Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

ESL Nativity Story Listening Quiz

Christmas has become a fun filled holiday for people all over the world - regardless of whether they are Christian or not.  As a result many people are very familiar with the idea of Santa Claus, gift giving, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Jingle Bells and Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings. 

However, some people are not familiar with the reason practicing Christians celebrate this special day. 

The following video tells the story of Christmas that comes from the Bible.  It does not matter if you believe the story or not, but IS is important to know the story itself if you want to understand Christian beliefs and culture.

Friday, December 18, 2015

ESL Charlie Brown Christmas Activities

50 years after it was created, one of the most beloved Christmas holiday TV specials continues to be the animated cartoon  "A Charlie Brown Christmas"  

Why is it so special? According to Robert Loyd, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, " it isn't about any invented crisis in the life of an imaginary  creature. There are no elves, no reindeer, no Santa. It's just about us. 

The Spirit of Christmas 
 Charles Schulz, the creator of "Peanuts"  wrote a little fable  about how a meaningful  holiday such as Christmas has become so commercialized that it has  lost any meaning. The only magic Christmas now allows  is the kind we create ourselves when we pay attention to someone besides ourselves.  

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" remains true to both the spirit of Christmas and to the spirit of "Peanuts."

Although it t emphasizes the need for hope and love, it still reminds us that for many people around the world the Christmas season can bring anxiety and a feeling of being alone and unloved. 

 "I know nobody likes me," sighs Charlie Brown in the animated special.  "Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ESL Listening Speaking Activities

One of the most loved North American Christmas stories of all time  is the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  

Although Dr. Seuss, a well-known children's writer, originally wrote the story for children, it has messages for young and old. 

The story and the animated video ,now shown on television every year  at Christmas time, continues to delight millions of of people whether they are watching it for the first time, or the 30th time. 

Now that we have officially entered the Christmas season, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to watch an important  piece of North American culture.  

It doesn't matter if you live in Australia, Europe, Asia or  the Middle East, you will still enjoy learning a little about a series of Christmas messages that apply to every culture or religion. 

If you plan to live in North America, or if you already live here, it is even more important  that you know about this  story by Dr. Seuss. If you can mention any aspect of the How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or of Who ville  in casual conversation, people will think you are  a true American or Canada, and really "get us." 

This is also a way you can get your children involved. 

Activity 1#

Read and go through the following power point on your own, or with your children

Power Point Explaining the Basic Story and characters in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas


Watch the video as many times as you need to know and answer the comprehension questions below. 

1.  Listen to the song without  looking at the gap fill. Try to write down all the negative
     words that describe Mr. Grinch. 

2.  Listen as many times as you need and fill in the gaps. 

3.  Sing-along . This is a great song to practice enunciating. Make sure you open your 

     mouth as wide as you can in order to let your tongue get to the right place. Sing as 
     slowly as the singer. 

  How the Grinch Stole Christmas
   Discussion and Writing Questions

1.         Why do you think the Grinch hated Christmas so much? 

2.         What role does Cindy Lou play in the story. What does she do to change the Grinch? 

3.         Why do you think the Who's reacted the way they did when they found out that all their things              had  been  stolen? 

4.         Do you know anyone who is like the Grinch? What might some be some reasons  why                          that person acts that way?

5.         What did the people of Whoville learn from the Grinch's behaviour in the story?  

6.         If you were the Grinch's defense attorney, what kind of arguments could you make in
            his favour?  

7.         What is the message of the story?  Is there more than one message?  Explain.

8.          If you had to spend an afternoon with Grinch for the afternoon what would you do to
            get the Grinch in the holiday spirit?

9.         If you could give the Grinch one gift, what would it be? 

10.       List some differences between the Grinch and Cindy's Lou's personalities. Give examples. 

11.       The Grinch has a serious character flaw. He experiences a crisis and then changes for the
            better. Describe the Grinch's character flaw at the beginning of the story. What  crisis changes
            him?  How did he change? 

12.       Dr. Seuss wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas to point out how the media and  marketing 
            have created a holiday focused on spending money to buy things.  
            Discuss how has the media changed holidays such as Christmas, New Years, Chinese 
            New Year, Valentine's Day, Mother;s Day etc. and how they are celebrated. 

13.       Would you write a different ending to the story? Explain why or why not. If yes, how would
             you end  it? 

14.       Do you know anyone who had some bad personality characteristics, but who became  a better              person after something happened to him or her. This could be you, or anyone you know. Tell 
             what happened, and why this person changed. 

15.       Write a letter to persuade the Grinch why he should change his mind.   

Acting out the Story  

Readers Theatre How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This is an easier version of the story written like a small play. It is perfect for students to use as a play in the classroom. The roles are broken down so that everyone can have  one , two or even three parts.
  1. Assign roles to different students and have the practice in groups. ( If you have a large class, you could divide them into two or three groups) 
  2. Start with having them read their lines normally, but fluently, without hesitating or stumbling. 
  3. Go over the pronunciation of different words.
  4. Now, have the students put the maximum amount of expression in their voice. Practice as often as they need. 
  5.  Have them memorize their lines and be able to repeat them in the correct order. 
  6. Perform the mini play in class

Monday, December 14, 2015

ESL Christmas Listening Quizzes and Activities

I have posted a variety of Christmas listening and speaking activities for you.  Listen as often as you need to before you answer questions. Discuss the questions in the speaking activities with your friends, families and classmates. 

If one of the stories includes the script, try to listen to the story without reading it the first time. Then, read and listen at the same time. 


Source: learningenglishwithmichelle


Source: learningenglishwithmichelle

Christmas in the 17th and 18th Centuries  

 Christmas is coming! - a conversation (intermediate) with :
I. Pre-Listening Exercises
II. Listening Exercises 

III. Post-Listening Exercises
Topic : Christmas gifts
Speakers : a man and 2 children
(Source: esl-lab.com)

The Christmas Gift - a narration (difficult) with :
I. Pre-Listening Exercises
II. Listening Exercises 
III. Post-Listening Exercises 
(Source: esl-lab.com)

Fred Talks about the daily routine for his family on Christmas Day in Canada   (Source: ELLLO)

 Christmas Tree Traditions  ( ELLL0)
Anja compares Christmas tree traditions with Fred  
 Source ELLLO)

Darren discusses how he feels about Christmas: what he enjoys about it and what aspects he finds stressful.  Source ELLLO  

Sharon talks about she feels at Christmas 

It's Christmas Time Listening Game

'Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat!'

Christmas is the biggest festival in Britain and is celebrated on 25th December. The four weeks before Christmas are called Advent, and are traditionally celebrated in churches by lighting a candle each Sunday during Advent. Nowadays, many people in Britain are not very religious, but they still celebrate Christmas. (continue to listen Source BBC)
Reading Comprehension Activities PDF

At Christmas time, it's always worth remembering that there are many countries where Christianity isn't the main religion. The official religion of the UK is Christianity, but n London - one of the world's most multicultural cities - there are many non-Christians who also celebrate Christmas. In this program, Yvonne Archer finds out why this   is the case and what they like to do at Christmas time.(Source BBC)

 From Paris to Burgundy, Christmas is the stuff of dreams - where rich sounds of medieval carols abound, simple rituals are shared by families and friends, and windows are illuminated by lights. SOURCE: ESOL Courses 

German Christmas Markets
German Christmas markets are famous all over the world. This week we visit six of the oldest,most celebrated and most unusual. Today we are at probably the most famous of them all the Nuremberg Christmas Market.SOURCE: ESOL  Courses 

Every year, a theatrical group called The Washington Revels celebrates the holiday season and winter solstice with a festive Christmas production featuring traditional songs and dances. The award-winning group selects its themes from a different part of the country - or the world - every year. This year was Christmas as it was celebrated in rural England in the 1830s. SOURCE: ESOL Courses  

When Christmas is just around the corner, most people have very little Christmas shopping left to do. But it's a well known fact that on Christmas Eve, most of the shoppers on the streets are men. So is that last minute rush just a fun part of the Christmas shopping experience for men, and do they actually like Christmas shopping? Yvonne Archer goes in search of a few answers. (Source: BBC)

Poinsettias are the best selling potted flowering plant in the United States. Red poinsettias are a traditional part of Christmas celebrations, which is why almost all of them are sold in winter. Find out about the history of this colourful plant and why it is so popular in America.  (Source:  learning English TV  VOA environment and Science) 

The Million Dollar Christmas Tree

Jingle bells, jingle bells... Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Watch this video to see how a shop is getting ready for Christmas. -  Includes quiz, vocabulary and transcript. Part of  Word on the Street series. - Source: learnenglishteens.uk British Council  

If you walk into many London shops, you might find it difficult to believe that Christmas is still several weeks away. In this program, with the help of a market researcher, we find out why Christmas seems to be getting earlier and earlier. Source: BBC 

Imagine this program is an invitation to a special kind of Christmas party - not the kind you have at home for friends - but what we call 'the office Christmas party', or less formally, 'the office Christmas do'.(Source: BBC)

We've been out of the office to talk to people about their feelings at Christmas time. We've also been asking people to describe their ideal Christmas. (Source: BBC)

 Some of the many names of the short, fat, jolly old man with a long beard, wearing a red suit with white fur who delights children at Christmas | Words and Their Stories

The story of the man in the red suit who brings gifts to children at Christmas. Radio Broadcast with transcript "
(Source: : learningenglish.voanews.com)

How to Host a Christmas Dinner New
A short instructional video listing the steps needed to host a Chrstimas dionner for family and friends. Lisdten as many times as you need to and answer the comprehension questions. Source: ESOL Courses 

The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry  
Listen and Read comprehension 
A spoken version of the famous story of a very poor young husband and wife  who each give up the most valuable thing they own in order to give the other a Christmas gift.
(Source: VOA  Quiz from ESL Listening.com)

Charles Dickens' 1843 classic "A Christmas Carol" is quite possibly the most often told holiday story in the English-speaking world.

The very wealthy Ebenezzer Scrooge is miserable, while his poor employee Bob Cratchit is a contented man with a virtuous disposition and family.

Scrooge, a hardened, greedy man who undergoes a great emotional change one Christmas Eve through the assistance of three ghosts. Each ghost represents some form of loss. The Ghost of Christmas Past represents the lost innocence and kindness Scrooge endures in a difficult childhood and young manhood. The Ghost of Christmas Present represents the love and fellowship Scrooge is losing in his current life.
Scrooge experiences a change of heart while he reviews Christmas memories and once again discovers what it is like to feel and live in the spirit of love, kindness, and giving..
(Listen and read the classic tale of Scrooge)    (Source ESL Bits.com)

Trailer for the Movie A Christmas Carol 

Listening Quiz for the trailer to A Christmas Carol : Source ESL Video.com

Now that all the Thanksgiving leftovers have been eaten and the Halloween costumes have been put away, everyone is getting ready for Christmas! It’s supposed to be a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but somehow it’s become a huge commercial holiday and the most important time of year for retailers.  (SOURCE: Podcast from Melanie ESL)

The Christmas Cuckoo  
A long time ago, there was village in the North Country. All its inhabitants were poor, because their fields were barren, and they didn't have much to sell; but the poorest of them all were two brothers called Scrub and Spare. They were shoemakers. Their shack was very small. The door was low and always open, because there was no window.Continue here  
(Source:John Robinson's ESL Listening.com   

Chatty Santa (chattysanta.com)   

"Type what you’d like Santa to say to a particular person, and Chatty Santa will say it. Then send it to the designated person..." (SOURCE: Larry Ferlazzo)

Christmas Greeting from Santa  
Send your friends and relatives Christmas greetings from Santa by clicking here 
(Source:  Teflteacher's blog)

Christmas Speaking Activities 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

ESL Christmas Vocabulary and Reading Activities

Understanding some of the most common vocabulary will help you enjoy the Christmas carols you listen to and sing along to during the holidays.

Here are a few vocabulary flashcards, quizzes, games and activities to help you learn and remember some of the important Christmas words you should know. 

This first item is actually a reading, but it is an interesting one that I hope you will enjoy. 

Mistletoe, the kiss of Christmas"It;s a vintage year for the legendary mistletoe berries." In Britain's mistletoe-growing regions, a branch would be brought in to protect the house.any woman walking underneath could not refuse to be kissed, or she would remain an old maid." (telegraph.co.uk) continue reading

Advent Calendars 

Advent Calendar ( Interactive)  with questions about Christmas from around the world (\Project Britain./com)

December Advent Calendar  with pictures and poems
 ( Smile- a-day.com)

Easy Vocabulary Quizzes 

Christmas vocabulary  (learningchocolate.com)

More Difficult Vocabulary and Quizzes 

( by learningenglishwithmichelle)


Christmas and New Year's Vocabulary Vocabulary ( BBC) A  lot of Christmas vocabulary can be used with or without the word ‘Christmas’ in front of it. For example we can talk about ‘Christmas crackers’ or just ‘crackers’:   lot of Christmas vocabulary can be used with or without the word ‘Christmas’ in front of it. For example we can talk about ‘Christmas crackers’ or just ‘crackers’: 
- with a QUIZ

Christmas Expressions 
 Christmas Crossword #1 
"Click here to download a PDF version with solution, and here for an interactive web version which should work on smartphones and tablets. Have fun!"(englishblog.com)

A Christmas Crossword interactive or printable (englishblog.com)
Christmas hangman - "Explore the picture and play the hangman game..."Created by Renée Maufroid. (Ac. Lille)
Presents for Xmas (and the rest of the year!)

Matching - Flashcards (Java / non-Java) - Concentration - Word Search- with a list of terms used in these activities (with pictures)Activities created by: Renée Maufroid

    Holidays from Different  Cultures  at Christmas Time 

    Christmas Around the World (New)
    Christmas in Italy                            Christmas in Ireland
    Christmas in Japan                         Mexican Christmas  
    Christmas in  Netherlands             Christmas in Poland                     
    Christmas in Russia                     Christmas ion Scotland
    Christrmas in Spain                      Christmas in Sweden 

    Christmas in Ukraine                   Christmas in the U.S.

    Christmas in the U.K.                   Christmas in Wales

    Christmas Short Stories  New
    Story Nory is a website where actors read famous stories and myths  You can rerad and listen to the story at the same time or download the story to listen to as an mp3 file.