Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

National Holidays and Celebrations
Upper-Intermediate to Advanced level


In this lesson Ss will discuss national holidays and celebrations throughout the world, focusing mostly on winter festivities including Christmas and New Year's. A gap-fill exercise will introduce Ss to the various ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world. A productive task, on New Year's resolutions, will also guide Ss to think about and discuss end of the year, secular celebrations. The lesson will conclude with a brainstorming session of a productive task, to be completed in the proceeding lesson. This productive task will involve the Ss creating a new festival (or holiday) for the class to celebrate.


Abc Christmas Around the World: Table

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity for freer speaking practice on the subject of holidays, tradition, and the cultural differences that influence how different nationalities celebrate and observe certain holidays.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity to practice reading for details, on the subject of Christmas and how it is celebrated and observed around the world.


Warmer/Lead-in: American and Turkish National Holidays (18-20 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS. Beneath the header, write the subheaders AMERICAN and TURKISH. Elicit from the WC some of the main national holidays that are recognized and celebrated in Turkey. Write the Ss' answers on the WB. Encourage the Ss to explain and provide details about the Turkish national holiday, including: --When it is celebrated; --What it celebrates; --How it is celebrated (what do people do); --Where it originated from; --And does the Ss observe (and celebrate during) the holiday Elicit from the WC if they are familiar with any of the 10 official holidays that are recognized in America. Write the Ss' answers on the WB--and include your own once the WC can no longer answer. [T's Answer: Independence Day; Veteran's Day; Memorial Day; New Year's Day; Christmas; Thanksgiving; Labor Day; Columbus Day; George Washington's Birthday; Martin Luther King Day] Encourage the Ss to explain and provide details (of what they know) about the American national holiday, including: --When it is celebrated; --What it celebrates; --And how it is celebrated (what do people do)

Exposure (23-25 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through listening

Elicit from the WC if any of the Ss have a favorite holiday or festival (from Turkey or internationally). Encourage the Ss to explain why that holiday is their favorite--what specifically do they do, while celebrating the holiday, that they really enjoy. Share with the WC your favorite holiday--of course, Christmas. Refer the Ss to the pre-lesson video and its stressed-based theme ('THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING... [Official Fake Trailer]'). Elicit from the WC the following CCQ's: 1) "Do you think that the mother in this video is excited or unhappy about the holiday season coming? Why?" 2) "What are some of the problematic situations that the mother has to deal with while she is preparing for Christmas? Do you have any recommendations, for the mother is this video, on how to resolve some of those problematic situations?" Expand on the subject further and elicit from the Ss why they think so many people (especially Americans) find the holiday season so stressful. "Is there any advice that you can give us silly Americans to make the holiday season a more positive experience?" Elicit from the Ss if there are any holidays in Turkey (national or not) that create such stress for a Turkish mother as Christmas does for an American mother. Write on the WB AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS. Elicit from the WC if they are familiar with any of the specifics of the Christmas holiday tradition in America. "Do you know when Christmas is celebrated and how it is celebrated (in general) in America?" Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB. Inform the WC that they are going to watch a clip from T's favorite Christmas movie ('A Nightmare Before Christmas'). Introduce the subject of the clip (Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween, exploring Christmas Town) and instruct the Ss, while watching the clip, to look for things that are considered traditionally Christmas. "Based on what you see in Christmas Town, how would you describe a traditional Christmas? What objects are involved; is there specific clothing that people wear; how do people celebrate Christmas (what do they do); are there any special foods involved; etc.?" Youtube: Nightmare Before Christmas- What's this? (HD) [2:43] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmX0wRODV1A Following a viewing of the clip, bring the WC together for FB.

Productive Task: Christmas Around the World (30-35 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Inform the WC that they are going to learn about the various ways that different countries celebrate Christmas. Divide the WC into pairs and distribute the HO of the 'Christmas Around the World' table. Instruct the groups to first complete the United States row (highlighted in gray). "Based on what you saw in the 'Nightmare Before Christmas' clip, and what we just discussed about Christmas in America, try to fill in the Christmas table for the United States." After the groups have completed the first part of this activity, inform the WC that each group is going to receive a text on one of the countries from the table. "Read about how your country celebrates Christmas in their unique way and complete your table with the information from your text. Then, stand up and talk to all of the other groups to complete the rest of the table." Provide plenty of time for Ss to complete this activity--around 20-25 minutes. Play some Christmas music in the background ("A Charlie Brown Christmas" is perfect for this activity). Once energy levels have died down, bring the WC together for FB. Elicit from the Ss a response to the differences--and perhaps similarities--in how Christmas is celebrated in different countries around the world. "Were you shocked by any celebration in particular?" "Does anyone really LIKE a specific Christmas tradition from one of the countries?" "Does anyone really DISLIKE a specific Christmas tradition from one of the countries?"

Productive Task: New Year's Resolutions (15-17 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Write on the WB RESOLUTION. Try to elicit from the WC the meaning of this word. [T's Answer: something that is firmly/strongly decided upon; an agreement; a solution] "Are you familiar with the term 'New Year's resolution'? What is a person doing when they make a New Year's resolution?" Elicit examples from the WC of some common New Year's resolutions. Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB. "Why do you think people make New Year's resolutions? What is the purpose (and what is the motivation) of following this annual, end-of-the-year tradition?" Elicit from the WC their opinion concerning 'New Year's resolutions.' "Do you think that this is a useful, useless, or harmful tradition for people to follow?" Inform the WC that they are going to make a New Year's resolution list. "On this HO, there is a table that includes categories--like 'health,' 'money,' 'stress,' etc.--and some common resolutions related to those categories. I want you to go through this list and tick/check off which resolution you would like to make for 2018. I have also left some rows blank, at the bottom of the table, for you to create your own resolutions--if you have any." Distribute the HO on 'New Year's Resolutions.' After the Ss have completed their resolutions table, instruct the WC to share, with a partner, their New Year's resolutions. "I want you to explain to your partner why you chose those specific resolutions. What were you struggling with this year (in 2017) that you would like to improve in 2018? I also want you to discuss, with your partner, how you think you can succeed in following your New Year's resolutions." Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB and to share any useful recommendations for following New Year's resolutions.

Productive Task: Group-Invented Festival/Holiday (18-20 minutes) • To introduce and explain the up-coming productive task (for the following lesson)

Show the WC some pictures of people celebrating various holidays, from around the globe. Include photos of Diwali [INDIA], Chinese New Year [CHINA], Loy Kratong [THAILAND], Obon [JAPAN], Homowo [GHANA, AFRICA], Songkran [THAILAND], and Halloween. Elicit from the Ss which festive celebrations they are familiar with, if any, including how these festivals are celebrated. Inform the Ss that they are a new culture (a lost tribe from Mongol--or wherever) and they need to invent their own festival (a holiday celebration). There are a few things that the Ss need to think about when creating their festival [write on the WB]: 1) What [special objects] are used during their festival? 2) What [special clothing] is worn during their festival? 3) What [special ritual(s) is performed] during their festival (e.g. a prayer, a chant, a song, etc.)? 4) Are there any [taboos]--things that you cannot do--during the festival? 5) Do the roles of men and women differ when celebrating the festival? And/or, do the [roles differ] for different age groups (e.g. children vs grandparents)? Provide the WC with T's example of an invented festival/holiday (World Sleep Day): 1) Blanket; place candles around your bed; cup of warm milk 2) PJ's; eye mask; slippers 3) Sleep day dance 4) No loud music played; cats and dogs cannot play with their toys; children must sit in a corner staring at a wall 5) The women place the candles around the bed and the men warm the milk; children aren't allowed to participate Requirements of the activity: --Groups of 4 --The festival will be explained in a presentation, detailing the group's answers to the above questions --The presentation will last around 8 minutes --Each person should talk for around 2 minutes --The T will grade the activity just on fluency and accuracy Provide the Ss time to form their groups and start brainstorming on the details of their invented festival.

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