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A Christmas Lesson with Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol Special

December 03, 2019 by s.nagele

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Elspeth Rawstron, illustrated by Valentina Mai. We all look forward to teaching Dickens as it is always a memorable and exciting experience. Reading A Christmas Carol is a great way to introduce our students to the world of Dickens with his unforgettable characters and his realistic vision of Victorian London. Here is a lesson plan based on interactive materials and an extract from the Helbling reader you can use in class. You just need a computer with an interactive whiteboard or a projector, and you're ready to go. Open this post, use our images, and follow our links.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Helbling Readers Level 3, CEF level A2, Cambridge level KET

Helbling Readers Red Series Classics A Christmas Carol

Did you know?

Read this extract from our introduction to the story in our reader.

During the Victorian period people began to sing Christmas carols again. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, introduced the tradition of decorating Christmas trees from Germany. And the first Christmas card appeared in the 1840s. But it was the Christmas stories of Charles Dickens, particularly his 1843 story A Christmas Carol that brought the joy of Christmas to Britain and America. People associated the name Charles Dickens with Christmas. On hearing of his death in 1870, a little girl in London said, “Mr Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die, too?”

Lesson steps

1 Talk about Christmas.

  • What does Christmas mean to you?
  • Do you know anyone who does not like Christmas?
  • How do you celebrate Christmas?
  • When and how do you decorate the Christmas tree?

2 Find out about the story.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean and lonely old man. But one Christmas Eve three ghosts come to visit him and scare him into changing his ways.

  • Do you believe that it is possible to change? Can you become a better person?
  • Do you know any stories, films, novels in which the main character changes in a positive or negative way?
  • Look at this picture of Scrooge and describe him.
A Christmas Carol low_08
Scrooge sitting at his desk in his office. Illustration from A Christmas Carol. Illustration by Valentina Mai. © Helbling Languages

3 Learn about Charles Dickens.

1 Watch this short Google doodle video for a quick introduction.

2 Look at this page on a Dickens website for 2 minutes and memorise as many facts as you can.

3 Look at some photos of Dickens' handwriting. 

  •  Search the Internet for examples of Dickens' handwriting. Can you read it?

4 Explore Victorian London.

  • How did people live?
  • What was London like in the 19th century?

1 Explore this interactive map of London.

2 Look at images of London from the 1800s and describe them together.

3 Watch this short film (4 mins) on the BFI Youtube Channel about the Streets of London.

5 Watch a film trailer.

  • What do you think of this film?
  • Would you like to watch it?

A Christmas Carol, 2009 film adaptation

6 Read a chapter from the reader.

Download a free sample chapter from our reader, and read it together. Read it out loud and stop at difficult vocabulary and language structures to discuss them.

When you have finished, talk about what might have happened before this chapter. Then predict how the story is going to end. Finish reading the story during the holidays.

Finally, watch the film in class or at home (of course in English, with subtitles).

Resources on the Internet

A well-known resource site is David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page.

The British Library has a page dedicated to Dickens.

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