With the term drawing to a close, it’s almost time for our students to say goodbye as they leave us for their Christmas break. While some of our students return to their home countries for the holidays and some stay in England, they all share the desire to remember as much of the English that they have learned this term in class as possible. If you want to succeed at learning a language, it is important to continue practising it and making time for it in your daily life. With this in mind, my final blog of the year is going to give you 8 great ways to keep all the English you’ve learned this term firmly in your brain!
1. Write Christmas cards
The perfect activity to get you in the Christmassy mood, writing Christmas greeting cards to your loved ones can also help you keep up the progress you’ve made in class, if you write them in English! Try writing different messages inside the cards so that you’re getting as many English phrases as possible into your memory. Common phrases found in Christmas cards are ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Happy Christmas’, ‘Seasons Greetings’, and ‘Happy New Year!’, or you could make up some of your own.
2. Write jokes for Christmas crackers
As I mentioned in my last blog, Christmas crackers are imperative to a British Christmas day. Usually, people buy them pre-filled from the shop, but you can actually buy your own cracker-making-kits and make some yourself. You could choose to make everybody at your dining table a special cracker with a gift inside that they would like to receive, but best of all, you could try writing some of the infamously unfunny jokes that you usually get inside a Christmas cracker. Popular cracker jokes include Q: why was the turkey in the pop group?, A: because he was the only one with drumsticks and Q: What’s a dog’s favourite carol? A: bark, the herald angels sing’ Try coming up with some totally original Christmas cracker jokes to make your friends and family roll their eyes at you!
3. Watch a Christmas movie in English
Who doesn’t love snuggling up in December and putting on a Christmas movie? Luckily, most blockbuster Christmas movies are already in the English language, but why don’t you test yourself – turn off the subtitles and see how much you can understand. After you watch the movie, try to have a conversation about it, in English of course! My top recommendations for Christmas films are Love Actually, The Grinch, Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Polar Express.
4. Make Christmas tree decorations with English sayings on them
Decorating the Christmas tree is a fun activity for everyone, young and old, and what better way to fill an empty hour this Christmas than to make your own decorations from scratch? This is a perfect activity for little hands, with a bit of adult supervision!
You will need:
Felt tip pens
To make these easy-peasy Christmas tree ornaments, choose cookie cutter shapes that you’d like to use to decorate your tree. Then, use the cutters as stencils and mark their outlines onto the cardboard with a pencil. Cut the shapes out with the scissors and then use the felt tips, glue and glitter to decorate! To work your brain at the same time, try writing English holiday greetings like those mentioned above onto the ornaments. Every time you look at the tree, you will be reminded of the new phrases you have learnt.
5. Read A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens is one of the most famous English novelists of all time, and luckily for you, he wrote a novel all about Christmas! A Christmas Carol is used by EFL teachers across the globe at this time of year, as it introduces a famous British literary figure with an accessible story, and one that fills its readers with Christmas spirit. It may be a challenge, but try reading at least some of the novel if you can, keeping a dictionary next to you to help you with any unfamiliar words. It has been proven repeatedly that reading books is one of the best ways to learn a language, as it reinforces words that you already know, helps you learn new ones and also situates words in their appropriate context.
Like with the Christmas movies, lots of Christmas songs are originally sung in English and that makes it very easy to find some Christmas music to sing along to. If you wanted to do something traditionally British, you could try carol singing. Especially popular on Christmas Eve, British people often sing carols such as ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. Learning a couple of carols like these would be an innovative way of learning some English, and learning new words to a tune has been proven to make them stick around in your brain for longer.
7. Letter to Santa
One for a child this time! If you wanted to embrace the tradition of Christmas stockings that I outlined in my last blog, children in Britain tend to write a letter to Father Christmas earlier in the month, promising that they’ve been well-behaved and asking him for a few presents they would like. If you’re wanting to keep up your little ones’ English, helping them write a letter about Christmas presents is a good way to find out what they’re hoping to receive and teach them some new vocabulary all at the same time.
8. Board Games
My last suggestion is always a family favourite around the holidays: board games. Specifically Scrabble. I recommend challenging your family to play Scrabble with you in English. This will help not only with learning and solidifying vocabulary but with spellings as well, as you can double-check your words in the Scrabble dictionary. A top tip is to nominate yourself as the scorer, and concentrate on ingraining the English names of numbers into your mind as you go, since numbers are notoriously hard to get to grips with in a foreign language. Playing a game like Scrabble can be so much fun, you won’t even realise you’re learning!
Let us know in the comments if you’re planning on trying any of these top tips to keep up your English over the winter break, and we look forward to seeing you next term. From all of us at ABC Languages, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Allegra Goodwin, Student Experience Manager