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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

December 15, 2004

Christmas is Coming!

kids_xmas.jpgChristmas is coming! Since I am a musical person at heart, Christmas means not only crisp, cool weather and the suspense of how the holiday will unfold, but also the advent of nostalgic Christmas songs. When I was young, I loved Christmas caroling with my friends. Sometimes our neighbors gave us hot apple cider after we sang for them. Even though I am in Japan now (and older, too), I still love listening to and singing Christmas songs. I also enjoy teaching them to my precious students. So in December, I make a great effort to introduce the lyrics and melodies of my four favorite Christmas songs to everyone in my English classes, from elementary school up to university and adults.

Even though I am in Japan now, I still love listening to and singing Christmas songs.

The Christmas songs we learn in ALL my classes are: "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Jingle Bells," "White Christmas" and "Silent Night." These songs are played on our class CD player when the children enter the classroom, or while they are copying the blackboard or writing in their workbooks. This way, they absorb the melody and lyrics subliminally and become familiar with them naturally. The music also creates a rather soothing Christmas atmosphere for us all.

christmas_art.gifTen minutes before the end of the first December English class, I hand the students Christmas prints with the lyrics to the four songs; all the prints are illustrated with Christmas images, which make them appealing to the eye. I then recite the lyrics, breaking them into easy-to-understand phrases, after which the students repeat. I then sing the song once for everyone to listen to while the class follows along on the print. We then sing each song together. I encourage the students to take the prints home and practice during the week.

The songs become more familiar and enjoyable for the students to sing as each week in December passes by and Christmas approaches.

The following scenario has become a tradition at our school. The last week, before the winter holidays, since the students know the songs pretty well and do not need to look at the prints, we can sing them from memory. I ask a student to turn the lights off in the classroom; I then ask another student to light an array of Christmas candles situated in the middle of the table we study at. Now the time has come for us to sing our four Christmas songs for the last time before winter break.

It is really beautiful for me to see the warm, soft candlelight shine on the precious faces of the darling children (or adorable university students) as we sing our Christmas songs together. When I look at their beautiful faces adorned in the candlelight, for a molecule of a moment I feel as if I were back home in New York with my friends Christmas caroling our neighbors. It is always a lovely moment for me. As is the tradition at our school, we then all make a Christmas wish and blow the candles out together. Then we all hold hands and say, "Merry Christmas!"

Please give it a try this Christmas if you can.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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