Christmas activities for adult learners and a diverse classroom
Christmas is approaching.
As a teacher, you might be feeling excited…or deflated as the year comes to an end.
It’s easy for Christmas to become repetitive in the classroom. While classic Christmas activities are always worth a go with younger students, adult learners might not perceive Christmas as a positive time, or celebrate it at all. This makes it challenging to create a lesson that is still valuable and relevant for adult learners of all backgrounds and belief systems. To mark the occasion without alienating certain students, try these six activities as part of your own fun, engaging Christmas-themed class for adult learners!
1. Match the gift to the right person
Create a matching activity in which students decide which gift is appropriate for which person. For instance, you might make a list of common gifts (perfume, socks, concert tickets, shower gel, book) with blank labels and then a list of characters (real or imagined) with their personalities described. The first step is allowing students some time to remember the words for the gifts. Once they’re clear on vocabulary, they must decide who would be happiest to receive which present! If you’re looking for a more dynamic approach, create a mingle activity in which students take on the role of a character and answer questions regarding their personality, likes, and dislikes.
2. Quiz: Christmas around the world
Nowadays, it isn’t unusual for language teachers to have students of different nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and belief systems. For that reason, many students might not feel represented in the traditional Western approach to the Christmas season. A clever way to accommodate all students is to inform them about Christmas in other countries with an open-class, competitive multiple-choice quiz! Create an engaging Powerpoint presentation with 15-20 questions about Christmas curiosities in different countries, giving them three options to choose from. Remember to make the questions diverse, fun, and challenging. Plus? You’ll use less paper and won’t have to worry about printing dozens of copies. Here are some examples of questions you could include (add interest with beautiful pictures from different countries!):
1. Which of these countries does not typically celebrate Christmas?
(A: Norway. B: Peru. C: Algeria)
2. One of these countries celebrates Christmas in summer.
(A: Spain. B: Australia. C: Greece)
3. In Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, finding this animal on your Christmas tree will bring you luck.
(A: ant. B: spider. C: fly)
3. Christmas interior designers
Put your students in groups of three or four and explain they’ll be decorating a house for the holidays. Go over relevant vocabulary about decorations (Christmas tree, tinsel, pinecones, wreath, stars, fairy lights, bunting, baubles, candy canes, Nativity scene, dried oranges, etc) and distribute white sheets of paper with a simple floor plan of a two-bedroom house. Now, students must decide how they would decorate for Christmas, given particular scenarios. In the first scenario, they’re receiving their favorite celebrity. In the second, they’ve invited the president. In the third scenario, their own family is coming over (of course, you can change all of these characters to others you find more fun, less controversial, or more relevant!). Only one rule: everything must be discussed in the target language!
4. Describe and guess
Divide students into small groups and ask each to individually write down three words that are associated with Christmas (they may be verbs, adjectives, or nouns). They shouldn’t tell their classmates about their choices. Now, keeping their words secret, they will describe each one for classmates to guess. This is a great way for students to review vocabulary and practice finding new ways of explaining things.
5. Seasonal stories
In this activity your students will practice narrative tenses by writing a Christmas story using strange, unrelated elements. Begin by writing four or five silly, unexpected elements on the board (e.g., a rainbow, a pair of pink socks, a shark, a VW Beetle…). Now, put your students into groups of three or four and explain that they will create a winter/summer story (depending on where you teach) with one rule: they must include the elements on the board. I guarantee adult learners have a blast with this one, even if they feel they’re not creative enough at first. They always come up with wonderful stories!
6. Share the experience
Give each student a worksheet with several experiences listed in point form. Go over any unfamiliar vocabulary, review the past participle for each verb, and give students time to reflect on their own experiences. Then, invite students to interview their neighbor and compare experiences. Make it a rule that they have to develop each experience: Have you ever ______? When did you do it? How was it? Where were you? What was the best moment? Would you do it again? Here are some examples of the types of experiences you may use (of course, you can always edit them to be more complex, easier, or just more relevant to the students you have).
See snow (I have/haven’t seen…)
Travel to another country during the Christmas season (I have/haven’t traveled…)
Celebrate Christmas in summer (I have/haven’t celebrated…)
Make hot chocolate (I have/haven’t made…)
Build a snowman (I have/haven’t built…)