Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

The Secret of Success
Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate, Prep Speaking level


In this lesson, Ss will discuss 'success'--what it means to them, what characteristics must a successful person have, and how one can become 'successful' and achieve in something. A film on 'success' will inspire Ss to consider the nature (the quality) of success, and its diverse, subjective, ever-changing definitions. A listening exercise will also guide the Ss to think about and postulate on the 'secret of success' and what characteristics all 'successful' people share.


Abc Successful People
Abc Successful Situations

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity for freer speaking practice on the topic of success--how to define it, within what situation(s) does the definition apply, and how can an individual improve and 'become successful' in something

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity to practice their detailed listening skills, listening for specific information on the subject of 'success'


Warmer/Lead-in (11-13 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Show a series of pictures, of commonly-defined successful people, to the WC. This should include both celebrities and successful business people. Elicit from the WC: --"Why are these people considered successful? What are the achievements of these people?" --"How did these people become successful?" --"Would you call these people lucky, or do you think that they have a special talent?" Write on the WB SUCCESS IS....? Divide the WC into groups and instruct them to define what 'success' is in their own terms. Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Write some of the group's answers on the WB.

Exposure (13-15 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading

Inform the Ss that you have a series of quotes, from famous and 'successful' people, on what 'success' means to them. Instruct the groups to read their quote and determine the following: 1) "What does the quote mean? What is the famous person's thoughts on 'success'?" 2) "Do you agree or disagree with the meaning of the quote?" Distribute the "Quotes on Success" HO (one quote should be given per group). Following GW discussion, lead the Ss in a WC FB session. Elicit both the quote and the Ss' answers to the 2 activity questions.

Productive Task: How to Define Success (24-27 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Write on the WB: "One person's success is another person's failure?" Try to elicit from the WC what they think this saying means. Inform the WC that you are going to provide them with some situations where a person experienced both failure and success. Instruct the groups to decide which of the situations--and the failures-turned-'achievements' in those situations--are true examples of 'success.' Distribute the HO on 'Successful Situations.' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Inform the WC that they are going to analyze 4 specific people (Mr. Dosh, the businessman; Miss Adversity, the single mother; Ronald-O, the professional football player; and Professor Woodpecker, the Oxbridge University academic). "Each person described in this HO considers themself 'successful.' Based on the individual's description, why does each person consider themself 'successful'? What is their 'success' and their 'achievements'? Also, do you agree that this person is 'successful'?" Distribute the HO on "Successful People." Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. With the WC, revisit the question presented at the beginning of the lesson. "Now that we have read about and discussed some specific real-life situations, and individuals, that we would define and consider as 'successful,' how would we change our previous definition(s) of 'success'? What characteristics/qualities/traits should we add, or remove?"

Productive Task: What Is 'Success'? Film (10-14 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive and receptive skills

Inform the WC that they are going to watch a short film, defining 'success' in quite different terms. Instruct the WC, while watching the film, to take notes on what the narrator thinks about success and how he defines it. "Write down what the narrator says about the NATURE OF SUCCESS [write on the WB], how he defines it [the DEFINITION], and what EXAMPLES he provides." "What Is 'Success'?" (1:50) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8b4mZvrui4 Following a viewing of the film, elicit answers from volunteer Ss. T's Answers Definition: Doing anything well; excelling at something Nature of Success: It requires compromise; you can't be 'successful' at everything Examples of Success: --Running 100 meters --Selling an app for a lot of money --Listening to a child --Extremely kind to strangers --Filling your mind with interesting things --Knowing when to put your arm around someone Elicit from the WC their thoughts and responses to the narrator's definition of 'success.' "Do you agree or disagree with the narrator and his 'success' examples?"

Receptive Task: The Secret of Success (13-16 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target receptive skill

Write on the WB YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. Applying the narrator's definition of 'success' from the earlier short film, elicit from the WC any 'successes' and 'achievements' that they have experienced in their lives. Write the Ss' answers on the WB. Write on the WB ADVICE. Elicit from the WC, "What advice would you give someone who wants to become more successful in something?" Write on the WB SECRET OF SUCCESS. Elicit from the WC if anyone knows, or would like to guess, what the "secret of success" is? Inform the WC that they are going to listen to a radio program on this very subject, discussing a book called 'Outliers.' "Listen to this radio program and try to determine what is the 'secret of success,' according to the book 'Outliers.'" Following a listening, bring the WC together for FB and the answer [T's Answer: 10,000 hours of practice]. Elicit from the WC their response and thoughts to the book's claim. "Do you agree or disagree with the argument that a lot of practice is the 'secret of success'?"

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