Selfish Behaviour — a Talking Points English Lesson Plan for Reading and Speaking

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This is a lesson plan all about people being selfish!

You can use this lesson plan in your English or ESL class. It comes complete with:

  • introductory questions
  • an article for reading
  • a big list of reading comprehension questions
  • a table of essential vocabulary
  • a true or false exercise
  • many vocabulary exercises
  • a big list of discussion questions
  • a role play activity
  • a debate activity
  • a group discussion activity
  • and a writing exercise


You can download this full and comprehensive lesson plan and use in your class today!


Check the link below!

selfish behaviour talking points (1)


Are people more selfish today? Or less so?

What do you think?

Were people more considerate in the past?

Have you seen any examples of selfish behaviour in your life?

Why Are People Like This?

Read Joy’s account below:



Maybe it‘s because I am from a different generation, I don’t know.

But it seems to me that people are just becoming more and more selfish than before.

People have this overbearing sense of personal entitlement these days.

For example, I was on the train the other day, and there was a young guy listening to music on his phone. But he was not using earphones.

He was just blasting the music out of the speaker on his phone.

Everybody could hear this music whether they wanted to or not.

I looked around, and I could see people were annoyed about this. But no one said anything.

But eventually, a man piped up.

He was polite, but pretty firm. He just asked the young guy if he could turn the music off. Or use headphones.

But this young guy turned to the man and flew into an instant rage.

He started yelling and screaming at him.

How dare you talk to me like that? Who the hell do you think you are?

Other people joined in and the young man refused to listen to anyone.

He absolutely believed he had the right to listen to his music as loud as he wanted to. And no one else could tell him not to.

I just don’t understand why people think this is perfectly acceptable behaviour. When I was younger, I wouldn’t dream of doing anything like that.

Another time, I was waiting in line at the post office. I had to send a parcel and there were a few people waiting patiently in the line.

Then a woman came in and just marched to the front.

She barged right in front of everyone.

The man behind her tapped her on the shoulder and said: Excuse me, there’s a line. We have been waiting before you.

And she just looked at him with total contempt.

I don’t have time to wait for all of you, she snapped.

And then she just refused to move.

Luckily, one of the staff called a security guard, and he told the woman to leave.

She put up a bit of a fight, but by then everyone was staring at her and she just walked out.

On her way out, she gave all of us a few choice words as she left!

I really don’t know why people are like this. It seems to be a totally modern-day phenomenon.

Maybe it’s a result of modern life. The pressure of work, the pressure of everyday life and people just snap.

I am pretty certain that we did not see this kind of selfish behaviour on the same scale in the past.

It would be a good idea for schools and parents to pay attention to this. Because if this is how it is now.

How will it be in the next ten years or so?

As for me, I always make a point of trying to be civil when I am outside. There are cameras everywhere.

I don’t want to be seen on social media doing something unspeakably rude.

selfish behaviour talking points (3)

Reading Comprehension Questions

Who is the person talking in the article?

What is she talking about?

What were the two examples she provides?

What did the young guy on the train do that annoyed the other passengers?

How did one of the passengers on the train react to the young guy playing music so loudly?

What did the man ask the young guy to do?

How did the young guy react to this?

What did he say in response to being asked to turn his music down?

How did Joy say she behaved when she was younger?

Describe the behaviour of the woman who cut in line at the post office.

Who talked to the woman about jumping the line?

What did this person say to the woman?

What did the woman say in response?

What did a staff member do to deal with the situation?

Was the woman happy when she left the post office?

What two reasons does Joy give for people behaving in this way in modern life?

In Joy’s opinion, did people behave like this when she was younger?

Which organisations or groups of people does Joy think should pay attention to this modern-day phenomenon?

How does Joy behave when she is outside?

What two kinds of technology does Joy mention that may force her to be civil when she is outside?

selfish behaviour talking points (4)

Essential Vocabulary

Different generation

Waiting patiently

For example

Becoming more selfish


Everybody could hear

Overbearing sense


Looked around

Personal entitlement


Piped up

Young guy


Flew into a rage

Listening to music


Who the hell


Waiting before you

Absolutely believed



Perfectly acceptable behaviour

Blasting the music


Another time


Modern life



Pressure of work

Tapped on the shoulder


Pressure of everyday life

Total contempt


Pretty certain



Schools and parents


Turn the music off

Pay attention

Security guard

Use headphones

Next ten years

Bit of a fight

Instant rage

Make a point

By then

Yelling and screaming


Choice words

Other people


Modern-day phenomenon



Result of modern life


Social media

On the same scale

Waiting in line


Be civil

Post office

Seems to me

Unspeakably rude






Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.


For example:


Different GenerationPeople who were born in different time periods, usually separated by about 20-30 years. For example, your grandparents, parents, and you all belong to different generations.


MarchedPast tense of the verb to march. To walk in a steady, rhythmic manner, often in a group, especially as part of a parade or a military exercise. For example, soldiers often march in unison.


Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.


I often find myself in disagreement with my grandfather about some issues because he is from a different generation to me.


Every morning, the students marched to the playground for their physical training session.


Do this with all the vocabulary and, over time, this will help improve all your English skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Discussion Questions

How old do you think Joy is?

Do you think this could be relevant to her opinions about politeness in society?

How would you describe the behaviour of the young man listening to music on the train?

Do you think his reaction was justified when asked to use headphones?

Do you think it was right of the man to ask the young guy to turn his music down? Or should the man just have kept quiet?

What would you have done if you were in this situation?

Why do you think the young guy responded so angrily when asked to turn his music down?

Why do you think the woman in the post office just marched to the front of the line?

Why did she not want to wait in line?

Is this acceptable do you think?

A man asked her to wait in line. Do you think he was right to do this?

If you were in the post office, how would you have reacted to this woman?

Have you ever seen examples of rude behaviour like this in public places?

How did it make you feel?

What do you think might be some reasons why people behave selfishly in public spaces like the train or post office?

How do you think cultural differences might influence what people consider acceptable behaviour in public?

Do you think there are cultural differences when it comes to waiting in line? Try to give examples.

What are three examples of rude behaviour in your country?

If a visitor comes to your country, say three things that they should never do in public.

Joy mentions that she believes this selfish behaviour is more prevalent today than in the past. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

In your opinion, what role do schools and parents have in teaching children about respecting others in public places?

Do you think schools and parents can help young people to learn respect?

How should young people learn about being polite in public?

How can technology, like cameras and social media, affect people’s behaviour in public spaces?

Are people afraid of being observed or recorded?

Or do they not care?

Are you rude to others in public?

Are you always polite?

In your country, do you think old people sometimes do rude things?

What about young people?

You can download the full lesson plan by clicking the link below!

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