New Year’s Day has come and gone, and most of us are still adjusting to having to remember the year is no longer 2012. January is a great month to focus on new beginnings and goals for the year that has just started. And it's also a great time to do this with your ESL learners.
Here are some suggestions for a New Year’s lesson your students will remember throughout the year.
Bring on the resolutions!
There’s no better way to start the year than on a positive note. Discuss with students the concept of resolutions: what they are, why people make them, why people break them, etc… Brainstorm the types of New Year resolutions adults usually make: lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier foods, etc...
Ask your students if they have they made any resolutions yet. If they have, they may choose to share them with the class. If they haven't, they may come up with some resolutions of their own. Try using this great My New Year's Resolutions Worksheet to inspire more positive thoughts, and help them hone their writing skills, too!
Then, how about practicing predictions with will and won’t? Try this worksheet where students have to guess what their classmates have resolved to do in the New Year.
Although it’s not a holiday that typically inspires arts and crafts, there are some fabulous projects that will get your students’ creative juices flowing.
- New Year’s craft for young ESL learners:
Ask your students to draw two pictures: one of something they enjoyed in the year that has just passed, like a special trip or event; and another of something they are looking forward to or hope to accomplish.
- Create your own class calendar
Teach or review the names of the months in English. Divide the class into 12 groups, give each group a calendar template, and assign each a month to work on. Each group has to decorate and create a page for their month. Put all of the pages together and use this very special class calendar to jot down birthdays, holidays, and special events.
Our New Year is not the only New Year
Some of your students may be aware of the fact that other cultures celebrate the New Year in different dates. But now’s a good time as any to discuss these differences.
- Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which was celebrated this past September. The year 5771 began on September 8 at sunset. Ask the Jewish students in the class to share how they celebrate the New Year.
- Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 3, and so the Year of the Snake will begin. Surely your students know their zodiac sign, but how many know their Chinese zodiac sign? Wouldn't it be fun for them to find out? Use these wonderful Chinese New Year coloring pages with your youngest learners.
New Year’s Game: Picture this Resolution
Hand out 4 to 6 slips of paper to each student and ask them to write a New Year's resolution on each. Mix them up and put them in a bag or hat. Divide your students into two teams. Each student has to take a resolution from the bag and draw it on the board, without using any words or speaking at all. His or her teammates have to guess what the resolution is. The team that guesses the most wins.
New Year’s Readings
A great way to finish a New Year’s lesson is with some in-class reading. Try any of these suggested titles:
Happy New Year Everywhere! – by Arlene Erlbach, illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm
This book geared towards children between 4 and 8 provides lots of colorful illustrations and information on how New Year’s is celebrated in over 20 countries.
New Year’s Day (True Books) - by Dana Meachen Rau
Children ages 9 to 12 get a little more background information on the history of New Year's Day, going all the way back to when Pope Gregory XIII set it for January 1st.
Celebrating Chinese New Year – by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith, photographs by Lawrence Migdale
For children 4 to 8, this is a great book to complement any activities you may have lined up for your class in reference to Chinese New Year.
If you haven’t done so yet, take the time with your class to look back on the year that just passed and check on the learning goals they may have set at the start of the school year. If they didn’t set any back in September, now’s a great time to do so.
And be sure to browse our New Year’s Section, where you’ll find worksheets and activities to make January a month filled with positive, fun resolutions.