Whether you choose Christmas stories, carols, or crafts to share with your ESL students during this very special time of year, don’t forget to also include a Christmas lesson with video! Video lessons are a great way to help your students hone their listening skills, and videos are perfect for showing how English-speaking cultures celebrate Christmas.
Here’s how to teach the perfect Christmas lesson with video:
How To Proceed
Decide what you’ll be showing the video for
Will you be showing the video:
- to show your students typical American Christmas customs?
- to teach some Christmas vocabulary?
- to practice listening comprehension?
- to simply have fun?
It’s important to identify your goal, as it will guide you towards picking out the right video, one that will help you accomplish this goal.
Choose your Christmas video
Fortunately for us, there is a large variety of Christmas videos we can use in the ESL classroom. Some classic favorites include:
- Frosty the Snowman
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- It’s a Wonderful Life
Then, there are the versions of A Christmas Carol, like Mickey’s Christmas Carol. If you don’t have a copy of any of these on DVD, go to FanPop.com, where you’ll find these and other Christmas videos that you may watch with a small group of students online. You have 101 videos to choose from, including feature films, TV specials, cartoons, music videos, and even TV commercials. Decide whether you want to focus on Christmas traditions, vocabulary, or listening comprehension, and choose the one that best suits your language goals, your students’ ages, and English level.
Give your students pre-viewing activities
For any Christmas video, it's a good idea to teach Christmas vocabulary first. You can use any of our wonderful worksheets in our Christmas section for this purpose; don’t miss out on this fabulous Christmas Materials Package, just packed with activities, but also very useful picture flashcards. The best activities to teach Christmas vocabulary are word searches, crossword puzzles, or any other vocabulary-focused activity. Depending on the video, you may also wish to introduce other relevant vocabulary words. If on the other hand, your goal is to teach Christmas customs, begin by asking students what they usually do for Christmas in their country of origin.
Give your students viewing tasks
These vary depending on the length of the video and your students' level. Some possible viewing tasks may include comprehension questions, matching exercises, or a gap-filling exercise. It is recommended that your split longer videos into sections, pause the video at the right times, ask students to complete a task, then continue to the next section of the video.
Give your students post-viewing tasks
Some of these tasks may include:
- Retelling the story through a comic strip
- Telling the story in one tense, then retelling in another tense.
- A writing task that is appropriate to the story, for example, for any video with A Christmas Carol theme, ask students to write a paragraph about what the Ghost of Christmas Past (or Present or Future) would have shown them.
- Ask students to write a dialogue, like a conversation where Scrooge tells his nephew about the amazing visitors he had and what they showed him. Students then act out their conversation.
End the lesson with a fun game or activity
A Christmas lesson should invoke the holiday spirit, so reward your students with some fun games after they’ve completed their tasks. This Christmas Holiday Trivia Game is absolutely perfect for this! Christmas Bingo is another great option. And don't forget your youngest learners might enjoy some quiet time with some fun Christmas coloring pages. Now’s also a great time to sing some popular Christmas carols and songs; if you don't know which ones to pick, simply sing those that were featured in the video you watched. Watch Frosty the Snowman, and teach your young learners the song!
Whether you choose to show them an original classic like, It’s a Wonderful Life, or a new favorite like The Madagascar Penguins’ Christmas Caper, holiday videos give you a unique opportunity to not only teach your students a little bit more about other Christmas customs, but also share a memorable lesson with them.