Language Lesson Plans: Winter Holidays

language lesson plans

Language Lesson Plans:

Winter Holidays

Winter holidays make for the funnest language language lessons.

Like many language teachers, I love to use holidays to teach vocabulary, culture, traditions and food while having fun.  These, of course, will be different lesson plans depending on the language you teach. Holidays are a great opportunity to infuse some change of pace activities into our lessons as well.

Are you looking for a fun language lesson plan that you can do for those first really dreary weeks back from winter break? If so, then try this.

For years now, people have been really into vision boards. Regardless of what you or your community might think of spirituality, they can be a really fun project in a foreign language class, particularly a French and Spanish class. Let me tell you a little bit how it works if you aren’t already familiar with these.

Basically, you have images and pictures. You then have a board. This can be a cardboard folder- a piece of poster board, a big piece of paper- whatever. This doesn’t even have to be an actual physical board. It can be an electronic board of some form. Those are certainly easy to make nowadays.

Images that are interesting or pleasing of what people see in their future are what you’re going to put all over this board, you can phrase it any way you want. People may not feel very comfortable that this comes from this big spiritual movement, but regardless of whether you’re spiritual or not this is a fun activity.

I would pick around 10-20 images from different categories. For example, my future health, my future job, my future home, my future social life, trips I’d like to take, things I’d like to have, books I’d like to read, people I’d like to meet, languages I’d like to learn, could all be themes- you get the picture. Any prompts that fit into your class are going to work really nicely. I think when people make vision boards for themselves, they tend to use more images. However, as we are teaching foreign languages and not art, we don’t want to spend too much time on that.

You can cut and glue them all over the board (or do your electronic board- there are apps). I would have the students label their different categories. Places I’d like to go, things I’d like to see, things I’d like to do, trips I’d like to take, etc. Also on that board, I might take small post-its, or white paper and tape them on as labels. Have some requirements of different things that the actual nouns that they label, nouns and adjectives on that board that fit well for practice in your class.

After they’ve completed is where I would bring the writing and speaking into it. Keep it really simple. If you’ve got a group of beginners, you might have them just write simple sentences about each one of their wishes. Or for absolute beginners, have them write down the different nouns. Things I want, things I like, etc.. When you’re getting into more advanced groups, subjunctives, this is a great activity for the subjunctive, have them write about what their hopes are. You’re going to use the subjunctive here (important in French and Spanish), or what their wishes are and what they want to have. Another way to use this is to have them write all about their future. You can even do this in a lower level class with the future, before you’ve done the future tense by using those constructions, I’m going to, I want to.

After they’ve written, everyone can share and it becomes an oral presentation. Everyone can sit around in a circle and talk about whatever their board prompted. One thing I have loved as a foreign language teacher is that we can do anything in our classes and it’s so easy to make it relevant and communicative.

You can have them prepare these well beforehand or have on hand a bag of magazine cutouts. You might even want to ask for donations from recycling and a couple of times a year when you’re recycling your stuff, you can cut out pages that seem interesting or appropriate for school and stick them all in a bag. This way they’re not searching through for images they want and can get started easily. This bag of images can be used in so many different ways as well. You can use them in projects to talk about descriptions and body parts where you might cut out ten different body parts from ten different images in a magazine, and eventually becomes this composite Frankenstein-type character. They then have to describe it. They can make their own pretend family books or pretend family trees also with these images.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity for a super-fun language class. Some ideas:

I love to start with Compliments. I have loads of small pieces of paper ready to go in my room. We use these to write names on the papers, fold them up, and place them in a bag. Every one chooses a name. They must formulate a genuine compliment for that person in your target language. If your group is small enough, it works even better. Students offer a compliment for everyone in the class. Each person then gets a compliment from everyone. We then follow up with a card or letter to someone in their life.

I like this because it forces us to focus on the positive- a great exercise for a happier life, in my opinion. If you teach a language where the subjunctive is important, this is a great exercise using it.

At the more basic levels, try having students write a simple Valentine to another student. You can display your target language words and phrases. I like doing puzzles to teach vocabulary, too. 

Looking for more resources for your language classes?

vision board

Looking for more ideas? 5 Weeks of Low and No Prep Fun

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