Christmas and New Year in French class: ideas and tips
The end of the year period is a pleasant period. Also during French lessons at school or in clubs. Everything is more relaxed. People are a bit freaked out with the view of the Christmas holidays ahead. Nevertheless, there is still something to learn in a fun, relaxed way. For example, words related to this period. Facts about Christmas traditions in French-speaking countries. Or you can organize a quiz. Or listen to French Christmas songs together and maybe even sing along for those who dare. Or enjoy a French Christmas movie.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve at school
The period before Christmas is a pleasant period in (evening) schools and in associations where language lessons are given. Everyone is a bit out of control, the Christmas tree is flickering in the hall of the building, there are garlands and decorations. Everyone is already thinking about the upcoming parties. If you still want to captivate your students and let them work a little, you can give a language lesson related to the end of year celebrations. Instructive yet friendly. With possibly a snack and a drink in the theme of French Christmas traditions. In this article we only focus on a French lesson, but with some adjustments you can use the tips and ideas for all lessons.
French language lessons about Christmas and New Year
There are many possibilities to fill an hour or a few hours of a French language lesson about the New Year celebrations. We list a few suggestions and ideas here.
Talk about the upcoming parties
Just before Christmas, people have a lot of plans. Planning about what they are going to do, what they are going to eat, about whom they are going to invite, about what gifts they have yet to buy or have already bought. People also have questions. How should they pass on sweet wishes to the people they met during their holiday in France or elsewhere. The ideal opportunity to dedicate a lesson to vocabulary related to the end of the year period and to learn the typical phrases for writing Christmas wishes on a card in French. To practice the vocabulary, you can give everyone a sheet with the vocabulary related to Christmas and New Year.
Practice Futur proche and futur simple
After going through and explaining the vocabulary, you can let people speak. A good exercise also on the futur proche and futur simple, two times with which you can explain something in the future. When everyone has their say, an hour is over.
Practice passé composé and imparfait
This vocabulary is also useful because it can serve as the basis for a homework task. You can ask people to write a report of what they did during the Christmas period. This account will then be in the passé composé and the imparfait, times with which you express the past.
Crossword puzzle with vocabulary festive season
With the same vocabulary as above you can put together a crossword puzzle. This can be resolved during the lesson. Each participant receives a sheet for this. Or you can divide the participants into groups of two or three, which works better. You can turn it into a competition: who or which group filled in everything first? Optionally, a small gift can be provided for the winner (s).
Watch French Christmas movie
You can schedule a French Christmas movie for a relaxing hour with a drink and a drink. You can rent it in the video store if you didn’t have it at home or just stream it online. It is best to set the film in French. Depending on the level of your group, you can show it in its original version, or with Dutch captions or with captions for the deaf and hard of hearing in French. If there is still time left after the film, you can discuss it. When the lesson is over after the film, you can ask the students to write a piece about it. That can be a summary. Or a piece in which they write what they thought of it. If you have prepared questions about the film and the characters, you can give them as homework for after the Christmas holidays.
Listen to French Christmas carols
Compare with versions in other languages
There are a lot of French Christmas carols. Some English Christmas songs have a French version. Nice to let you hear and to compare with the versions that people know. This version can be English, German or Spanish, but there may also be versions in languages that are less obvious. Interesting to make a study of this. Is the French version more religious or less religious? Are the same protagonists featured? Is the vocabulary used the same?
Other songs are typically French and only exist in French. Some songs are even in a local dialect (Basque, Breton, French from Canada, French from Réunion or Guadeloupe, Walloon, etc.). You will find them on the net but also on special, regional CDs.
Children’s songs related to Christmas are also nice. Maybe a bit childish but usually these songs contain a lot of vocabulary. You can also find these on the net or on special CDs.
Playing with Christmas carols
You can not only listen to Christmas songs, you can also play with them. This does require some preparation from the teacher. You can type out the text and leave out some words. When listening, students have to fill in the missing words. You can omit words haphazardly, but you can also very consciously omit only the verbs, only the nouns or only the adjectives. More difficult: the students get the missing verbs and have to conjugate them correctly in the sentence. Or get the missing adjectives and have to adapt them to the corresponding noun. You can also omit all words at the end of the line and give the student two similar possibilities each time from which they have to choose the correct word. It all seems simple but in a foreign language and with music that goes pretty fast, this can get very spicy.
Sing songs or organize a karaoke hour
Once you have read the lyrics and explained the words, you can move on to singing. With the text, in group or individually. You can turn it into a cannon (singing with multiple voices that come in at different times). Not easy because you have to concentrate on your own text and not be distracted by others. You can also bring an instrumental version and have it sing by the whole group using the lyrics. A solution when people are a bit shy. Laugh, scream, roar!
Riddles and word games
With the vocabulary you can make rebuses and riddles and have them solved. Or you can have them made by the students. Not easy in a foreign language!
Talk about the Christmas traditions in the country
Perhaps some students have already gone to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s Eve in France. Or will they do it this year. What are the Christmas traditions in France and in the French-speaking countries and territories? Do they look like ours or are they different? How did they come about? An interesting and engaging conversation about cultural differences between countries.
You can also organize a quiz based on the different Christmas traditions, the Christmas songs and the Christmas film. Participants can participate individually or in small groups. Who or which group paid attention best during the film? Who still remembers that particular phrase from that song? Who has the greatest knowledge of French culture and customs? This is also possible in a pleasant atmosphere with possibly a snack and a drink. With possibly also a prize for the winner (s).
It goes without saying that these tips and ideas can be adapted to any language lesson and also to an NT2 lesson. Have fun and in the context of a French lesson: Joyeux Noël et bonne année!