Christmas is just around the corner! Many of us will be grading exams, putting marks in the system and, hopefully, teaching the odd Christmas-themed lesson. A nice alternative to your standard worksheet is to use Christmas adverts, which are something of an institution in Britain (and elsewhere) with brands vying to make the biggest splash. These short videos are great material as they tend to tell a story and include lots of Christmas vocab. Here I’ve taken five and offered ideas and activities to exploit them in class. If you like what you see, check out last year’s post too!
NB. Some of the speaking activities listed here presuppose a knowledge of Christmas vocabulary, so preteaching vocab may be necessary: perhaps doing one of those worksheets first isn’t such a bad idea!
What do you most like about Christmas?
What do you do for others at Christmas?
Watch the video until 0:22: what is she going to use her grandad’s walking stick for?
Watch the video until 0:55: what are they going to do with the magic?
In pairs, one student narrates the action to another who is facing away from the screen . The narrator must tell a lie (tell them before they are narrating from 0:55 to 1:31 so they know how much time they have). Then the student who had his back to the screen watches the action and tries to spot the lie.
NB. Narrating the action isn’t an accessible task for beginners. Alternatives include slowing the video down on youtube, letting them watch once beforehand to plan what they are going to say, or having students write four sentences about the excerpt with one being false, then their partner watching to check.
Which of the following is magic used to do? (Correct answers in itallics. Answers in order – jumble up to make more challenging)
Grow a giant Christmas tree
Make a giant Christmas cake
Transform someone into a dancing snowman
Take a boy to the North Pole to see Father Christmas
Bring a doll to life
Give a cat a sleigh and make it fly
Transform a house into a gingerbread house
Make it snow in the town
Put Christmas lights all over the town
Transform people into gingerbread men
Make the reindeer on Father Christmas’ sleigh fly
Make a giant bauble
Stop at 1:35. Why is the girl sad? What is the brother going to do?
Which Christmas superpower would you like to have?
If you could do anything for anyone at Christmas, what would it be?
What do you normally eat on Christmas Day?
Class vote: Do you like Brussels sprouts?
Transcript for the video:
In dark village square an angry mob shouts
Because Christmas before Kevin was all about sprouts
‘Show’s over Kevin’
‘Don’t do it Russel’
‘I’ll help you’
‘Great work Tiny Tom’
‘Come on Tommy, ketchup’
Sprouts have gone and Kevin’s here, shower me with festive cheer
Bring those mince pies over here with cream!
Decorate your Christmas trees
Smother me in cranberries
What’s that flying over me? Reindeer?
So come on let me entertain you
Roast that turkey till it’s bronzed
Caught me with your serving prawns
The oven’s on so don’t be long
So come on let me entertain you
‘Time to blast off’
Let me entertain you
‘That one’ll be hanging around all Christmas’
You can blank out words to make a good old gap-fill (suggestions in itallics) or jumble the lines and get them to reorder. With a gap-fill, you can get them to predict the word where you’ve blanked out parts of a collocation (eg roast that turkey, decorate your Christmas tree).
What food from the video would you add to your Christmas lunch?
Do the sprouts look like a mob off a netflix series? (Peaky blinders: they’re called the leafy blinders!)
Do you know the original song? Who sings it? Do you like it? (Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You)
Can you spot a pun / play on words in the video? (Ketchup / catch up) (‘Hanging around’ all Christmas)
Do you know Maria Carey? Do you know any of her songs?
She is going to advertise a product. What product will it be?
Watch until 0:42. Who is going to get the bag of crisps? Why do you think so? How will they get it? Watch to find out.
In the video, Maria Carey says:
I love Christmas
It’s a magical time
A time for giving
A time for caring
A time for sharing
Add as many lines starting with ‘A time for…’ as you can as a class (brainstorm individually, in pairs, groups of four, as a class).
Add a line individually and hold a class vote for the favourite / funniest / most realistic etc
Is there anything you would not be prepared to share with anyone else? Why?
What is a dragon?
Picture a dragon in your mind, then describe to your partner.
Did the dragon look like this? What were the similarities / differences?
Watch the video then fill in the speech bubbles. What are the characters thinking? Use this vocabulary to help you – melt, snowman, ice, ice-skating rink, Christmas tree, Christmas pudding, brandy (explain if necessary).
Apart from lighting a Christmas pudding, how else could a dragon be useful at Christmas?
What could ‘The Book of Dreams’ be?
Order the following scenes:
- Fireworks go off and the crowd go wild for the two drummers
- The television turns itself on to show a music video
- The dad and the daughter have a drum duel
- He sees a child’s drum kit
- The oven transforms into lights
- There is a man sitting at a table looking through a catalogue
- The cupboards transform into speakers
- The kitchen opens to reveal a crowd
- The table opens up to reveal the drum kit
- The fridge opens to make a smoke machine
- She slides down the bannister
- A little girl walks down the stairs an sees a drumkit for herself
- A teddy bear goes crowd surfing
(Correct order: 6, 4, 9, 5, 2, 7, 10, 12, 11, 3, 8, 13, 1)
If you had to be someone in the video, who would you be? Why?
- Students choose their favourite video and explain why.
- Students research the brand behind each video. Is the video effective? What will people associate with the brand after watching the video?
- Students choose a produce and make their own Christmas advert using a mobile phone.
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 Real World and for Upper Teens, Exam Focus. For teens preparing for Cambridge exams, check out Gold Experience second edition. For a general English adult course with lots of authentic video, Speakout is the answer.