Christmas Around the World (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

Download the Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL) here: Christmas-Lesson-Plan-UppIntermediate-07122012.doc

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Upper-Intermediate

A lesson plan on Christmas

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Warm-up (Pair Work)

  1. Brainstorm: Spend a minute writing down words you associate with Christmas. When finished, compare and discuss your list with the class.
  2. Is Christmas celebrated in your country? If so, how is it celebrated?
  3. What are the best and worst gifts you have ever received?

Reading: Christmas Traditions Around the World

The Philippines: Christmas season begins in September with the feast of Saint Pio and ends in January, meaning nearly half the year is Christmas in the Philippines. The event closest to December 25th is a nine-day mass called Simbang Gabi, which includes hymns and Filipino foods. Christmas Eve is celebrated all night and then followed by a day of family talks and gift giving. Maligayang pasko (Merry Christmas)!
Mexico: In the nine days before Christmas, children and adults dress up as Mary and Joseph and reenact their search for lodging on their way to Bethlehem. Groupsof “pilgrims” visit different neighborhoods and sing songs in request of shelter. The host replies in song and offers drink and food. Children try to break a star-shaped piñata and do not receive gifts until January 4th. Feliz Navidad!
Ethiopia: Christmas Eve is celebrated on January 6thin accordance with the local Ge’ez calendar. On that night, priests lead processions through cities in traditional clothing and carry elaborately decorated umbrellas. In the morning, people feast, presents are exchanged, and some people play sports. During the Timkat procession, observed 12 days later, a stone replica of the 10 Commandments is wrapped in rich fabrics and carried by priests on their heads. Melkam Ganna!
Finland: Finns believe that the Winter Solstice brings out the spirits of the dead. On Christmas Eve, celebrated at roughly the same time, Finns place candles around the graves of relatives. Hyvää Joulua!
Vietnam: Christmas was only recently reintroduced to largely Buddhist Vietnam after a relaxation of restrictions in the early 1980s. It is a mainly a Jesus-free secular event. Santa is sometimes depicted on a scooter instead of a sleigh and Vietnamese Catholics gather in churches that resemble temples. Citizens visit city centers in throngs and later eat Christmas chicken soup. Chúc Giáng Sinh Vui Vẻ!
[Lesson plan sources:,]

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Comprehension & Follow-Up Questions

1)     Which country has the longest Christmas holiday season?
2)     In Mexico, what should you do if Mary and Joseph show up at your door?
3)     What do priests carry on their heads during Timkat?
4)     Your opinion: Which celebration sounds most interesting to you?

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Christmas Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the Christmas lesson plan.
mass (noun)
reenact (verb)
lodging (noun)
elaborate (adj)
grave (noun)
throng (noun)
  • mass – a ceremony held in memory of the last meal Christ had with his disciples
  • hymn – a song of praise, usually praising God and sung by Christians
  • reenact – repeat the actions of a past event
  • lodging – temporary accommodation
  • pilgrim – a person who travels on a journey to a holy place
  • procession – a line of people which moves slowly along, especially as part of a ceremony
  • elaborate – very complicated and detailed
  • solstice – either of the two times a year when the sun reaches its highest/lowest point
  • grave – a place in the ground where a dead person is buried
  • secular – having no religious or spiritual basis
  • throng – a large, packed crowd of people or animals

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
mass / hymn
reenact / war
pilgrim / lodging
procession / throng
elaborate / jewelry
solstice / grave
secular / holiday
blackout / diamonds
Pronunciation note: these adjectives end with an “it” sound: graduate (ˈgrajoōit), elaborate (iˈlab(ə)rit), but their verb forms end with an ‘ate’ sound, i.e. graduate (ˈgrajoōˌāt), elaborate (iˈlabəˌrāt)

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Role-Play 1 (Pair Work)

(Note: each student reads his/her role only.)
Student A:
You gave a sweater to your friend (Student B) for Christmas. You bought it from a nice old lady when you were on a recent holiday. Now you are having coffee with your friend. You notice that he/she is not wearing the sweater. Comment on this.
Student B:
For Christmas, your friend, Student A, gave you a sweater. Not only is it ugly, but it also has a strange smell. You know you’ll never wear it. Ask your friend if you can have the receipt so you can return it.

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Role-Play 2 (Pair Work)

Student A:
You are at home. Despite the bad economy, you were able to buy presents for everyone in your family this year. You are about to eat Christmas dinner. Soon, someone will knock on your door.
Student B:
You are raising money for a charity (think of a charity name). You are visiting houses in a rich area to get donations. Knock on Student A’s door and try to get a donation.

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Brainstorm & Debate

1) Divide the class into two groups. Group 1 should make a list of negative things related to Christmas. Group 2 should make a list of the positive things related to Christmas. Spend 1-2 minutes on this.

2) Read the following: The council in your town has received several complaints about Christmas. As a result, an official town meeting has been called to discuss the future of the holiday. Read your roles below and then participate in the meeting.

Group 1
Present your arguments to the council and residents for either cancelling Christmas or changing the holiday in some major ways. Take 1-2 minutes to prepare. Go first when ready.
Group 2
Take 1-2 minutes to form your pro-Christmas arguments. After Group 1 has presented, present your arguments and defend the holiday against their criticisms.

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Questions

1)     What is the meaning of Christmas?
2)     Being Good: Were you good this year? Do you become a better person every year?
3)     What is the best Christmas movie?
4)     What food is associated with Christmas?
5)     Real or Fake: What makes the best Christmas tree?
6)     Is it okay to give money as a gift?
7)     Do you have any funny Christmas stories?

Christmas Lesson Plan (ESL) copyright Matthew Barton of

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6 comments on “Christmas Around the World (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

  1. Subaita Khan (Posted on 12-9-2012 at 20:20) Reply

    These worksheets or excecises are very helpfull and ican feel the improvement in my speaking power which increasese my confidance level,But……….. Ican received the answers and what i uderstood is that without donation cant mark the correct answers , is it?
    If I am wrong plz correct me

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 12-9-2012 at 20:44) Reply

      Hello Subaita. You don’t have to make a donation. These lesson plans are mainly for teachers who need something to use in class. But, as a student, you can read the article and then do the vocabulary matching exercises above. You can also try to make sentences, but the website does not have a way to correct the sentences. If you want, you can also write your opinion about Christmas here, in the comments section. Good luck with your studies.

  2. Tesss (Posted on 12-24-2012 at 11:22) Reply

    This is amaizing way of teaching students in improving their communication skills and creating awareness of different cultures.

  3. Hera, (Posted on 12-11-2013 at 13:43) Reply

    Great at all Esl levels, to stimulate conversation among students from different backgrounds.

  4. Hajni (Posted on 1-5-2016 at 17:30) Reply

    I like this lesson plan, thank you!

  5. Cata (Posted on 12-23-2018 at 20:16) Reply

    This lesson is wonderful!! Love the combination a variety of activities!

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