When you teach a language, you’re usually teaching a lot of vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary are the words we use and grammar is how we organize them in a way so that people understand what we’re saying.
However, native English teachers, especially those teaching ESL abroad are often expected to be a cultural ambassador as well. In essence, they are expected to show students what life is like in their countries. And of course, even if this isn’t explicitly stated by an employer, language is intertwined with culture and it’s hard to separate the two.
Christmas is a popular holiday in the USA and Canada, as well as Europe and in many other countries around the world. Even in countries where Christianity isn’t a major religion, it’s often a holiday.
It can be an interesting class for the students to do some ESL Christmas activities to share a little bit of what this holiday means to you. Plus, your students will certainly encounter some new vocabulary words that they’re never seen before.
Let’s get to some of my favourite ESL Christmas activities that you can try out with your students today.
ESL Christmas Games and Activities
Are you ready to get to it? Keep on reading for my top picks for Christmas related ESL games and activities that you can try out in your classes today.
#1: Christmas Charades
If you’re looking for a fun game for a Christmas party class, then you’ll definitely want to consider charades. The only requirement is that your students know a number of vocabulary words related to this topic. If they don’t, then consider doing something like this listening comprehension exercise (see below) with them first.
Divide your class up into two teams. Then, one person from the first team draws a word out of the hat. They have to act it out and their team guesses. Then, it’s on to the next team.
Learn more about it here: Charades for ESL/EFL Students.
Alternatively, you could do this by drawing as well (Pictionary).
#2: Listening Comprehension (Christmas Themed)
If you want your Christmas lesson to have some educational value and not just be purely fun and games, then you may want to consider using this listening comprehension video. Of course, make a lesson plan to use with it (more details about listening lesson plans here).
Of course, you should do some things in your class so that your students get the most value out of it. Here are some ideas:
- Set the context by having students discuss their experiences with Christmas with a partner. Or, beginners can just say some words they associate with this holiday.
- Assign some simple true/false questions for the first listen. Students answer them, compare with a partner and then the entire class.
- Assign some more difficult comprehension questions and have students listen a second time. Again, they compare with a partner, then the whole class.
- Finish with a follow-up activity related to Christmas. Choose something else from this list of Christmas activities for ESL students, or use your imagination!
#3: Christmas Bingo
Let’s get real here, who doesn’t love a good Bingo game, right? Basically everyone does, which is why this can make quite a fun ESL Christmas game.
You can make up a Christmas themed one for your students, but you may have to pre-teach them some vocabulary. I usually choose around 30 words that I have on a PowerPoint. Or, even better, elicit Christmas words from your students and write them on the whiteboard. Give students a blank grid, and they can choose which words to include and where to put them.
And because I’m all about learning English, even on “fun” party days in class, I don’t do the regular Bingo where you just say the word. Instead, I describe the word and students have to choose the correct one. Learn more here: ESL Speaking Bingo.
Quick teaching tip about Bingo: Get student to just cross off each word with an X, instead of scribbling it out entirely so that you can check answers at the end. And of course, bring a small prize for the winner of each round!
Top 20 Christmas ESL Games
For even more ideas, you’ll want to check out these ESL games that are mostly for kids. Of course, adults can have some fun with them too!
#4: I’m Going to Eat ____ for Christmas Dinner
If your students know lots of Christmas vocabulary, particularly related to food, then you’ll want to consider playing this memory circle game. In a smaller class of fewer than 10 students, play it all together. Or, in a bigger class, you can divide students up into smaller groups.
The first person starts the game off with, “At Christmas dinner, I’m going to eat ____.” The next person repeats what the first person said, but adds their own food on to the list.
Each following person has to repeat all the foods in the exact order. If they make a mistake, they sit down and they’re out of the game. Continue on until only 1 person is left standing.
More details here: Memory Circle Game.
#5: Christmas Puzzles or Word Searches
Who doesn’t like a good word search or puzzle, right? If you have to bit of a quieter activity to do for your Christmas class, then consider making some worksheets for your students.
With the following resource, it’s extremely quick and easy to do this: Discovery’s PuzzleMaker.
#6: Write Greeting Cards
Nothing shows some Christmas love than a stack of greeting cards! Show your students some samples of greeting cards and teach them some common phrases or saying that you can find on them.
Then, they can make their own cards for friends or family members, of even the other students in your class. Be sure to get them to add a personal greeting or message if your students are a big higher-level.
For advanced students, you could also show them an example of a Christmas letter, and then get them to write their own about what’s happening in their life. This could also be a good homework activity for them.
#7: Sing Christmas Carols
It can be a fun time to sing some Christmas carols with your students. Don’t worry. You don’t have a to a pro singer. That’s what YouTube is for!
Just find some popular carols that have the words running across the screen as the person is singing. Everyone can sing along. Or, you may want to dig deeper into one particular carol with regards to the vocabulary and meaning of it.
Have your Say about these Christmas Activities for ESL
What’s your top pick for an ESL Christmas activity, game or worksheet? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful teaching resource.
p.s. If you’re looking for some more ideas for holiday-themed ESL lessons, then you’ll want to check out the following resources: