus. He had two faces: one facing back to reflect on the past and one facing forward to think about the future. Watch this PBS video snippet about why new years resolutions fail (3.22 min.).

Warm up

  • Get the brain juices going with this questions: what was the wackiest resolution you have ever taken? e.g. exercise twice a day, quit drinking red wine forever, get a pet, etc. If you need some inspiration, check out this list. 63 Funny New Year’s Resolution
  • Then make some predictions: What are some of the features of new years goals that make them difficult to achieve?

The Video: PBS Learning Media Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

It is a relatively short presentation so depending on the level of you students you could watch the whole thing or cut it up.

Video Comprehension Questions

  • First do a Tell Back of the video and write down all the key vocabulary and concepts.
  • Why do resolutions fail?
  • What are the “psychological traps” that make resolutions difficult?
  • Why can making resolutions be bad for us?
  • How can we make “smart” resolutions? In other words, what are the features of good resolutions?
  • What do you think about the presenters’ t-shirt (I threw that in just for fun)

General Discussion

  • What are some of the things to did last year that surprised you?
  • What obstacles did you overcome?
  • What were some changes that happened in you life?
  • What were some good books you read?
  • What were some good deeds you did?
  • What are some things you would like to do this year?
  • Are there any changes you would like to make?
  • Anything you would like to learn?
  • What are your personal or professional goals?

If you want to do something a little different, you could also have students do a quick mind map of the year and talk about it after they get a few ideas down.

Have a great lesson!

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for supporting eslconversationlessons.com and wish you a great year full of fruitful discussions. Discussion is the tie that bind us together and breaks isolation, depression and puts our ideas in the collective. Mélanie