stress-for-tesl-discussion topic

What is Stress? ESL Discussion Topic

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I am always looking for things that are interesting for me to talk about in class. I figure if it interests me then maybe it will interest my students. This is one such topic. I actually took a course when I was training to be a personal trainer about stress. I’m not sure if that’s where I got this information but here it is.

This is actually from the front and back of the sheet I used in class. I usually go over the front together and use it to try to get students to begin talking about stress. These kinds of articles are great because you are not only giving them something to talk about but you are providing them with useful information that can help them in life.

I started in teaching a long time ago with that premise. Helping my fellow man was a motivator and although I might have forgotten that a time or two that still has remained with me to this day. That’s one reason I am doing this blog and podcast. If I can help out my fellow teachers and also provide information for students at the same time then hopefully I am reaching not just a class of 15 to 20 students but countless people all over the world.

I’m going to step up on my soapbox for just a second to relay this message. Don’t forget that your job and paycheck are because of your students. Many people get frustrated with other cultures and the management of the schools where they might be teaching. No matter how bad my bosses were, I always knew that the reason I was there and the reason I got up at 5:30 every morning were because of those students who were doing their best to better their lives by learning English.

Okay stepping down from the soapbox. But remember that your students and coworkers will be the best part of teaching overseas. I’ve still got good friends around the world who have enriched my life just by knowing them. Now let’s get on with the lesson!

Stress TESL Discussion topic


Which of these is stress?

  • You receive a promotion at work.
  • Your car has a flat tire.
  • You go to a fun party that lasts till 2:00 a.m.
  • Your dog gets sick.
  • Your new bedroom set is being delivered.
  • Your best friend and his wife come to stay at your house for a week.
  • You get a bad case of hay fever.
  • All the above.

List some causes of stress. Are these positive or negative?


Newer measurements of stress find that people’s perception of things is the most important thing about dealing with what we call the day to day hassles. Are these hassles to you?

  1. You have an argument with your boss.
  2. You have a long train ride into work.
  3. You have to cook dinner.
  4. It’s raining.
  5. ???

How do you handle the stress of an upcoming test or final?

How do you handle stress in general?

Can stress be good for us? If so, how?

Stress Vulnerability Scale

The following stress vulnerability scale was developed to determine how susceptible you were to being affected by stressors. Beside each statement indicate how much of the time each statement applies to you.

Score each item based on the scale below:

  1. Always
  2. Almost always
  3. Most of the Time
  4. Some of the Time
  5. Never

_1. I eat at least one hot, balanced meal a day.

_2. I get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at least four nights a week.

_3. I give and receive affection regularly.

_4. I have at least one relative within 50 miles on whom I can rely,

_5. I exercise to the point of perspiration at least twice a week.

_6. I smoke less than half a pack of cigarettes a day. (If you don’t smoke, then the answer will be 1 always)

_7. I take fewer than 5 alcoholic drinks a week. (Again, if you don’t drink at all, then the answer will be 1.)

_8. l am the appropriate weight for my height.

_9. I have an income adequate to meet basic expenses.

_10. I get strength from my religious beliefs.

_11. I regularly attend club or social activities.

_12. I have a network of friends and acquaintances.

_13. I have one or more friends to confide in about my personal matters.

_14. I am in good health. (including eyesight, hearing, and teeth)

_15. I am able to speak openly about my feelings when angry or worried.

_16. I have regular conversations with the people with whom I live about domestic problems (e.g., chores, money, and daily living issues)

__ 17. I do something for fun at least once a week.

_18. I am able to organize my time effectively.

_19. I drink fewer than 3 cups of coffee (or tea or cola drinks) a day.

_20. I take quiet time for myself during the day.

TOTAL POINTS – 20 = __ (your stress score)

  • 0-30 Good resistance to stress
  • 30-50 Some vulnerability to stress
  • 50-75 Seriously vulnerable to stress
  • 75+ Extremely vulnerable to stress

Are there any habits that you can change to reduce your vulnerability to stress?

What is Stress TESL Activity?

Interesting ESL discussion topic

Interesting and Informative?

How was that class? I want to point out that numbers 6 and 7 are always questions that students seem to have a hard time understanding. If they don’t drink or smoke then the answer will always be 1. I added a little explanation to the sheet that I usually use because I had so many people who got those two wrong.

To spur on the conversation you can tell them that the answer to the last question on the second sheet will be anything that they answered 5 for.

Have a Stress-Free Class

Here’s to hoping that this class is both interesting and informative and gives students some new vocabulary. I’ve bolded a few words that students always asked about in my classes. There are hosts of other questions that can be added to this page so that students can have even more discussion on stress-related topics.

Until next time always remember that Teaching English is Fun!

~ Jim

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