Christmas lesson ideas: 5 great activities for English classes

* This article was written by the entire Teacher Training team at EFA

The Christmas season is nigh upon us and it’s a great time of year to focus on building classroom rapport and bring some light relief into learning.  We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite TEFL Christmas lessons and activities from our team of CertTESOL trainers for you.

1. Happy Thoughts

This is a great activity to do with primary upwards to adult on the last day of the course or term and helps to build rapport by making students think about their classmates positively. Give each student a small pack of post-its. Explain that they will write compliments for every single person in the class, and in return get compliments themselves. Give them some language focus (such as positive adjectives, or sentence construction) and some practice in how to form these statements, e.g. ‘I like your smile, it’s very sweet’, ‘you are very kind’, ‘You are very funny, you always make me laugh’, ‘thank you for helping me on my homework, you are awesome’. The condition is that they can’t repeat the compliment, it can only be used once, and every compliment has to be personal and positive for every student in the class. They write their compliment on the post-it and stick it on people’s backs (have some tape handy in case the post-it doesn’t stick). At the end, they find a partner and sit down together. They take turns pulling off the post-its off everyone’s backs and reading them aloud to their partner. As a final task, they can put all their compliments on the back cover of their course books or files to keep as a reminder of their classmates.

2. The Right Santa

For adult learners, try this activity to bring a festive context to job hunting.  The lesson is about finding the right Santa candidate for a shopping centre at Christmas. The fun element comes in with crazy characters applying for the position – choose well-known celebrities and make up a few questionable characters, e.g. Dolly Parton, Cher, a recluse, an angry drunk, etc.  Production activities can be varied – applying for the Santa position from the viewpoint of one of these characters or themselves, being the interview panel for job selection, roleplays and group discussions on who they would choose. 

3. Christmas Songs

Justin Bieber’s ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ is a great song to use for vocabulary or grammar work.  Pre-teach key vocabulary from songs and have some large colour images of the vocabulary printed out on flashcards. This can be done as a whole class activity or groups (on their tables). Stick the flashcards on the board or tables , and play the song. Learners have to slap or grab the flashcard from the board or table when they hear it. This can be done in 2 teams if done as a whole class board race.

4. Family traditions

Christmas is not the only winter festival, so a group project or survey on family traditions is sure to inspire a lot of discussion.  Elicit different winter festivals that are celebrated in class, e.g. Channukah, Kwanzaa, Winter solstice, Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc and introduce the idea of ‘family traditions’ that are only done during these festivals. Include a few personal anecdotes and a language focus (adverbs of frequency would be a nice choice – ‘At Chinese New Year, we often wear….’). Introduce the form and give learners some practice, like sentence completion or construction, or a gap-fill activity, before moving on to general group discussions. You can ask learners to write down the different family traditions in their group and present them on a colourful poster to display in class, or do a whole class survey and present findings to the class.

5. General knowledge quiz

Having an end of year, last day general knowledge quiz with prizes is always a great way to recap previously taught language as well as including fun elements such as pop culture, current affairs, history, geography, etc. Split the class into 2 teams. The easiest format is asking questions and awarding points, but other ways that engage are using a Blockbusters-style template, or Jeopardy-style format. This is a great way to activate schemata and stimulate classroom rapport.  Prizes could be points, with winners choosing a pop video of your choice to watch, fun-size bars of chocolate or candy, or mini-stationery.

Happy festive fun, teachers...unless of course you'd like to brush up on a little extra CPD over the holidays!

About the Author

Sharon Maloney

Sharon has worked as Director of Studies for English for Asia and a teacher trainer on the Trinity CertTESOL course. She has over 14 years of teaching and teacher training experience in TESOL. Sharon specialises in teaching young learners and creating material for teachers and students, as well as running professional development workshops for local teachers of young learners in Hong Kong and Macao. Her qualifications include a BA, Trinity CertTESOL, Cambridge Post-Graduate DELTA, and MA TESOL.

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