The Four Types of Harmonious Speech

Lesson Plan

The Four Types of Harmonious Speech

About This Resource

Summary Students are introduced to the concept of harmonious speech from the Buddhist tradition and explore how it arises in their own lives. The lesson includes group work, pair sharing, charting, and discussion.


Grade level

Grade 3 and up (age 8+). Can be adapted for younger students.


One hour session or two 45 minute sessions, more if extensions are explored.


The Buddha gave specific instructions on how to use speech when he taught the eightfold path. He said right speech means no lying, no harsh speech, no idle chatter, and no sowing discord. Instead language should be truthful, enriching, gentle, and intentional. In other Buddhist teachings, we find a checklist for speech. Is it: timely, factual and true, beneficial, spoken with good-will, endearing (that is, spoken gently, in a way the other person can hear), and timely. Occasionally something true, helpful, and kind will not be
endearing, or easy for someone to hear, in which case we think carefully about when to say it.

Why We Teach

Exploring the noble qualities of speech provides students with skills to communicate effectively and harmoniously in the classroom and in their lives.

Essential Question

How do I wish to use my voice in the world? What is the impact of my voice in this world?

Guiding Question
  • What kinds of speech are harmful and why?
  • What kinds of speech are beneficial and why?
  • What is our motivation each time we speak?
  • Students will know the difference between helpful and harmful speech and be able to express it verbally when asked.
  • Students will understand that following guidelines for harmonious speech can help families, classrooms, and society to suffer less and have more harmony.
  • Students will demonstrate an increased awareness of their own and others’ speech and reflect over time on how they are meeting any agreements the class created around speech.

For the complete lesson, access the Google document here:

The Four Types of Harmonious Speech

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