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ESL Christmas Story Recall

ESL Christmas Story Recall

ESL Christmas Story Recall is a simple activity for young learners. Students are told or watch a short video about a Christmas story. Then, in pairs or groups they try to rewrite the story and then retell it. This is a fun activity to get students speaking and writing on the topic of Christmas.

Alternatively, you can print out the story and cut it up. Students have to try to put the story back into the correct order. Then, they watch again and see if they put it back together correctly. With lower level students print pictures of the story and have them put them into the correct order.

An example of this version can be downloaded here:


Some great video stories include:

The Night Before Christmas:

The Nutcracker:

More Christmas activities
Discover more Christmas activities for kids, teens and adults.

ESL Christmas Quiz – This great no-prep Christmas quiz is great for teens and adults and covers Christmas cultural knowledge, vocabulary, Christmas music.

4 ESL Christmas Activities – This huge Christmas post includes speaking, vocabulary and a video lesson. This is suited for Young learners and teens and even adults.

Christmas Tongue Twisters – Tongue Twisters is a fun activity for young learners or even teens to practice pronunciation. Great as a warmer or cooler for your Christmas lesson plan.

ESL Christmas Charades – This activity is a great no-prep game for teens and adults to practice Christmas vocabulary.

Just a minute Christmas Challenge – In this activity students need to speak about a Christmas photo for one minute. This activity is great for teens and adults who are preparing for the B1 Exam (PET).

ESL Christmas Debate – In this activity, students have a debate on different statements related to Christmas. This activity is great for teens and adults with a higher level.

Find more games and activities on our YouTube Channel


FCE Activities

This post looks at two ways to practice speaking skills with exam students, but both of these activities can be used with lower level students. These activities are easy to adapt and as such can be used  regularly to practice for Part 2 and 3 of the FCE and CAE exams.

Wordle headlines

This activity is a great activity to practice speaking for the FCE but can be used with a number of different levels. 

Activity Time:  5 – 10 minutes +
Materials required: A wordle headline for each pair of students. Pre-prepared activity download.
Skills practiced: Speaking, listening, writing and reading.
Level: Pre-intermediate +


1. Find a number of interesting headlines. I usually find interesting headlines at the following websites:

The Telegraph 
The Huffington post 

Optionally, download this pre-prepared activity

2. When you find interesting headlines, copy and paste the headlines into wordle. You should have something like the example below. Make enough different wordle headlines for each group in your class.

3. In class, put students into pairs. Tell the students that they are going to receive a headline from the news. Tell them that they must first unscramble their headline and then write it down. Don’t forget to tell them that they must use all the words to create their headline.
When they have made a logical headline using all the words, they must talk about what they think the story is about and what their opinion of the story is.

In The News

Activity Time:  5 – 10 minutes +
Materials required: A mini news article for each student. Pre-prepared activity download.
Skills practiced: Speaking, listening and reading.
Level: Pre-intermediate +
1. Find some interesting articles, copy and paste the headline and the first few lines of the article into a word document or download this pre-prepared printable.

2. Give one article to each student. Tell them they have one minute to read the article. When they are finished, they must explain what their article was about to their partner and then ask their partner’s opinion about the article.  

Give the students some useful vocabulary on the board. Remind them that this is the vocabulary needed in Part 3 of the FCE and CAE speaking exams. 

Encourage students to speak for at least 2 – 3 minutes. Ask them to report back to the class about their opinions on the article.

Expressions for asking opinion 

  What do you think of…?
  What do you think about…?
  How d’you feel (about…)?
  What d’you reckon (about…)?
 What’s your opinion of…?
  (What do think about) that?
  What are your views on…?
 What would you say to… / if we…?

Expressing opinion

I think……
I feel……..
I believe…….
As I see it……..
In my opinion…….
As far as I’m concerned……
My point of view is that…….
It seems to me that……..

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Wordle In The Class

A very happy New Year and a welcome back to you all. 2013 is a new year and I have many fresh ideas to start the term anew.
Using Wordles in the ESL Classroom

So, what is a Wordle? A Wordle is simply a word cloud that can be great resource to teachers. This post will look at a number of ways they can be used in the ESL classroom.


Wordles can be a great way to introduce grammar. Not only can you use them to introduce a grammatical structure but you can also use them for revision. They are a great way to revise grammar in groups or individually.
1. Go to wordle.net.
2. Write a sentence that you want your class to study.
3. Give the Wordle to the students (or project it on the board!). They must reorganise the sentence in groups.

Use Wordles to teach Grammar.
Wordle here used with conditionals.

Summarize A Text

Use Wordles in class with texts
Before class copy the text from a reading to be covered in class. Paste the text into wordle.net and create a Wordle with the key words from the text.
This can then be shown to your class. In pairs, they have to decide what the text is going to be about. As an additional exercise, you can get your class to write a headline based on the Wordle.


Wordles can be a great way to improve students writing skills. I use Wordles with teens and exam classes (PET, FCE, CAE, CPE) as a way to improve their writing.Make a Wordle from students writing. Show it to the class and see which words are used most, how could they improve the vocabulary etc.

Create two or more Wordles of the same writing task and get your class to compare the language used.

Develop writing skills with wordles ESL


Wordles are a great way to revise key vocabulary covered in a unit. At the end of a unit, create Wordles with key words from the unit to help students remember key vocabulary. Wordle allows you to arrange the vocabulary alphabetically too.
Wordles are great for revision
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Literal Lyric Video

Everyone has heard of Literal videos, but this week’s post will look at literal lyric videos as a way of developing English Language skills.

Click the video to view an example video made by my class. 

The concept is very simple. You select a song (preferably related to the current topic the students are studying) and print a copy of the lyrics. You allow the students to listen or read a copy of the lyrics and they decide what they think the song is about. While you can do this a number of ways, I have had great success doing the following:

1. Make a few copies of the first verse. I choose “She is Leaving Home” by The Beatles. I decided to start with a running dictation to introduce the song and practice their listening and speaking skills.

First verse running dictation

2. Pre-teach key vocabulary. For this song I taught the following:

clutching, handkerchief, sacrificed, snores, denied, dressing gown
3. Tell the students they are going to listen to the song. They have to decide what they think the song is about and why. They must write down any reasons for their answer. Students listen to the song once and have a discussion.
Some questions: Who is she? Where is she going? Why is she leaving? 
4. Before class, cut up the song into the number of students you have. Give each student a lyric and a blank piece of paper. Tell the students they must read the lyric and draw a picture to represent what they have read. Give them a time limit 5 minutes is usually long enough, depending on how long the lyric is. Ask them to color the picture and when they are finished, to write the lyrics on the back of the drawing.
5. After class, scan or photograph the pictures and using a video editor such as iMovie on the Mac or Microsoft Movie Maker and add the pictures and the music. These programs are very easy to use and the video can be put together quickly.


6. In the next class, the students watch the video. Check that they remember the key words taught in the previous class. You can give them a gap fill to complete if you wish.
This is a great way to get the class to create something in the limited class time that you have. It’s also a fantastic way for the class to achieve something together as a group, which promotes a positive classroom atmosphere whilst developing their language, reading and interpretational skills.

Found this post useful? Find more posts on Music in the ESL classroom here

Click here for a copy of “She’s leaving home” Lyrics

Don’t forget to leave your comments or videos below. 

Where to find it

Where to find it
Photo by NS Newsflash
This activity is a great way to use authentic materials in the classroom. I have used this activity in summer schools where I could get free English newspapers. However anyone living in a major city should have no problem sourcing newspapers. 
Remember newspapers can be used in a lot of different ways so you will get good value out of them.

Activity Time:  15 Minutes 
Materials required: One newspaper for every two – three students, White label stickers (one for each group). 
Number of students: 10 (You could use less)
Skills practiced: Reading and writing.
Level: Intermediate and above

1. Before class look through the newspaper. Find one article that interests you. On a label write rough instructions as to what the article is about and where it is located in the newspaper. Affix this to the front of the newspaper. 

2. Give each group of students a newspaper. Ask them to browse the newspaper and find an article that interests them. Ask them to fill in the label with a brief description and and rough location of the text. Tell them to keep a note of the page location of the text.

3. When all groups have completed task two. Get students to swap newspapers and each group try and find the other groups articles, and then they write the page location. Whatever group finds all the articles first is the winner.

4. Check the winning groups answers. 

Find more ESL teen games here