It’s that time of year again! For some, the run-up to Christmas hasn’t yet started in earnest, but for others it’s already in full flow: In Britain, Christmas adverts tend to appear on the TV from mid-November onwards, making the countdown to Christmas very long indeed! These short videos are a great resource to use with your students, who will also be starting to feel festive. The adverts often tell a story with a message, contextualise lots of Christmas vocabulary and can be used as an inspiration for student production. In this post I’ve chosen five new adverts from 2018 and added a few ideas on how to use them in class. Give them a try with your students!
Before watching show pupils screenshots from the video and ask them what they think they are going to see. Then watch to check.
Eg. Where is this little girl? How’s she feeling? Why? What’s she going to do?
Ask students to write down the names of anything Christmas-related that appears in the video. Answers (probably not an exhaustive list): stars, the Queen’s speech, tinsel, wise men, Christmas tree, bauble, angels, turkey, gravy boat. Alternatively, pre-teach these words and get students to spot them, or do a match up with screenshots (use the snipping tool).
After the show the mum goes to talk to her daughter (the lead singer). What do they say to each other? Imagine the dialogue.
What makes you feel nervous? Why? What do you do to get over the nerves?
What’s the proudest you’ve ever felt of someone?
Watch from 0:05 to 0:53: what’s the video’s message? (It’s explicitly stated at the end and the product advertised at the start gives a clue.) Do you agree?
What shops do you see in the video? Answers: greengrocer’s, florist’s, gift shop (?), bookshop, butcher’s, bakery, toy shop, record shop, sports shop.
What are the advantages and disadvantages for the consumer shopping in A) the highstreet B) big chain stores C) online
Watch Maria Carey’s All I want for Christmas is you and hand out the lyrics. Underline all the Christmas vocab (there’s a lot). Which of these things do you have in your house? You can also do gap fills, have students unjumble lines from the song or talk about what they would ask for if they could only get one Christmas present, or what they would give if they could give any present.
Find the Christmas items (santa hat, Christmas tree, tinsel, baubles, turkey, presents, fairy lights, stockings, mistletoe…). Or, students write 10 things they expect to see in the video based on screenshots / the start of the video. Then they watch to check.
Compare the house in Florida with the house in London.
How are the bear grandparents feeling at different points in the video? What emotions do they go through?
What would you prefer: to stay at home with your extended family for Christmas, or travel to the Florida Keys with your partner for Christmas? Why?
If you could travel anywhere for Christmas, where would you go? Why?
Stop the video at 1:08. What’s he going to listen to? Why do you think so?
If you only had a few minutes left, what would you say and to whom?
PS. You might want to bring tissues to class
PPS. Rather than a big-budget advert commisioned by a company, this one apparently cost £50 to make
Watch up to 0:18. Why is the orangutan angry? (More obvious to older students with greater world knowledge.)
Comprehension: what naughty things does the orangutan do, what are the humans doing to her and what is the little girl going to do to help? Transcription can be found here.
What can ordinary people do to help?
If you use more than one:
What’s your favourite and why?
Which advert is the most effective and why?
Is there anything you don’t like about any of the adverts?
Make your own Christmas advert
If you like Elton John, the John Lewis Christmas advert is also worth checking out
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PS. Did you know?
Pearson have a range of coursebooks with high-quality video content from sources such as the BBC integrated into their methodology. For teens, have a look at Wider World. For teens preparing for Cambridge exams, check out Gold Experience second edition. For a general English adult course, Speakout is the answer.