In the run up to Christmas, it seems that everything grinds to a halt. Many people have work Christmas parties, universities close down, offices seem half empty, and half of your inbox is crowded with “Merry Christmas!” emails. With the end of the year approaching, it may seem like it’s time to slow down your language learning too. There are journeys home to make, presents to buy, and family time to be enjoyed.
However, the winter holiday season is actually a great time to surround yourself with English. From Christmas carols to festive food, you can mingle celebrations with your language learning. Get yourself in the festive mood by trying these five great ideas for having a very merry English Christmas.
1. Turn up the Christmas tunes
For many people across the English-speaking world, Christmas starts when the radio starts playing classic Christmas anthems. Whether your soundtrack for the holiday season is all about humming along to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas”, or you’re in a more “Fairytale of New York” kind of mood, Christmas music is a great way to practise your English listening skills. Try this fantastic Lyrics Training website and practice karaoke-style on your English with (Christmas) tunes. You can also tune into British or American radio stations through the Internet for a taste of what English-speakers are listening to. On some stations, the Christmas classics are repeated non-stop!
2. Turn on the oven and get baking!
Let’s face it, Christmas is all about the food. Every culture, and indeed every family, has their own traditions. But one thing is always true: there are sweet treats and plenty of them. Combine your baking skills and your English skills to create something special for your friends and family by following English language recipes for traditional Christmas treats such as mince pies, Christmas pudding, and eggnog. You’ll learn all the verbs for baking (mixing, beating, sieving, stirring, pouring etc…) and you’ll gain lots of new vocabulary as well. Oh, and of course, you’ll also get to eat something delicious after you’ve finished. You deserve it after learning so many new English words.
3. Switch on the Christmas telly (television)
Television has become a major part of Christmas celebrations around the world; and for many people, Christmas is not complete without watching the special editions of programmes that are broadcast on and around the big day. In my home country, the U.K., the Christmas TV schedule is eagerly anticipated and families spend time choosing and often arguing over what they are going to watch over the festive season. For a taste of Christmas specials from the past, head over to YouTube and enjoy clips from the hilarious Mr Bean special -- a favourite in many British households. Try to describe the action using your best English descriptive skills or practice your writing by summarising the action. You could also discuss it with your English teacher on italki and create dialogues for the scenes.
4. Decorate your home
Make your home look Christmassy with tinsel, paper-chains and a traditional Christmas tree. There are many English language instructions for making Christmas decorations on various websites. Some good ideas include: making origami Christmas trees,to decorating your window sills, or using your scissor-cutting skills to create snowflakes to hang from your ceilings. The instructions are in English so you’ll need to use your reading skills to understand the method and hopefully you finish with a creation that looks somewhat similar to the picture! Another idea would be to decorate your Christmas tree with the English vocabulary that you are learning. Write the word and its definition on cardboard stars and hang them on your tree. Every time you look at the tree you’ll see your vocabulary and practise your English!
5. Discover other Christmas traditions through teachers on italki
On italki you have access to people from countries across the world. What better way to learn about Christmas traditions in other countries than by talking to a native of another country about what they do over the holiday season. Even better, you’ll be able to practice your all-important English conversation skills whilst discovering how people on the other side of the world celebrate Christmas. Have you ever wondered how Australians celebrate Christmas when they are in the middle of their hot summer? Or are you intrigued about how someone in Canada spends Christmas surrounded by snow and icy lakes? Well so have I! italki gives you the opportunity to discover this information first-hand, and all whilst practising your English speaking. Use italki’s search function to find a teacher from the country you are interested in and book a lesson!
So, are you going to halt your English studies over the holiday season? Or seize the festive opportunities to end the year on a language learning high! With so many ways to incorporate Christmas into your studies, how could you not take advantage of the excellent ways to expand your vocabulary and brush-up on your core English skills. Christmas is a busy time for everyone, but if you can find some time to study during the celebrations, then you’ll set yourself up nicely to start the New Year with increased motivation to make 2017 the year you conquer the English language.
Enjoy your learning and have a very merry English Christmas!