Hello, December! I realize it’s a few days away, but
with all the songs being played in malls and on radio stations and the stunning decorations everywhere, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been in December for the last 2 months! Every student and teacher (admit it!) is thinking more about his or her time off, and less about the time spent in the classroom. Holidays are both wonderful and important in one’s culture and society. They bring families, friends, and strangers together as they unite in the celebrations.
Holidays give us a sense of connection and perhaps more importantly, a sense of self. When you feel like you are part of something big, your life has that much more meaning. It’s a time when people make the effort to come together no matter the distance. People are more forgiving, and the desire to help is felt everywhere.
So how would you feel if you had no clue what holidays are like here? You’d feel a sense of disconnect, a sense of loss, and of not belonging. One of the best ways to help a newcomer integrate into society is to teach them about the country’s national holidays.
Resources, just in time for the holidays!
Here are some great resources you can use and implement in your lessons.
- Christmas vocabulary – especially beneficial to the newcomers who will no doubt come across many of these words: http://canada-esl.com/christmas-vocabulary/esl-themes-and-holidays/christmas-esl/
- This video explains how Santa Claus came to be etc. Cima explains in details what Christmas is, and goes through common vocabulary during this time of year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqFtW–N1V8
- Christmas songs with lyrics! http://www.christmas-carols.net/
- Doesn’t get much more classic than Mr. Bean! This video would be a great idea on the last day of class before the holidays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyWSTvwZPGY
- ESL listening activities: http://www.123listening.com/christmas.php
How about a follow-up lesson?
To compliment Christmas and the holidays in Canada, a follow-up lesson could discuss the different holidays that are celebrated around the world. The lead-up could be to encourage your students to talk about their major holiday(s) by having them prepare a 5-minute speech in front of the class to share what and how they celebrate back home. You could also have them write about their holiday, their favourite dish associated with that holiday and what they do to celebrate.
Food is always welcome!
Finally, a great activity is to have the students prepare a dish their country is well known for and bring that to class to share. You could organize an international holiday celebration day in class. This would bring everyone together and certainly would help in building that connection between the newcomers and the rest of society, as well as build their self-confidence. It’s another step forward in integration and I can’t think of a better way than to celebrate each others holidays.
This great link provides you with every religious holiday celebrated by communities here, as well as different National Days that are so fun to talk about and even participate in when appropriate (Such as the food ones!).
What have you done in the past with your students to help them learn about the holidays here in Canada? Any resources or activities you’ve used that have proven to be effective in your classroom?
As always, I love hearing from you so please be sure to leave a comment so we stay connected!