Christmas Activities for adults

As an English language teacher I love to take holidays and events and incorporate them into my classes. It is a great opportunity to try out new ideas, and find creative ways for students to practice their English. Christmas is the perfect time for this, even in the adult classroom! Christmas activities for adult ESL students can be incorporated into the classroom and still focus on learning. This blog post will explain how and give you some great ideas for actual classroom activities!

why Theme-based classes?

Theme-based classes create new opportunities for students to practice using their language skills in a different context. Christmas is a great opportunity for this! Click To Tweet

Theme-based classes that incorporate holidays and events make learning more interesting and diverse for  students. Christmas activities for adult ESL students can help to educate them on different customs and traditions and share their own experiences and knowledge.

Incorporating Christmas activities into your classroom

When incorporating Christmas activities into the classroom students still need to feel like they are learning English. Christmas activities for adult ESL students  make for a great opportunity to learn and use new vocabulary, practice the production of a grammar point or practice a skill (such as listening for keywords or listening to summarize main points).

As much as Christmas activities can seem like “free time” or “just for fun”, they should actually have a clear skill focus and be goal-oriented. Click To Tweet

What is great about the Christmas activities listed below is you can adapt them to fit the needs of you students. You can incorporate what you have been working on in your own class. I’ve put together a list of ideas that you can use in your classes that are easily adaptable based on the needs of your class and can be used for any language level. I have geared these ideas towards adult students (because that is who I teach), however they can be easily changed to be used in children’s classes.

7 Christmas activities for adult esl students

Christmas movies

Students watch a movie and fill out a movie plot worksheet.  The worksheet can include listening for keywords and summarizing the main ideas of the plot, answering comprehension questions, discovering new vocabulary etc. Here is a sample worksheet to follow: Christmas Movie Activity Worksheet. Students then have to describe the plot to their partners where they can check each others answers and add and share ideas as needed. The great thing is that this can be adapted to any level as students will answer based on their learning level.

Possible follow-up activities

  •  Students can write their own Christmas movie using the plot prompts and vocabulary from their plot worksheet. This gives students the opportunity to re-use the vocabulary they have learned.
  • Students write a review of the movie (it would be good to provide a review example for the students to work off of for structure and vocabulary guidance)
Christmas Shopping

We all have to do it! So why don’t you have students do their Christmas shopping in their English class! You can either do this online (for EFL students) or make it interactive and have them go into a shopping centre (for students living in an English speaking country).

Online shopping: Students go to (make sure the website is in English) and create a Christmas shopping list for themselves or their family. They should list 5 – 10 items and explain who they are for and why they are buying that item. Have them name the prices and total cost and use reviews from the website to support their purchase. You can use this to practice numbers or shopping vocabulary.

Activity Picture - Christmas Activities for Adult ESL Students

In Store: Students go to a local shopping centre and take pictures of items they would buy for their friends or family. They come back to class and compare their lists with their partners and explain their purchases. Again they can practice vocabulary for numbers and shopping. You could even have them ask the employees for help to make it more interactive.

Discussion questions on a Christmas theme

Students can ask and answer Christmas related questions to practice grammar and vocabulary in context. This is on of the best Christmas activities for adult ESL students because it encourages conversation and fluency development. All you need to do is  create questions to elicit the grammar or vocabualry point you want to practice.

Lower Level options: practice the present simple:

  1. What do you usually do for Christmas?
  2. Do you buy presents for your whole family?
  3. What do you usually buy?
  4. What do you eat for Christmas?
  5. Describe your usual Christmas celebrations?
  6. Do you celebrate Christmas? Why or why not?

High level option: questions for Probability:

  1. If you could go anywhere for Christmas, where would you go?
  2. What would you do if you had 10 million dollars to spend on Christmas presents?
  3. If you could have anything this Christmas, what would it be? Why?

For a challenge have the students come up with their own questions about Christmas. You can give them free reign or have them use a grammar point or vocabulary. Either way they are practicing question formation!

Christmas word searches or crosswords

This is a quick and easy way to practice and review vocabulary related to Christmas holidays. To increase interaction students can work in groups to complete the task (increases student talking time).  Refer to my ultimate list of resources where you can easily find these holiday related word searches and crosswords or even make your own!

Christmas Song fill in the blanks

Choose a classic Christmas song and print out the lyrics with key words removed from the song. Have students listen and fill in the blanks and then compare their answers together.

Lower level option: you could also provide the words for them on the board so they can listen and choose the right option, or have multiple choice options for each blank.

**Make sure to space out the missing vocabulary words more for lower students, and choose simpler words.

Make a gingerbread house

Introduce students to a long standing custom! Making a gingerbread house!

Higher level options:

  • As they build the gingerbread house they can write instructions on how they built it and then compare with members from the other team (in partners). You could even have them practice specific vocabulary for giving instructions (FOR EXAMPLES).
  • Or change it into an interactive speaking and listening activity where one student has to direct the other students on how to construct the gingerbread house down to the very small details. Students will have to be very intentional with their words and use their vocabulary in interactive and creative ways.

Lower level options:

  • Students can practice listing vocabulary, in groups they arrange pre-made graded instructions in the correct order, follow the instructions for putting together the gingerbread house, and then read the instructions to their partner using listing vocabulary: First, second, then, next, after that, finally etc.
  • Again, to turn it into an interactive listening activity have one student read out the pre-written directions for the other students to follow.

A Final Note…

These are just a few ideas of Christmas activities for adult ESL students that you can incorporate into your  classes. Just remember to tailor them to the needs of your class, and make sure there is a clear goal so students don’t just feel liks it is a “free class”. These ideas can be used to make learning more interesting and interactive for your students.

Please pin this post if you think it will be helpful for other teachers!

Christmas Activities for Adult ESL Students

Christmas Activities for Adult ESL Students

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Please comment below if you have any other ideas or use these in your own classes.

merry Christmas!!!

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Welcome to the Unconventional Life Blog! I'm Eliza a professional English Langauge teacher living an international life. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English, working and living abroad.


  1. This is such a great post. I love the idea of guiding the students through the online shopping process. And that gingerbread house… Wow! That’s a complicated thing for me to do with English instructions, and I’m a native English speaker! 🙂

    • Haha, I agree with you on the Gingerbread house instructions! However, you would be surprised at how creative students can get with their English. It also helps to teach them how to be more direct using their English. It really is a great activity!

  2. These are some fantastic ideas. ESL is such a hard thing to grasp. These are sure to make it fun and enjoyable, which in turn makes it something remembered.

    • Thanks, Gina! I think it is important to really give the students as many different opportunities to use their English as possible. AUthentic activities always help them to use their English in more authentic ways.