Christmas is a holiday that adults enjoy as much as children.
The preparations, the shopping for gifts, the cooking, and the singing is not hard for a grown-up to get into the spirit of Christmas. So, with this in mind, why not give your adult ESL learners a Christmas lesson they'll never forget? This is a great opportunity for students who come from different backgrounds to share things about their culture and learn from others. It’s also a wonderful way to practice all four skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
And here's how you do it:
How To Proceed
Talk about what we usually do to celebrate Christmas
Ask students what they usually do during the holiday season, how they prepare for Christmas, and what they do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you have students from different countries, ask them what they will be doing for Christmas this year. Will they be doing anything differently? Will they try out something new? What do they usually do in their country of origin?
Talk about Christmas celebrations around the world
Ask students who are familiar with other customs to tell the class about them. Do they know about Christmas celebrations in other countries? Which countries? Are they very different from typical North-American or European customs? Has anyone ever been to a South American country for Christmas? Or any country where it was hot, and there was no snow for Christmas? Take as long as you want, but make sure students are fully engaged in the discussion.
Read about Christmas celebrations around the world
There are a lot of websites where you can get this information, but Santa’s Net has a wonderful collection of traditions from around the world. Choose a few and print them out for your class, or have them read the pages directly on a computer or laptop. Don’t forget to introduce key vocabulary before reading. At BusyTeacher.org, we have some great worksheets in our Christmas section, like the Christmas Traditions around the World worksheet and the Christmas Traditions Quiz, which are great post-reading activities.
Watch a Christmas video
Now that your students are more familiar with Christmas vocabulary and traditions, they should be ready to watch a Christmas video! Choose one that is appropriate to your students' level. Highly recommended for upper-intermediate to advanced students is The History Channel's Christmas Unwrapped: The Truth about Christmas, a fascinating documentary about the true origins of many modern day Christmas symbols and customs. At FanPop.com you can watch all five parts of the video, but the first 10 minutes gives you plenty of information to work with. There are also several other videos to choose from. Don’t forget to provide short pre-viewing, viewing, and post-viewing activities.
Give them a speaking task
The speaking task should relate to the video they’ve just watched. Give them roles to play out: One student could be a famous historian and another the interviewer who asks questions about the origins of some Christmas traditions; or one student could be travelling to a foreign country and another student offers information on how Christmas is celebrated there.
Give them a writing assignment
Here are some suggestions for Christmas writing assignments, which you may adapt to your students’ level:
Assign the writing task for homework if you’re short on time.
- Give them writing prompts to begin a Christmas story: “Sally took the last batch of gingerbread cookies from the oven. Suddenly,…” etc.
- Give them an essay topic “Is Christmas more about shopping than the birth of Jesus these days?; Describe a Christmas memory from your childhood; What is Christmas really about? “
Wrap up the lesson with a Christmas carol!
Choose any Christmas carol or song where several typical Christmas traditions and activities are mentioned, like making a snowman, riding sleighs, roasting chestnuts, etc. Ask students to listen to the song and identify which of these activities or traditions are mentioned.
Everyone knows it's easy to plan a Christmas lesson with kids, but don’t leave your adult ESL learners out of the holiday fun! They may not have coloring pages, crafts, or crossword puzzles, but they'll enjoy their Christmas lesson just the same!
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