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!
6 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season! Bringing students’ holiday traditions to the classroom”
Every year we celebrate an inclusive “Holidays” in my class at the end of the year. Sometimes we stretch the idea of “winter” a bit – include Divali, Eid el Adgha, Christmas, Channukah, Kwanza, New Year, Orthodox Christmas, Seollal, Saraswati Puja, Tet, Chinese New Year, Nourruz….etc Wall poster with pictures and information and a display of items from different religions – dipas, mosque from Mecca, Christmas tree, Nativity scene, Channukiah, Haft seen., etc…(I have large collection) Students research religions and cultures other than their own and either present or write about them…We have a pot luck…Starting beginning Dec we learn songs – Frosty, Jingle Bells, Rudolph, Here comes Santa Claus….I don’t teach carols out of respect that they are deeply religious in nature. Everyone learns a lot and celebrates what we have in common – desire for peace on earth, goodwill to all men and women and all beings on earth?
Oh, and we watch the iconic Mr Bean AND It’s a Wonderful Life . ( It’s a Wonderful zlife is great for third conditional – lesson in Grammar Dimensions – but you can make up your own questions “If Harry hadn’t saved his brother’s life…
Great idea! Thank you for sharing that with us 🙂
Claudie, it’s instructors like you who demonstrate such exemplary classroom leadership and lesson plan ideas. Affording your students the chance to come together and celebrate each other’s cultural differences and faiths, and learn about them as well, is amazing. It will benefit them and their families in so many ways. Thank you for your comment 🙂
Laila – such a sweet reply. I appreciate it. TY. To be honest, it is not always easy to let go of the beloved traditions of yesteryear and embrace a changing world. Just this week a classmate of mine from years and years ago in SouthAfrica (yaay for FB) was lamenting the passing of the Christmas card. Me too. But – the trees thank us! So we can see the gains rather than the losses. A country that welcomes newcomers (I’m an immigrant) asks both sides – welcomers and welcomees to be mindful of others. Setting out today with all my ” decorations” for the class. The poster of the Golden Way – common to all religions and cultures – treat others as you would want to be treated ( do it first!) is already up! Celebrate what we share❤️??❤️
You’re absolutely right – it’s never easy to change our ways but often times doing something different has a greater impact on those around us — including ourselves. Thanks for your wonderful reply Claudie and all the best to you and your students! ❤️
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