When you teach a language, you’re usually teaching a lot of vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary is the words we use and grammar is how we organize them in a way so that people understand what we’re saying. ESL Christmas activities, along with all the associated vocabulary is one such example.
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 ESL Ideas
Christmas is a popular holiday in the USA and Canada, as well as in 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 them. 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 ESL 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. Of course, it also works well with other holidays like ESL Thanksgiving.
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).
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 111 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)
#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!
Or, you could turn this easily into an ESL Christmas reading lesson. Just choose a Christmas-themed reading passage and follow most of the same steps.
#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 students 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!
#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.
Or, you can also check out these ESL Food Games.
#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 ESL Christmas Activities for Adults: 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: I’m an Alien
It’s often the case that students know a good deal about this popular holiday before explicitly teaching them. If that’s the case with your students, consider using this simpler warm-up activity:
#8: Sing Christmas Carols
It can be a fun time to sing some Christmas carols with your students. Don’t worry. You don’t have to be 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 its vocabulary and meaning.
#9: Present Perfect Christmas Activities and Games
If you’re teaching students in a country that regularly celebrates Christmas, then some of these ESL present perfect activities that can be the perfect addition to your lesson. For example, here are just a few of the questions you could talk about:
Have you ever eaten a turkey dinner?
Have you heard about interesting Christmas traditions?
If you want to know some ways to incorporate this into your ESL Christmas lessons, you’ll want to check this out: ESL Present Perfect Activities.
#10 ESL Christmas Activities: A to Z
If you know that your students have a decent knowledge of all things Christmas vocabulary, then you may want to start with the A-Z warm-up activity. It’s ideal for helping to activate students’ prior knowledge about a topic.
The way it works is that you put students into groups of 2-3. Then, they write the alphabet down on a piece of paper. After that, they have to think of as many Christmas vocab words as possible (one/letter). The winner is the team with the most words at the end of the activity. For example:
Find out more about this quick game here. It’s one of our top picks for interactive Christmas games for kids: A-Z Vocabulary Warmer.
#11 ESL Christmas Activities for Adults: Food Related
Isn’t Christmas all about the food for many adults? Kids too, but adults especially who may be slightly less excited about Santa Claus coming down the chimney. That’s why I love to spend a lot of time talking about Christmas food and what makes this holiday so special for many adults.
Here are some of my favourite things to do related to this: ESL Food Games and Activities.
#12: Christmas Picture Prompt
If you want to review some English Christmas vocabulary with your students, then consider using picture prompt. Find an interesting Christmas picture with lots of interesting things happening. Then, depending on the level of the students, you could do any of the following:
- Get students to shout out vocabulary words they know from the picture
- Talk about what’s happening in the picture
- Talk about how people are feeling
- Predict what will happen next
- Make a story based on what they see
You can find out more about this versatile Christmas activity here: ESL Picture Prompt Activity.
#13: Christmas Just a Minute
If the students in the country where you’re teaching celebrate Christmas and are at an advanced level, then you may want to try out Just a Minute. The way it works is that students have to talk for an entire minute without stopping.
In this case, you might want to set the topic as what their family does to celebrate Christmas. Or, their best Christmas memories. To increase the value of this activity, put students into groups of 4 and require that the other 3 students who are listening ask at least 1 follow-up question.
#14: Running Dictation
#15: Word Association ESL Christmas Activity
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they already know a good amount of Christmas vocabulary words. In this case, it can be useful to help them activate their prior knowledge before jumping into new material.
One of the best ways to do this is to use this word association activity. Students have to think of all the words they know about Christmas and then organize them in some fashion that makes sense to them. Or, you can work on it together as a class. Want to try it out? Learn more here:
#16: Christmas Idioms Activity
There are a ton of English idioms that relate to Christmas. Just a few of them include:
- Lit up like a Christmas tree
- Going cold turkey
- Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
- Good things come in small packages
- Christmas comes but once a year
- The more the merrier
Try out this fun activity with your students today: ESL Idioms Activity.
#17: ESL Christmas Guessing Game
#18: Christmas Candy Guessing Game
A fun activity that you can do around Christmas with the entire school is this guessing game. Fill up a jar with Christmas candy of some kind (red, white, and green jellybeans work well) and seal it well. Then, each student gets to make one guess about how many candies there are. The winner gets to keep the entire jar!
#19: Concentration with Christmas Vocab
I love to use this memory game with my ELL students who are learning new words. Beginner students can match pictures with words, while more advanced learners can use words and definitions.
It’s challenging, fun and has a serious element of competition to it. Sounds like something you want to try out in your Christmas lesson? Learn about it here: Concentration Memory Game.
#20: Me Too!
This is a simple speaking and listening activity that works well for talking about holidays. Each student in the class has to say a true statement about something they do at Christmas (or any other holiday that’s normally celebrated in the country you teach in). They should think of something that some, but not everyone in the class would do.
After they say it, if other students have a similar experience, they can raise their hands and say, “Me too!” Want to find out more? You can see all the details here: Me Too! ESL Activity.
#21: Word Challenge Christmas Spelling Game
If you’re teaching your students lots of new vocabulary words related to Christmas, then you may want to consider using this spelling game. It’s a whiteboard race between two or three students.
It’s simple. The way it works is that you say a word and the first student to spell it out correctly on the board gets a point for their team. Find out everything you need to know here: ESL Word Challenge Relay Game.
#22: Dialogue Substitution
New words are often introduced through a dialogue of some kind. However, they’re often too easy for my students and they just blow right through them. That’s why I like to do something like this:
#23: Man/Woman on the Street Interviews
If you want to elicit some opinions from students about their experiences with Christmas (or anything for that matter!), then try out this Man/Woman on the street speaking and listening ESL activity. It’s interactive, engaging and student-centred and easy to adapt for a Christmas lesson by making sure that the questions relate to this holiday. Find out all the details: Man/Woman on the Street.
ESL Christmas Vocabulary
If you’re looking for some of the most common Christmas related words, then you’ll want to keep on reading. You can use them in your activities and games, or teach them to your students if they don’t already know them.
- Christmas tree
- Candy cane
- December 25th
- Boxing Day
- Christmas Day
- Christmas Eve
- New Year’s Eve
- New Years Day
What about ESL Christmas Lessons?
Okay, so if you want to have a complete Christmas lesson at your fingertips, these games and activities may not be that useful for you! But, not to worry. Here are some of our recommendations for ESL Christmas lesson plans that you can just print off and go. They’re full of interesting things to read and listen to and of course, some good Christmas games for students.
It’s also easy to plan your own. Find out how right here:
ESL Christmas Worksheets
Are you looking for some Christmas worksheets for your ESL/EFL students? You can check out some of our top picks right here:
Do you have any go-to sources for TEFL Christmas worksheets? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Did you Like these Christmas Activities for Students?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)
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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:
Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API