Thanksgiving

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus (341 – 270 BC), Greek philosopher
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on Thanksgiving 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.

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in various countries around the world. The holiday is a special time to spend with families, to eat traditional food, and to reflect on what we are really grateful for in life. In this ESL lesson plan on the Thanksgiving holiday, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the traditions of Thanksgiving, the origins of this national holiday and what they are truly thankful for in life.

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):

Huff Post | “The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School”

The article talks about how the story of the origins of Thanksgiving have been used by various people to make political points and what the true history is. 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 written? 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 “Holiday Of The Holidays: History Of Thanksgiving” by History and explains the various events through history that eventually led to the national holiday that is celebrated in the United States today .

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 what the students know about the traditions and origins of the Thanksgiving holiday.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with thanksgiving and expressing gratitude such as harvest, blessed and take for granted. 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 expressing gratitude. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the people they are most thankful for, things they take for granted and why it is important to show gratitude.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of the things they are most grateful for in life. 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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