Doing something with Christmas songs

Summary: How you can use Christmas songs in the classroom - Putting the seasonal cheer back into grammar (and putting the grammar back into Xmas)

If there is one time of year when you know your students are going to hear English language music around (or at least local versions of songs they can also find the original of in English), it has to be Xmas. However, unless you have an Advanced class that love obscure vocab like “chestnuts” or “broomstick”, it is quite difficult to justify bringing such Xmas songs into the classroom. Here are some ideas of how you can add a language and grammar point to some Xmas songs and possibly even tie them in with your syllabus while bringing a little Xmas cheer into the classroom.

Christmas Song Grammar Points

Past tenses (Narrative tenses)

  1. Students try to fill the gap with the correct past tense of the verb (either totally guessing the verb or changing it from the infinitive) and then listen and check.
  2. Students try to put the verses of the song in order by how they think the story progresses and then listen and check

Good songs for past tenses include:

  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Frosty the Snowman

Prepositions Christmas Songs

Take all the prepositions out of a song, then students try to put them back in (either with no help, with mixed up answers or from multiple choice answers) and listen and check

Good songs for this include:

  • Jingle Bells
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)

Christmas Songs Pronunciation Points

Rhyming words
Students try to put words into gaps at the end of the lines of the songs by how they rhyme. There are several ways of doing this:

  1. Take out one of every pair of rhyming words and make students try to guess the missing word from their imaginations and knowledge of sounds
  2. The same as 1, but with the answers given mixed up at the end
  3. The same as 2, but with words that students might think rhyme but don’t as distactors in the list of words
  4. Take out all the rhyming words and give them as a list at the top of the song. Students have to match up the pairs of rhyming words and then put each pair back into the song from the meaning.

Good ones for this include:

  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Let it Snow
  • Rocking around the Christmas Tree
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Away in a Manger
  • We Three Kings

Writing Christmas Songs

Songs which have a good simple structure that students can write their own versions of or verses for include:

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • The Christmas Song

Vocabulary Xmas Songs

As well as lots of lovely specific Xmas vocab they aren’t going to need the rest of the year, Xmas songs are full of outdated words like “gay”, “bough”, “yore”, “merry” (all from Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) that you can use for practice of guessing vocabulary from context, knowing for once that everyone is in an equal position of not knowing any of it before you start.


Other articles about Christmas:

Copyright © 2007

Written by Alex Case for

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