Here We Come A-Caroling: Language lessons through holiday songs

Looking for some holiday ideas?

Past ideas for bringing the December holidays into the classroom included letters to Santa and holiday tongue twisters.  The list of suggestions doesn’t seem complete without addressing the use of Christmas carols.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town. With the very first line a lesson begins on modal-like expressions for giving advice and warnings.
  • Winter Wonderland. Have advanced students find all the present participles in this song and identify their uses. They’ll see the present progressive, verbal adjectives, and adverb phrases. You’ll have an interesting discussion over the line “when your nose gets a chilling”.
  • Sleigh Ride. This might be one of the fastest carols known. For that reason, it can serve as pronunciation practice for upper level students. Let them practice at a slow pace and work their way towards the actual rate at which it’s usually sung. Trickiest lines: “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling ring ting tingling too.” and  “Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap. Let’s go.”
  • Let It Snow. This carol can help give practice with the American pronunciations of /t/. It includes the glottal stop and the flapped /t/.
  • The Christmas Song. A slow and beautiful tune to learn! You could use the first verse to demonstrate the different meanings of present and past participles. The present participles “roasting” and “nipping” express an active meaning, while the past participles “sung” and “dressed” express a passive meaning. You could also practice question formation by challenging students to create a question for each line of music. For example, “What do people do with chestnuts?” – The roast them on an open fire. / “Who sings yuletide carols?” – Yuletide carols are sung by a choir. Turn it into a game and see which team comes up with the most correctly written questions.

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