Halloween

“There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world”

Jean Baudrillard (1929 – 2007), French philosopher
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on Halloween has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

‘Halloween’ is an abbreviation of ‘All Hallows Eve’, which means the day before All Saints Day. But All Saints Day was not observed on 1st November until the 10th Century when Pope Gregory IV changed the date to coincide with the Celtic festival of Samhain. This festival celebrated the end of summer and the beginning of winter. At this time, the boundary between this world and the ‘Otherworld’ was at its thinnest, meaning spirits and fairies could easily pass over to our world. To hide from these spirits, the descendants of the Celts would wear a disguise, a tradition that continues to this day in Halloween costumes. In this ESL lesson plan on Halloween, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as how it is celebrated, its origins and their experience of this festival.

For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

The Atlantic | How Halloween Makes Kids More Monstrous

The article looks at experiments conducted in the past that shows when children (and adults) are in a group wearing anonymous disguises, their behaviour can be negatively affected. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “The Surprising History of Halloween” by HuffPost which looks at the history of Halloween from its Celtic roots until it came to be celebrated all over the world.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including how Halloween is celebrated in the student’s country, whether they celebrated the festival as a child and films/TV shows with a Halloween theme.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with Halloween such as ghost, costume and trick or treat. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about Halloween. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as what tricks they could play on someone who didn’t give them a treat, what the best Halloween costume are and whether or not Halloween is a bad influence on kids.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about the Halloween traditions of their country. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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