Christmas in the ESL Classroom

With the holiday season fast approaching, you could probably use some tips on what to teach in your ESL classroom over the coming week. In Taiwan, we are usually expected to work on Christmas Day, so finding ways to make lessons related to Christmas will help you keep the holiday spirit you were used to at home-a good idea regardless of what country you are teaching in! It will also give you the chance to share more about your culture, which is of course a big part of teaching English.

So how can you make the holiday spirit a part of your classroom? First, you need to know what your students already “get.” A good way to check their understanding of Christmas is by starting your class off with a brainstorming session. Divide the students into teams and ask them to come up with words related to Christmas. There are several ways you could make this into a fun game. You could ask the younger ones to draw and then teach the words. For older students, you could create a “relay race” to the board and have them write the words themselves. Make it fun and give points to each team that can think of a word related to Christmas.

Once a good amount of vocabulary has been generated, add a few words of your own that they might have missed-we shouldn’t expect them to come up with everything. Christmas Bingo is always popular with students. Many ESL web sites now have sections where you can use your own vocabulary words to create Christmas Bingo cards, word searches, and other worksheet activities. Explore some of the links below to find more ideas!

Your students might also be interested to know how Christmas is celebrated all over the world, not just in your home country. For example, some countries use a different calendar and celebrate a more orthodox version of Christmas. In Armenia, Santa comes on New Year’s Eve so as to not take away any of the religious spirit of Christmas. In Latvia, presents are left under the tree each of the 12 days of Christmas, which starts on Christmas Eve. A little bit of research will give you enough information to compare different cultures and explain to your students that not all countries celebrate Christmas alike.

Whatever you decide to do to incorporate the holidays into your classroom, it’s always good to be prepared! Here are some links that will help you come up with ideas on how to make the holiday season more fun and interesting:

ESL Cafe:

ESL Flow:

Sample Lesson Plan:


Make Worksheets:

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