Can Money Buy Happiness? – an ESL Lesson

Talking about money is always a great way to get ESL students talking, particularly in China. Money is probably more important here than anywhere in the world, and everyone has a strong opinion about it. It’s not taboo to talk about salaries or rents or anything to do with money, so it’s a great ESL topic.

For this lesson, I start off with the song, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by the Beatles. It’s a fun song that gets the lesson going in a really positive way. I ask the following questions:

Which of the following best describes the singer?

a) He loves money

b) He needs more money

c) He doesn’t care about money

d) His girlfriend has spent all his money

Choose the Correct Lyric

I’ll buy you a wedding/diamond/dollar ring my friend,
If it makes you feel right/awkward/alright,
I’ll get you everything/anything/somethingmy friend,
If it makes you be/feel/see alright,
Cause I don’t have/care/carry too much for money,
Money can’t give/bring/buy me love.

I’ll give/leave/save you all I’ve got to give,
If you say you love me to/too/tow,
I say/day/may not have a lot to give,
But was/what/that I got I’ll give to you,
I don’t care too match/much/munchfor money.
Money can’t buy me/my/mine love.

After that, I push the students into a discussion. I’ll give them about ten minutes to talk over these questions: 

Discuss the Song

1.   What sort of personality do you think the singer has?

2. Do you think money is important for him?

3. What are some things that “money just can’t buy”?

4. Do you agree that money can’t buy love? Why?

5. How important is money to you?

6. Do you save money or do you spend it easily?

7. Can money buy happiness?

a. If yes, then how?

b. If no, then why not?

8. Do you think you would be happier if you had lots of money? Why?

Watch the Video

Next, I’ll show them an interesting TED Talk video about money and do the questions in the link.
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I'm the founder and editor of Beatdom Literary Journal, author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. I'm also a teacher and operate the popular website, TED-IELTS.

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