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4-part holiday season lesson plan: speaking and grammar

4-part holiday season lesson plan: speaking and grammar

Get your class feeling the holiday cheer with this lesson combining a couple of Christmas themed activities with a New Year’s resolution wrap-up.

1. Warm-up (10 mins)

Have students sit in two rows: One student faces the whiteboard while their partner faces the wall.

The teacher projects or sticks a picture of a recognizable Christmas character or item onto the whiteboard. The student facing the board has one minute to describe this person or thing to their partner, who is facing the opposite direction.


_He is grumpy. He doesn’t like Christmas. He is green. He lives in a cave. (The Grinch)

It is round, very delicate, and hangs on a Christmas tree. It’s usually red or green. (A bauble)

When the student facing the wall comes up with an answer, they raise their hand. When the round ends, the students swap seats. The teacher continues with another character/item. Continue this activity for another five-six rounds.

2. Quick reading and writing (20 mins)

Depending on the students’ level, teachers may decide to pre-teach the following vocabulary and expressions:

  • Preceding – coming before

  • Promptly – without hesitation

  • Sources suggest that – fixed expression based on research

  • Carol – a song, often religious

  • Composition – a piece of art

  • Recall – to bring to mind

The purpose of this activity is for students to practice explaining something they have just read to partners; either by paraphrasing in their own words or by remembering specific expressions.

Part 1: Read

Pairs are given two minutes to read an article independently. Then they have one minute to explain what they have learned to their partner. For advanced students, try memorizing specific underlined phrases. Here are some example texts:

a. The Christmas Calendar

The four weeks preceding Christmas Day is known as Advent, which ends on Christmas Eve. The twelve days of Christmas begin promptly on Christmas Day. The last day, January sixth, is celebrated in some parts of the world as Three Kings’ Day, also known as the Epiphany. This event marks the period of time between Jesus’ birth and the coming of the Magi, or the Three Wise Men.

b. A Famous Christmas Carol

Sources suggest that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” first appeared in Britain around 1780. However, others argue that it is French in origin. Though the lyrics have changed and evolved over hundreds of years since its composition, it was hardly ever easy to recall all the lyrics.

(Paraphrased from Vox article: https://www.vox.com/21796404/12-days-of-christmas-explained.)

Part 2: Produce and Repeat

Students now write a short expository paragraph similar to the one above about a tradition that they have in their own country during the holiday season. When they have finished writing, switch pairs and have them repeat the reading activity with the new paragraph.

3. Speaking (15 mins)

Mainly for C1 students, the purpose of this activity is to practice articulation using the popular carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Monitor to make sure students are speaking loudly and clearly and to correct any pronunciation.

Watch a video of this carol taken from YouTube, or alternatively, play and sing the song with the students.

Project this table onto the whiteboard. Explain that this Christmas carol is the one referenced in the Reading & Writing activity above.

1 (a) partridge in a pear tree

2 turtle doves

3 French hens

4 calling birds

5 golden rings

6 geese a-laying

7 swans a-swimming

8 maids a-milking

9 ladies dancing

10 lords a-leaping

11 pipers piping

12 drummers drumming

Have students say aloud the items as they listen to the song. Then, students work in pairs for a few minutes to memorize the items in the carol. Later, hand out 12 slips of paper per every pair of students (or have students make their own), with a question mark and an item from the song, like this:


Golden rings

In pairs, Student A picks a number from the song (e.g., 5), and Student B must remember which number the item corresponds to (e.g., golden rings).

Student B should say their answer aloud. Do the first as a class and check the answer as an open class.

Allow them to play six turns each and monitor for pronunciation throughout. Spend some time writing the phrases on the whiteboard and exploring the stresses in each phase if necessary.

4. Grammar (20 mins)

Finally, some grammar. The purpose of this activity is to compose sentences using the future tense to describe New Year’s resolutions. By the end of this activity, students should write down at least one resolution on a notecard and post it on a classroom wall.

Students will pick one of the following categories:

  • Community

  • Self

  • Family

  • Career goals

  • Education

  • Hobbies

Then, students will compose one sentence for each verb using either will or going to. Do the first two as an open class:

  • Help (someone) out with

  • Finish working on (something)

  • Commit to (doing something)

  • Promise (myself or someone else)

  • Quit (doing something)

  • Begin (doing something)

  • Improve my (something)

Example sentence:

“Next year I’m going to improve my English to a C1 level.”

More advanced students can be instructed to give a few extra sentences explaining their resolution.

Students write their responses in their notebooks. Finish by selecting one resolution (or more) to write on a notecard to be posted onto the wall.

Let students walk around the class and read resolutions. Allow them to mingle before the end of class.