‘Tis the Season to Speak, Listen, Read, and Write! 9 Ideas & 20 Tools for Holiday Learning

Love the giver more than the gift.

—Brigham Young

Often, the holiday seasons are the most stressful times for teachers. Before our term ends, we scramble to finish up our courses, get grades in, and meet with parents who are worried about their child’s progress. Classroom management is difficult because learners are excited about the upcoming break and spending time with their family and friends.

During the holiday season, language teachers often struggle with motivating learners to practice their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. We hope the following activities and resources give you more peace of mind. The ideas are meant to motivate your learners to practice English in fun and engaging ways!

Reading & Writing Activities

Motivate learners to practice reading and writing with these ideas:

Learners can read holiday stories by other students on Storybird. Students can then create their own digital stories with Storybird or LittleBirdTales.

Get students writing with holiday writing prompts. Find visual writing prompts on Pinterest, the PhotoPrompts site (scroll to December), and on John Spencer’s Tumbler. Justin McLachlan has created a list of 25 Scifi and Holiday Writing Prompts.

Get students to write Santa letters with at EmailSanta.com. Santa responds with a video.

Students can also practice their writing skills by creating wish lists for characters they are reading about, such as famous people, or pets.

Adolescents and teens might enjoy creating social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram) for the elves, reindeer or snowmen. Fakebook is a safe tool for creating a profile for this activity.

Students can pair up and role-play two characters (Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and another reindeer, Santa and an elf, Santa and Rudolph, The Grinch and a Who, etc.) who message back and forth. You can give students a scenario and vocabulary list to focus the learning. Try ClassTool’s SMS generator for this activity.

Speaking & Listening Activities

Motivate learners to develop their speaking and listening skills with these ideas:

Students can work in pairs to modernize the lyrics to a holiday song, such as the 12 Days of Christmas and record a music video of the new version with Magisto, Powtoons or Wideo.

Children can call Santa using the Call Santa (iOS/Android), Santa’s Magic Phone (Android), and A Call From Santa (iOS) apps. Get the children to first write down useful phrases they would like to say to Santa to show them how much English they have learned this year!

Students can create videos thanking family and relatives using these free apps- Talking Santa App, Magisto, YakIt for Kids, Chatterpix Kids, and Fotobabble. Try Powtoons or Wideo to create videos on the web.

What are your favorite holiday activities for language learners?

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1 comment

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  1. Joan M. Brennan says:

    Dec 07, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for this excellent article that will certainly help many ELL and ESL students as well as their teachers and parents! The tools and ideas presented here are wonderful solutions for learning English as a second language.

    You and other readers here might also like to know about 2 other types of tools to help children as well as adults with decoding, tracking and fluency in reading—the low-tech Reading Focus Cards and their digital desktop app (Patents 7,565,759 & 8,360,779) that can help many challenged readers overwhelmed by “too much text” on a digital or physical page.

    To learn more about these inexpensive yet customizable tools for reading BOTH online AND offline media, please visit http://www.FocusandRead.com.

    Thanks again for this very good article!

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