Now that the school holidays and the end of the year are getting closer, you may be thinking of some tasks to set your students so that they practise the English they have learned so far this yeat. Yet we know that our students would like to take a break from study and spend some time doing fun things - especially after an unusual and demanding year like this one. So these suggestions will help your students focus on positive ideas and do some language practice without realising that they are studying.
These tasks can be set for younger as well as older students.
Activity ideas for teens and adults
1 Reading and films
A) Write a list of films/TV series to watch during the holidays. Then pick one you particularly enjoyed and read about where it was made, who the actors are, etc. The tell your classmates as much as you can about it, when you are back at school.
B) Choose one book to read during the holidays. It can be about any topic you like, and in any format (graphic novel, classic. etc.). Read the story, and then watch one of its adaptations if there is one available, or read a review. If you watch an adaptation, compare the two and tell the class how they are similar or different. If there is no adaptation available, read a review and compare your opinion and the reviewer’s. For example, read and watch:
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Sherlock Holmes and the Stolen Jewels: The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
C) Read a short story or a poem, or anything that you are interested in. You can even learn a poem by heart in English! You can also listen to some great poems and stories:
- Dylan Thomas: A Child's Christmas in Wales: text / look for an audio version on YouTube
- Sir Patrick Stewart reads Shakespeare's sonnets on Instagram
2 Music and songs
A) Create a holiday playlist on your favourite music app. Are there videos for your top five songs? Read the lyrics and check the meaning of each song.
B) You can also learn a famous Christmas carol during the holidays.
3 News that makes me feel good
When you hear an interesting story on the news, write it down, detailing how it makes you feel. Then save the news item or screen capture, and then share them in class when school starts once more. Collect three news items which made you feel cheerful.
4 Learn English in the kitchen
A) If you plan to prepare some meals, choose a recipe written in English and try to make it. Use some of our recipe cards from literary classics.
B) More advanced learners can try recipes by famous chefs:
5 Write a journal
A) Write your reflections on the year. This year has been full of new and unexpected experiences. What good things happened to you this year? What was difficult? How did you deal with the challenges? What are your best memories?
B) It’s always a good idea to look forward to something positive and make some plans. Set some learning goals for the new year.
1 Creative ideas
Try some of our Play Station and Make and Do projects (in our Young Readers and The Thinking Train stories). These activities keep young learners busy and the family can join in the creative fun while following instructions in English. Here are some of our favourite projects for winter and Christmas.
2 Songs and rhymes
Learn a popular Christmas song together. We always hear ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’, ‘Jingle Bells’, or ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ on the radio and in films so parents will be familiar with the songs. Now just find the lyrics and start singing along.
Choose a story set in winter or at Christmas, and read it together. We have some titles for young learners:
- A Christmas Present for Barney Bunny by Maria Cleary, illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini
- The Dark in the Box by Rick Sampedro, illustrated by Manuela Scarfò
- Food for the Winter by Rick Sampedro, illustrated by Estella Guerrera
You can also revisit some of the classics, for example:
- The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Snow Queen H. C. Andersen
4 Family movie night
It’s so nice to relax and just watch a fun film with the whole family. You can all agree to watch a film in English (with or without subtitles. Here are some with winter- and Christmas-themes that are suitable for everyone in the family.
- Home Alone (1990)
- Klaus (2019)
- The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
- Frozen (2013)
- The Polar Express (2004)
- Nutcracker - any version you like, and it's also streamed on the Royal Opera House website
Our picture book series, The Thinking Train comes with online games which are fun to play and help children revise and practise new vocabulary. If you have any of the books in the series, check out the online games on Helbling e-zone.