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ESL/EFL Lesson Plan – Intelligence

Updated on April 21, 2015

ESL Lesson Plan Contents

Level: Intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced.

Time: 60 minutes


  • Warm up activity.
  • Reading section.
  • Discussion questions.
  • Vocabulary match.
  • Intelligence quiz.
  • Answers.

ESL Lesson Plan - Intelligence


Warm Up

  • Do you think you are smart? Out of 10, what would you rate yourself?
  • Now ask your partner to rate you out of 10.
  • Name someone you know personally who is very intelligent. Give reasons.
  • Name a celebrity that you believe to be intelligent. Give reasons.

EFL/ESL Reading - Intelligence

How much does IQ contribute to a person's intelligence and how much is influenced by genes and environment? These questions have been dogging scientists for years and this has given rise to many different ways of investigating intelligence. Here are a few of the more novel studies:


In 2010 an Israeli study was carried out involving 20,000 young men. Here are the results: Smokers had an IQ of 94 and non-smokers had an IQ of 101. Furthermore, the men who smoked more than a pack a day had an IQ of 90. Among siblings, the non-smoking brother was smarter.


Research into children between the ages of 4-6 suggests that taking music lessons improves their range of vocabulary. Another study revealed that 6-year-olds who took 9 months of piano lessons were smarter than kids who took none at all. Although it must be said that better educated children are more likely to take music lessons.

Position in the family

In 2007 a study was carried out that answered some questions that families had been wondering about for a long time. It seems that the eldest sibling in the family had a slight edge, an average of about 3 points. The explanation the scientists offer is that at some point they were the only child and benefited from 100% of their parents' attention.

A healthy weight

In 2006 a French study used 2200 adults over a 5 year period to test cognitive ability. The results were as follows: People with a Body Mass Index of 20 could recall 56% of the words in a vocabulary test, while adults with a BMI of 30 could remember 44% (BMI – the optimal BMI is between 18 and 25) . Even 5 years later, when the subjects were retested, those with a higher BMI continued to have a lower recall rate.


A study in 2014 looked at 600 college students who identified themselves either as a 'dog person' or a 'cat person'. While dog lovers were more likely to be outgoing, it seems the cat people were more open-minded and non-conformists. They also performed better at the intelligence tests. The results suggested that cat people are more introverted and sensitive and they would rather stay at home, say reading a book, than go out walking a dog.

Other studies claim that those who were breast-fed, tall people, left-handed people and hairy men are more gifted and as a result, successful.


Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of the article?
  2. What's your opinion of intelligence tests?
  3. Have you heard of any other categories of people who are more intelligent? For example, redheads, mental illness, alcoholics...etc.
  4. Do you smoke?
  5. Do you have a sibling who smokes? Who is smarter?
  6. Are you a cat person, a dog person or neither?
  7. Do you know any people who have cats and dogs? Do you agree with the claims of the study?
  8. Did you think that the eldest siblings are more conscientious and likely to achieve academically? Describe your siblings.
  9. Ann Widdecombe, the former British Tory minister, after hearing about the research said, “You just need to look around the world and you will see hundreds of thin nitwits and clever fat people... When I lost weight it was my waistline that improved, not my cerebellum.” Discuss her statement.
  10. Professor James Flynn studied IQ test scores over the last 60 years and noticed that IQ has been rising slowly every decade by about 3 points. Why do you think that is?
  11. Describe something you have seen on YouTube or T.V. that you thought was incredibly stupid.
  12. Discuss the last sentence of the article.
  13. Do you know anyone who has a dog, smokes, eats too much, is not the oldest in the family and never had music lessons, who is also intelligent?

Vocabulary Match

Find the words in the article and underline them. .
Then match them to their meanings
To cause something to exist
A problem that causes persistent trouble for someone.
slight edge
Brothers or sisters.
A small advantage.
A shy person.
A person whose behaviour, beliefs or practices do not conform with the rest of society.
Interestingly new or unusual.
given rise to
The mental action of processing knowledge and understanding it.
Willing to consider new ideas.

Other Hubs

How do you improve peoples' bad behaviour? By using colours, lemons and music of course!

Try out this unusual ESL Discussion Activity - Crowd Control for Intermediate and above levels.

Intelligence Quiz

This is an old intelligence test used to evaluate reasoning and intelligence. Have fun!

1. What relation is your niece's brother to you?

  • Don't know
  • Cousin
  • Nephew
  • Uncle
  • Son

2. How many birthdays does the average man have?

  • Don't know
  • 1
  • 10
  • 65
  • 75

3. Some months have 31 days; how many have 28?

  • Don't know
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 9
  • 12

4. Is it legal for a man in Wales to marry his widow's sister?

  • Don't know
  • No
  • Yes

5. Divide 30 by 1/2 and add 10. What do you get?

  • Don't know
  • 10
  • 25
  • 50
  • 70
  • 90

6. If there are 3 carrots and you take 2 away, how many do you have?

  • Don't know
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

7. A doctor gives you three tablets and tells you to take one every half hour. How many minutes would the tablets last?

  • Don't know
  • 20
  • 40
  • 60
  • 90

8. A farmer has 17 horses, and all but 9 die. How many horses are left?

  • Don't know
  • 1
  • 3
  • 5
  • 8
  • 9

9. How many animals of each sex did Moses take on the ark?

  • Don't know
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0

10. How many two cent stamps are there in a dozen?

  • Don't know
  • 1
  • 3
  • 6
  • 9
  • 12

11. You are participating in a marathon. You overtake the second person. What position are you now in?

  • Don't know
  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd

12. This must be done in your head only. You MUST NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator.

Take a thousand and add forty to it. Now add another thousand. Now add thirty. Add another thousand. Now add twenty. Now add another thousand. Now add ten. What is the total?

  • Don't know
  • 5000
  • 6000
  • 4100

13. Mary's father has five daughters. They are called Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono. What is the fifth daughter's name?

  • Don't know
  • Nano
  • Mary
  • Nunu

ESL Lesson Plan Answers to Intelligence Quiz

  1. Nephew
  2. Just one.
  3. 12 - all of them.
  4. No - because he is dead!
  5. 70
  6. 2 - you took them, remember?
  7. 60 - Start with the 1st pill, 30 minutes later take the 2nd, then 30 minutes for the 3rd.
  8. 9
  9. 0 - Moses didn't have an ark, Noah did.
  10. 12 - There are twelve 2 cent stamps in a dozen.
  11. 2nd - If you overtake the second person and you take his place, you're second.
  12. 4100 - Did you get 5000? Check it again.
  13. Mary.

Credited sources: and

© 2015 Muttface


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