Longevity - Five countries' secrets [55-Minute Lesson]

Written by Orfhlaith Saunders


I. Warm-up

A. Conversation

1. What is longevity? Read a definition here. What do you think is the key to longevity?

2. What are some of the benefits of getting older?

3. What are some of the problems we might face as we get older? 

4. Some people say 'You are as old as you feel'. Do you agree with this statement? Why/ why not?


B. Vocabulary

Directions: Match the following words and expressions (1 - 7) with their definitions below (a - g):


1. a centenarian (n)

2. to have (sth) up one's sleeve (expr.)

3. state-of-the-art (expr.)

4. average (adj)

5. plentiful (adj)

6. wellbeing (n)

7. life expectancy (n)



a. The state of feeling healthy and happy

b. A great amount of something, abundant

c. Someone who has reached the age of one hundred years

d. The length of time that someone is likely to live

e. The latest and most advanced stage of technology, science, or art

f. To have a secret plan or idea

g. A typical amount, rate, or level, which is considered the standard or usual


II. Reading

Directions: Before reading, preview the comprehension questions. After reading, reread the sentences that contain the vocabulary words. Then explain the meanings of the sentences.


A. Text: Five countries where people live the longest

Click here  to read the BBC article written by Lindsey Galloway



B. Comprehension Questions

1. What factors contributing to longevity do all these countries have in common?

2. What is the average life expectancy in each of these countries?

3. One of the most important contributing factors is the diet in these countries. What are the staple foods of these diets?

4. Why is it considered important to socialise in order to live longer? What is the "therapeutic park"?

5. Which of these countries are most well-known for their healthcare systems?


III. Grammar

A. Verbs + preposition 'to'

Some verbs are commonly followed by the preposition 'to'. Here are some examples of these verbs from the text:

talk (to sb) - give (sth to sb) - contribute (to sth) - tend (to do sth) - force (sb to do sth) - go (to a place) - move (to a place) - live (to an age)


Some other verbs commonly followed by 'to' are:

decide: I decided to go for a walk and clear my head. 

forget: Don't forget to bring your wallet this time. 

listen: Are you listening to me?

learn: Here you can learn to express yourself in English more fluently. 

prefer: Would you prefer to play a videogame or watch a film?

remember: Will you remember to tell Paul I called?

want: I want to start eating healthier from now on.  



B. Exercises

Exercise 1. Sentence halves. 

Directions: The following sentences contain examples of the verbs above, taken from the text. Match the first half of each sentence (1 - 5) to the second half (a - e): 

1. We talked to...  a) ... the local diet. 
2. Living to...  b) ... be within walking distance
3. Much credit for this has been given to...  c) ... residents in some of the countries where people live the longest. 
4. When I moved to...  d) ... 83 on average, the Japanese have long had one of the highest life expectancies.
5. Shops and restaurants all tend to...  e) ... Barcelona from Moscow, I noticed that people here favour walking or biking



Exercise 2. Speaking practice

Directions: Answer the following questions using the verbs + 'to' presented above. 

1. What age would you like to live to?

2. How often do you go to restaurants for lunch? 

3. Have you ever moved to another country or city?

4. Do you ever talk to your neighbours?

5. What activities do you tend to do in your free time? 


IV. Vocabulary Review

[In this section, re-type the vocabulary words from the warm-up section. Have your students apply the vocabulary to their lives in some way. Possibilities: Put together collocations, then make sentences; ask open-ended questions; ask students to provide examples; create word families. If possible, include the grammar you just covered in the previous exercise.]

Directions: Fill in the gaps in the following sentences using the vocabulary learnt previously in this lesson

centenarian - to have (sth) up one's sleeve (expr.) - state-of-the-art (expr.) - average (adj) - plentiful (adj) - wellbeing (n) - life expectancy (n)

1. This car was built with ____________ technology. 

2. Fruits are a ________ source of vitamins. 

3. My great-grandma has recently appeared in the local newspaper as on her last birthday she became a ___________ !

4. Pandas have a ___________ of 15 - 20 years in the wild, though they live up to 30 in captivity. 

5. Don’t worry, I’ll help you out, I ________ a few tricks ____________ .

6. The care and ____________ of patients should always come first. 

7. On _________ , children start talking around the age of two. 

V. Wrap-up

A. Conversation

1. What do you think we can learn from the countries we have read about in this lesson? What do you think is the key to live a long healthy life?

2. Which of those five countries would you choose to live in? Why?



B. Writing

Directions: choose one of the following topics, a) or b), to write a short essay about using some of the vocabulary and grammar from above

  a) What habits can we change in our lives in order to live longer?

  b) What would you do if you were to live forever?


C. Possible lessons for next class


1. Title: [Name of lesson]

    Skill area: 

    Click here for the lesson.


2. Title: [Name of lesson]

    Skill area: 


    Click here for the lesson.


Photo Credits:  

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Grammar Point: