In Emotional Intelligence in ESL classrooms

Which one are you?



This is an activity I experienced myself as a participant in Positive Discipline + Training Courses. The group dynamics had an impact on us participants when we happened to find people in our same group with very very similar ways to reacting to things, situations or circumstances. Also to find out qualities that we weren’t even a-w-a-r-e of having and recognise them in others. Self awareness helps build up self-esteem and it improves self-regulation. These are key issues in mediation, conflict resolution, and decision making, for instance.


Self awareness helps build up self-esteem and it improves self-regulation


I adapted the same group dynamics to this activity for my students, as a follow-up to a Reading task on personality traits from our textbook. The students enjoyed the task when they could find out more about themselves, which often helps when we relate to ourselves and to others.

The exercise is simple and effective. You can limit it to just one stage or add more, depending on how well it works with your group or how motivated you are yourself to facilitate this practice!


four boxes


STAGE ONE: Have four nice gift boxes ready and some flashcards to fill in each box. Name each box (1) pleasing, (2) control, (3) comfort and (4) superiority, and  place each box in a different corner of the classroom. For example, north – pleasing, south – control, east – comfort, west – superiority. Then invite your students to read the question on the board and take a few minutes to answer the question to themselves.

Question: what would you say is the most difficult thing for you to put up with:

rejection and hassles,

criticism and ridicule,

stress and pain or

meaningless and unimportance.


When they have an answer ask them to move to their base (north, south, east or west).  If the answer is «rejection and hassles» their Top card is (1) Pleasing. If «criticism and ridicule» their Top card is (2) Control. If «stress and pain» Top card is (3) Comfort. If «meaningless and unimportance» Top card is (4) Superiority.

At their base they will find a box with flashcards describing some «Positives» for each Top Card. Ask them to pick up one card each, read the description and express agreement or disagreement to the rest of the people in their small group.




STAGE TWO: Remove the «positives» flashcards from the boxes and put in the second set of cards: Hints. Explain to them that if they know a person in the class (or outside) who might fit one of the Top Cards description, today they will be given a little hint to relate to this person more satisfactorily. Perhaps a daughter, a boss, their next door neighbour, or even their husbands or wives! Then invite them to pick up a new card in the box with this piece of information. Allow some time for discussion.


When working with adjectives of personality, I sometimes use show this «Feeling faces» chart as an add-on (you might find this chart useful too as a reference in conflict resolution situations during class meetings).




Mediation in Education and other fields is thriving at the moment. An important part of Mediation is based on communicating effectively, relating satisfactorily, and having good social skills. Communicating may be more satisfactory and effective when the parts involved are more aware of themselves, can express how they feel, and respect the same in others.


Adapted from To know me is to love me by Lott, L, Matulich K., M and West, D. [Positive Discipline +]



La vida, sin prisa

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