Working All The Time — a Talking Points lesson plan for reading, speaking & vocabulary

People work too hard. They often work at the weekends and do overtime or they take work home and do it there. It never used to be like this. So why is it happening now? And what are the results of it?

This lesson plan is about working all the time. It could be useful for any English class, but is most appropriate for a class with working adults.

I strongly suggest that you download the full lesson plan in PDF format. You can do that by clicking the link down below.





Do people work long hours in your country?

Do people work too much sometimes?

How much time should people have for other activities apart from work?


Working All The Time


Read Jennifer’s account below:

I worry about my husband. I just think he works too much. It seems like he is working all the time.

He works in sales for this sports manufacturer, and it seems like he never gets any time off. I work as a teacher and I thought my hours were crazy, but he literally works every single day.

He has to go on business trips a lot and go to trade fairs and conferences. He doesn’t like to do it but needs must. But when he gets home, he looks like he has aged five years.

And it seems like it is expected of anyone working in a big company now. If you want to get on and do well, you have to be available to work 24 hours a day. No one dares to say no in case it looks bad in front of their boss. People are afraid to say no or turn their mobile phones off.

Anyway, this all came to a head last week. I was at home and preparing dinner — I always have to do this alone now — and I got a phone call and it was the police.

They had found my husband on the side of a busy road and passed out in his car.

Of course, they thought he was drunk.

So they breathalysed him. They didn’t find any alcohol in his system, but they said he looked drunk and was incoherent.

Then they took him into the police station.

That’s when he woke up and started freaking out. He told them he was fine and that I would be worried so they called me and I went to the police station to see what was what.

The police had to call a doctor, and it turned out that my husband was suffering from exhaustion. And I don’t mean very tired — he was medically considered to be exhausted.

The doctor said: Your husband is in great need of rest. He needs to have time off work.

I was livid.

All of this because he cannot say no to overtime and always has to be available to work.

We got home, and he was so tired he went straight to bed and just flaked out. The next morning he didn’t wake up. I left to go to school and do my job. And when I got home later, he was still in bed and snoring like a baby.

He woke up a couple of hours later and I said that he should have some time off, but he said he couldn’t. That’s the problem — there is always work to be done, and it’s like there is no one else available to do it. And it’s not just my husband, it’s all the other staff too.

I told him he needed to take some time off and he said no. But I put my foot down and we agreed that he would take two days off.

He slept most of the time he was off work, but when he did wake up, he was more concerned about his job than his health.

I am really worried about this. It could be the end of him.


Reading Comprehension Questions


Who does Jennifer worry about?

Why does she worry about him?

Where does Jennifer’s husband work?

What is Jennifer’s job?

Where does Jennifer’s husband often go?

What do companies expect of their staff according to Jennifer?

What was Jennifer doing when she received the phone call from the police?

What did the police tell her?

What did the police first think about Jennifer’s husband?

Who came to the police station to check on Jennifer’s husband?

What did he say?

How long did Jennifer’s husband sleep when they got home?

How much time did he take off work?

How does Jennifer feel about this?


Essential Vocabulary



hours are crazy


business trips

trade fairs


needs must

aged five years

to do well


24 hours a day

to dare to say no


to come to a head

passed out





to freak out

to suffer from




great need



to flake out

snoring like a baby

put my foot down



end of him



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:

Notebooka small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when


“I left my notebook at home, so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”


Discussion Questions


Why is Jennifer’s husband working all the time? Why doesn’t he take some time off?

Do companies expect their staff to work very hard in your country? What do you think about this?

Do people get sick from working too much in your country? What can be done about it?

Why is modern working culture like this? Why can’t people tell their boss that they don’t work on weekends?

How many working hours a day/week is reasonable, do you think?

What is the legal number of working hours in one week in your country? Do you agree with this?

How much overtime is reasonable every week?

Do you think Jennifer’s husband could get a doctor’s note to show his boss? What would his boss think about this, do you think?

Is working hard a recent phenomenon? Or has it existed for years? If it is recent, what caused the change?

Do you work many hours every week? Do you do it for yourself or because your boss wants you to?

Staff would be more efficient if they had sufficient rest. Why do companies want them to work so many hours?

Are some industries worse than others? What kind of jobs do people work very long hours?

Do you or anyone you know work long hours? Tell the class about it.

What is a good work/life balance, do you think?


Work/Life Balance 1


This is a brainstorming session.

You should work together as one large group in the class.

Think of all the things that we need to do with our time. Not just sleeping, eating and working, but all the other things that we like to do or want to do.

Make a list of all the things and activities that people want to spend time on. One student should write all the things on the board.

Here are some ideas to think about:

  • hobbies/interests
  • learning a language
  • sport/exercise
  • spending time with family/children
  • going for a walk

But please add your own ideas. Try to fill the board with all your ideas.


Work/Life Balance 2


Divide the class into groups of four students.

In your group, put all the items from the previous exercise into different categories.

Examples of categories:

  • work
  • family
  • friends
  • life goals
  • exercise
  • mindfulness

Use these and create your own categories too.

It should look a little like this:


Once you have all the items in categories, now try to make a timetable for all of these items/categories. Your teacher should give you a schedule printout. (You can find all of these easily if you download the lesson plan — see the link at the beginning or below).

Maybe some tasks you do every day or on a regular basis – like eating, sleeping, working. But others may only be once a week – like dinner with family.

  • Is there enough time in the week to do it all?
  • What tasks do you have to keep?
  • What tasks do you lose? And why?

When you are ready, show the class your results. You should explain why some items you might do regularly. While others you may only do once a week or once a month.



Role Play


This is a role play exercise for two characters.

1. You are working for a company and you often work up to 60 or 70 hours a week. You feel exhausted but you must carry on or the boss will not be happy. It is starting to affect your life – you have trouble sleeping at night and you even have bad dreams about work. Your diet is terrible too – you live on a daily diet of fast food and coffee.

You have a meeting that you have to attend, so you can only talk with your friend for a short time. At some point, you should try to leave.


2. You are a good friend of the person above. You know they are working far too many hours and it is now making them very unhealthy. You want to tell your friend to not work so much. Try to encourage your friend to talk to the boss. See if your friend can do more healthy things in their life apart from just working.

Your friend looks so unhealthy. You are worried about this person and you want them to take time off work and relax.


The Situation

Two friends meet for coffee. The first friend is very busy and has an important meeting to attend. But the second friend wants to encourage the first friend to take more time off work and relax.

In pairs, prepare your role play. When you are ready, show the class and your teacher.




You want to write a letter to your boss.

You are working far too many hours every week and you need more time to do other things. You want to spend time with your family, with your friends. You also want to spend time doing activities you enjoy doing.

Your boss expects total loyalty from all the staff. So you have to be very discreet in how you word your letter.

But at the same time, you need to get your message across and be firm.

When you have finished your letter, you can read it out loud in class. Or give it to your teacher for assessment.



What did your students think of this lesson plan? Did they enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!


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