A Primer for Celebrating Holidays in ESL Classrooms

By Mary Ann Zehr — December 07, 2007 1 min read
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It will soon be Christmas—a holiday celebrated by many Americans but not ALL Americans or students attending U.S. schools. The fact that Christmas is celebrated by many Americans gives teachers of English-language learners an opportunity to teach something about American culture, but the fact that it’s not celebrated by everyone means they need to be sensitive in how they talk about it. The coming of Christmas can be a chance to talk about holidays in other countries as well as the United States.

Colorin Colorado has posted some advice on what to consider when celebrating holidays in classrooms with students from many religious and ethnic backgrounds. It includes some useful tips, such as don’t expect one student to be an ambassador for a whole culture, and explore a holiday with something more than food, music, or popular icons.

I recently learned something new about Christmas. It is an official holiday in Jordan, whose citizens are predominantly Muslim. Click here or here to see Jordan’s holidays. You can find a database for holidays worldwide here. The database could be a resource for a lesson about holidays.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.