Valentines and White Day in the ESL Classroom

Talking about Valentines and White day in the ESL classroom can be met with a number of reactions. Depending on the age of your students, talk of love and romance may be met with “Awww,”  “Ewww.”  Either way, Valentine’s Day is a huge part of our culture, and your students will love setting aside some time to have fun with it.  

locksWhite day is the Asian version of valentines day and it happens a month after the western valentines day. If you put in a little thought and planning, you can go a lot farther than just making the typical Valentine’s Day cards, and teach your students a lot of interesting culture and useful vocabulary using Valentine’s Day as a jumping off point.

You probably won’t have time to dedicate an entire class to Valentine’s Day, but with what time you do have, you can find a way to make it fun and inclusive for all your students.  Before I jump into giving you some great resources for specific worksheets and games, here are a few basic tips for teaching Valentine’s Day and white day in your ESL Classroom:

  • Keep the emphasis on gratitude for friends and family, rather than on dating and romantic love. If your students are at an age where they can appreciate romance and dating, they’re probably also at an age where broken hearts and drama abound.  Keep as clear of it as you can by keeping your Valentine’s Day lesson relatively platonic.
  • Spend some time talking about how they celebrate Valentine’s/White Day in your students’ culture. Chances are they celebrate some version of it, but you may find that their thoughts on it and their traditions are different than what you grew up with.
  • Talk about ways people demonstrate affection in different cultures. Every culture has its own ways of showing affection and love, and you may be surprised to learn from your students about how greetings between loved ones in their culture are different than in your home culture.
  • Briefly touch upon the history of Valentine’s/White Day. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail, but a brief mention of when it started, and who St. Valentine was can add a lot of depth to your lesson and generate a lot more interest in the holiday.

Resources:

Vocabulary and Worksheets

Anglomaniacy has a good selection of high-quality Valentine’s Day printables, mostly geared toward beginner to lower-intermediate ESL students.

These worksheets from Busy Teacher aren’t specifically for ESL students, but more advanced learners will be able to benefit a lot from these worksheets based around stories, popular movie summaries, and love song lyrics.

Here is a good list of words related to family and different familial relationships.

This site has a good list of printable worksheets, wordscrambles, and activities geared toward getting kids using Valentine’s Day vocabulary.

Games and Activities

This site makes their own Valentine’s Day hearts based off of candy hearts is a fun activity for intermediate to advanced students. This site has some ideas and details.

Busy Teacher  has a fun list of simple, low-prep activities to do with your ESL class.

Over at ESL Holiday Lessons, they’ve got a great series of activities, worksheets, and games, all designed to tie in together and build upon each other to reinforce vocabulary and grammar patterns associated with Valentine’s day.  You probably won’t have time to go through their whole Valentine’s Day lesson, but it’s still a great resource pick and choose activities that work for your class.

This extensive list of games and crafts will give you plenty of ideas to adapt for your classroom.

Here is another hodgepodge of game ideas, crafts, and printables, all of which will work great in an ESL classroom.

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