Bring the holidays to your ESL class with 12 days of Christmas!

As the holiday season approaches, incorporating festive themes into ESL lessons can infuse excitement and cultural exploration. One timeless and melodious way to engage ESL learners is through the classic song "The 12 Days of Christmas." Teaching this song can be both educational and entertaining, offering a plethora of opportunities to enhance language skills. 

The 12 days of Christmas is a popular Christmas song that is sung all around the world. Many people don’t know that the song actually has a hidden meaning. The 12 days of Christmas is a great song to use in the ESL classroom to teach about Christmas traditions and culture.

The 12 Days of Christmas presents an engaging and multifaceted tool for ESL teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans. Through vocabulary exploration, interactive activities, creative expression, and cultural discussions, students can enhance their language skills while immersing themselves in the holiday spirit.

Here are some ideas on how to use the 12 days of Christmas in the ESL classroom:

  • Provide students with the lyrics with missing words and have them listen to the song to fill in the blanks. This helps with listening skills and vocabulary.
  • Discuss the origins of the holiday and the carol
  • Go over the lyrics of the song and discuss the meaning
  • Have students act out the scenes in the song
  • Break down each day's gift and discuss the vocabulary. Create flashcards or visuals to aid comprehension.
  • Have students create their own versions of the gifts for each day. For example, they could draw or make collages of 'four calling birds' or 'eight maids a-milking.' This incorporates artistic expression and reinforces vocabulary.
  • Make a class book or collage with the students' illustrations of the song
  • Have a holiday party and sing the song together
  • Ask students to write a modern adaptation of the song using gifts that might be more relevant to them or their culture. This encourages creativity and language use.
  • Print out or draw visuals representing each day's gift. Have students work in pairs or groups to put the gifts in the correct order while singing the song.
  • Make a 12 days of Christmas themed word search or crossword puzzle
  • Have students write their own version of the song
  • Play a game of musical chairs to the tune of "12 Days of Christmas"
  • Have a "gift exchange" where students bring in wrapped gifts (not necessarily real gifts) and draw numbers to see which order they will choose gifts
  • Learn common vocabulary associated with Christmas like "santa", "presents", "ornaments", etc.
  • Assign each student or group a specific day and have them act out or create a short skit representing that day's gift. Encourage creativity and dialogue practice.
  • Make a class "Christmas tree" out of construction paper and have students decorate it with their own ornaments

These are just a few ideas. The important thing is to make the 12 days of Christmas relatable to your students and their cultures. You can do this by incorporating traditional Christmas activities from their cultures, or by finding creative ways to teach the 12 days of Christmas in the ESL classroom that are fun and interactive. Either way, your students will be sure to enjoy learning about this festive holiday!

As the song goes, "on the twelfth day of teaching, my ESL class gave to me: joyful learning and linguistic glee!" Embrace the festivities and make learning English an enchanting experience this holiday season.

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