Christmas themed B1 speaking

The stress of the exam preparation doesn’t take any days off. That’s why when you want to take a breather and spend some fun and quality time with your B1 students, you may want to kill two birds with one stone. Have a chat about Christmas time, while practising all parts of the PET speaking exam.

Following one of my most popular posts on exam preparation, Halloween themed B2 speaking, I decided to go with the flow and prepare something quite similar – this time focusing on future PET candidates. This class will hopefully reduce the stress of the exam preparation and at the same time, will help your students get into the Christmas mood! However, keep in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas, so if you teach in an international environment with many mixed religions, maybe it’s best to skip this one for the sake of the students who can’t relate to this holiday.

This class is made of two files: the examiner’s guide notes with the examiner’s speaking script, four Christmassy pictures for speaking part 2 and two scenarios for the discussion in part 3. You can also get all the prompts for speaking part 2 and part 3 as a PDF presentation for those of you who teach online or want to save some paper! All the files are available to download for free at the end of the post!

Just like in the previous festive speaking activity, this class requires no preparation time. All you need to do is download and/or print the files! That easy. I would still encourage you to keep this class under a little bit less strict exam conditions, just because it’s Christmas. You want to make this class educational while keeping it light and fun!

B1 students often struggle with basic spelling. That’s why in speaking part 1, students are asked to spell out some of the trickier Christmas related words, such as a wreath, myrrh or a bauble. The purpose of this part is not only to practise spelling, as some of the words may be new and useful in the following speaking parts. All the pictures supporting vocabulary are included in the PDF presentation. This part is followed by a set of personal questions about Christmas. The questions were inspired by an authentic speaking script and range from asking about family celebrations and traditions to talking about the best Christmas presents.

In speaking part 2, each student is asked to describe a photograph for about a minute. Under normal circumstances, there are two pictures included in this part. I put four different photographs to keep this part more engaging and versatile. All you need to do is read the script, show the pictures and time your students. The photos show a family eating Christmas dinner, a family dressing the Christmas tree, a family exchanging gifts and people walking around the Christmas market. It will ensure that you get to cover a whole range of festive vocabulary!

Speaking part 3 consists of two tasks, so the students will get a chance to listen to two completely different discussions. The first one asks students to think about the most nutritious snack for Santa Claus. The second task asks students to discuss the best Christmas present for Santa Claus. Both are light-hearted and will surely spark some interesting and creative discussions. So read out the script, put two minutes on the clock and enjoy the creativity.

In the last part of speaking, students are asked to discuss their opinions regarding Christmas time. I tried making them interesting and thought-provoking. Students need to express their opinions on topics such as Is it important for children to believe in Santa Claus? Is Christmas too commercialised? or What is your opinion of changing Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays? Even though some of the questions may seem to be quite invasive and controversial, try to keep them easy and light. Christmas is the time of uniting, not dividing!

If you haven’t thought of a good lesson for your future PET candidates, feel free to download all the files below! Merry Christmas!

Have yourself a sustainable little Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year once again. The time to be jolly, spend time with your loved ones, and of course, give presents. It’s so wonderful that most of the time we forget about the dark side of it – increased waste production. In this Christmas oriented lesson, we look at the negative impact of the holiday on the environment and think of different ways of preventing it.

I always struggled when preparing a Christmas themed lesson. I stay away from doing the same things students do at school. I don’t come anywhere near anything religious. Last year I learnt my lesson. I prepared a festive class, all about traditions and gift-giving. There was a tiny problem, though. One of my students didn’t celebrate Christmas, and she couldn’t care less about it. It got me thinking about Christmassy lessons. Lessons that would be inclusive and engaging for everyone.

My inner environmental engineer got all excited when one specific topic had crossed my mind – the wastefulness of Christmas and how it can be prevented. It’s not only thought-provoking but will also give some room to speak for those who don’t celebrate Christmas but can relate to any other occasion with presents.

In this lesson plan, we explore solid waste production and how to prevent it during the merriest holiday of the year. Go to the end of the post and get your files for free.

The class starts by discussing students annual waste production and when they think their waste production is the highest. Ask about their % increase in waste production during the holiday season. Share the answers and ask if they were surprised. Another way of doing this lead-in is by splitting the class into smaller groups and asking them to predict the weight of waste produced annually and the percentage increase. You can get the answers by saying more or less. According to Eurostat, on average in the EU people produce 502 kg of waste per capita. The average monthly consumption is increased by 30% during the festive season, as reported by Biffa.

Proceed by asking another Christmas oriented question – why do we produce more rubbish at Christmas time? Students work in pairs and think of possible reasons and culprits of higher waste production. Once everyone is done and shares their answers with the rest of the class, read part 1 of the text by phs Wastekit and check if the predictions were correct. Continue with reading for detail. Students read sentences 1-5 and decide whether they are true (T), false (F), or the answers aren’t given in the text (NG).

Moving onto the second part of the text. Students look at six pictures and quickly read Part 2 of the text to find the words that best describe them. Explain any other additional words that may interfere with the reading experience. Look at the Christmas tree and decorations and brainstorm the answers as a group. Collecting ideas about reducing waste caused by Christmas trees and decorations will set an example and will give an idea of how to end this task in groups. Any appropriate and logical answers can be accepted. The answers can range from reusing artificial Christmas trees, buying local natural Christmas trees, recycling Christmas ornaments, and so on. Afterwards, divide everyone into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss ways in which these problems can be solved. Finish by going over additional solutions and dividing them into Christmas trees and decorations, Shopping and gifts and food and beverages.

Finish the class by discussing if students agree with any of the solutions and if they’re going to implement them this year. Ask if they believe that making such small changes have any significant impact on their surroundings.

So this is my idea of dealing with the Christmas topic. I know that talking about the environment and ways of protecting it, especially during such a magical time, may not be the happiest one to do. However, it’s important to talk about it and bring awareness, so we can all have a sustainable Christmas this year. How are you going to celebrate Christmas in your classroom this year?

Get your lesson plan and worksheet for free by clicking the files below! Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Countdown

If you live and teach in one of the European countries, it’s almost impossible to avoid Christmas-themed lessons. A year ago, when I worked at an academy in Alicante, I was asked to prepare a short Christmas video or project with some of my younger groups. With my Movers group (ages 7-9), we spent about 5 or 6 hours talking about Christmas and preparing for the big video.

Children love Christmas, and no matter how much you try to avoid it, you will have to devote some time to it. What’s a better joy than counting down the days to Christmas? I thought that maybe it’s possible to keep this holiday excitement while learning English. Why don’t you try using an advent calendar that helps you focus on different exercises in each class?

In this free to download version, there are four classroom activities, each one of them written down on a festive card. You can either print out the numbers and glue them to the back of the cards, or you can put them in festive envelopes! If you have a Christmas tree in your classroom, you can hang them and remove one card daily! Ask your students to uncover the task at the beginning of the class and follow this Christmas activity.

As mentioned before, there are four different festive tasks. Let me present them to you and give you my idea of how to use them in class.

Write a letter to Santa

There is no better way of starting December than thinking about the presents! You can ask the kids whether they’ve been naughty or nice this year. If they believe that they’ve been nice, elicit what kind of good things they’ve done. Think of a list of good deeds and move on to the fun part – the presents. You can then put the letters in the envelopes and send them to the North Pole!

Read a Christmas story

Ask your students to read this Christmas classic written by Clement Clark Moore. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is an interesting choice, but fit it to your kids’ needs and abilities. If you find it to be too long, use only one page and move on! Another way of using this poem is asking your students to work in groups and fill in the gaps with the missing words. You can also try choral reading to keep everyone engaged in the activity. The poem is well-known, so you may also want to use a recording to listen to someone else reading it while filling out the missing words.

Make a Christmas ornament

Your classes shouldn’t be only about learning. Aim to bring the students closer together and build a good classroom community. It’s as necessary as studying! Let each of your students choose one out of six available patterns and give them the freedom to decorate them. If you bring markers and glitter, then you can count on having a great time. In the end, decorate your Christmas tree or a classroom. Students love seeing their projects on display.

Listen to Christmas carols

I chose my all-time favourite kids Christmas carol – Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. First, ask the students to match the vocabulary with the pictures to make sure that everyone knows what words we are looking for. Once everyone is clear, use these words to fill in the gaps while listening to the song. Play this Christmas carol, write the missing words and if you have some more time or need to record a video – why don’t you learn it and perform it for the parents?

Here are some of my ideas for an ESL Christmas advent calendar for kids. It’s easy, low-prep, and most importantly, your YL will love choosing the numbers and seeing what kind of fun surprise they’ve got ahead of them. If you are an after-school ESL teacher with two hours a week, this should give you content for two weeks of classes! If you are looking for something longer and more engaging, head to my TpT store to download the full version with eight more activities and over 60 pages of PDF. The activities include the four previously explained and additionally, the Christmas alphabet, solve and create a Christmas jigsaw, design your perfect gingerbread house, write and design a Christmas card, write a Christmas cookie recipe, roll and colour the ornaments, watch and answer questions about Frosty the Snowman and design and hang your own Christmas stocking!

How are you going to celebrate ESL Christmas this year? Click below to download four activities for free!