Celebrating Christmas in the ESL Classroom

by Carrie Kellenberger /
Carrie Kellenberger's picture
Dec 22, 2016 / 0 comments

As a special treat to you this month, I thought I’d include some tips and advice on what to teach in your ESL classroom over the holiday season. 

Celebrating Christmas in the ESL Classroom

Naturally, students and co-workers are curious about our holiday traditions, so in order to bring some Christmas cheer to school, my husband and I create lessons that satisfy our students’ curiousity and get us in the mood for the holidays. We are expected to work on Christmas Day in Taiwan, so we try to make our classes and the days leading up to Christmas as fun as possible. We generally organize a Secret Santa gift exchange with our co-workers, and we always bring in a Christmas wreath and treats, like cookies. And of course, our lessons are light-hearted. After all, we don’t work to work too hard on Christmas Day!

Most schools in Asia will hold a Christmas party and you will probably be expected to teach a few Christmas songs and put on a Christmas performance. Some classes will have already learned a thing or two about Christmas and the holidays. A good way to check their understanding of Christmas is by starting your class off with a brainstorming session. I divide the students into teams and they tell me what to write on the blackboard. I give a point to each team that can think of a Christmas word. 

Depending on their level and ability, I might ask them to write on the blackboard themselves. In this case, a student from each team must race to the blackboard and write a word. The next student can go when their team member has returned to their seat. At the end of the game, I tally up the points, making sure to strike off any words that have been repeated by other teams.

Once we've generated some vocabulary. I usually teach a few new words and to reinforce the lesson, Christmas Bingo is always well-received by everyone in the classroom. The students love playing and it is a great way to study new words while still providing entertainment. A number of ESL web sites allow you to plug in your own vocabulary words to create Christmas Bingo cards, word searches, and other worksheet activities. Explore some of the links that I've included below and you'll find a great number of activities to choose from.

Sometimes, I'll ask the students to tell me about Christmas stories and traditions that they know about. Students are always curious about hearing our own personal stories about Christmas, so I generally take in some photos from home. 

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many students are intrigued by how Christmas is celebrated all over the world, not just in North America. Sometimes, it's fun to compare how different cultures celebrate Christmas. For example, I love explaining how the differences in how Christmas is celebrated in Quebec and Nova Scotia, Canada. whychristmas.com is great website to find information on Christmas traditions around the world.

Now, for those links that I promised you. There is a wealth of Christmas-related lesson plans, games, and activities online. Here are just a few of my favorite resources for the ESL classroom. 

Christmas classroom ideas for ESL teachers here on Wandering Educators

ESL Flow Christmas Lesson Plans

Breaking News English Christmas Lesson Plans

ESL Galaxy Christmas Flashcards, Activity Sheets, and Christmas Cards 




Have fun in your classroom this Christmas and Happy Holidays!