Christmas: Unscrooged

The festive season is upon us and so are the holiday moaners. If you happen to know a Scrooge or a Grinch, it might be a good idea to try and listen to them and ‘infect’ them with the virus of the festive joy. Today, under the Christmas tree, you will find a handful of ideas for “unscrooging” Christmas, and an opportunity to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Scrooge unleashed, or the art of generating ideas

● Students work in pairs or small groups. Their task is to note down, within a time limit, various objections to Christmas and the festive atmosphere that the proverbial Scrooge could voice.

● Depending on your students’ proficiency, you may insist on their

formulating complaints with the help of the Present Continuous with ‘always’, using ‘will’ or ‘would’ or just the Simple Present. Other possible

expressions may include ‘I can’t stand’, ‘I hate it when …’, ‘It bugs me

when … “,” It really gets on my nerves when … “. You can either give students complete freedom or provide them with a couple of sentence starters.

Tiny Tim steps in, or the art of rebuttal

● Students exchange their lists of complaints and prepare a rebuttal of Scrooge’s arguments.

● This phase can first be done in writing and then orally with other students

or you can start with the speaking straightaway if your students’ level is high enough. 

● When refuting arguments, students can use various expressions to give advice (e.g. ‘If I were you’, ‘I think you should’) and to make suggestions (e.g., “What about …”, “Why don’t you …”) and you can provide students with ready-made expression if you choose to do so; just like in the first phase.

● Students should switch roles half way through the exercise, so that everyone gets a chance to both complain and refute arguments.

Scrooge vs. Tiny Tim, or the art of debating

● Instead of pair work from the exercise above, you can transform the whole task into a debate where half of the group will present Scrooge’s arguments, and the other half those of Tiny Tim. The debate can be divided into several phases; after Tim’s counterarguments, Scrooge may “attack” again, and Tim defend his position one more time.

● In addition to Scrooge and Tim, you can introduce other holiday

characters, e.g. Scrooge can be supported by Grinch or Wet Bandits from

‘Home Alone’, and Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, or Rudolph can join Tim’s team.

Blog entry, or the art of writing and commenting

● Instead of speaking tasks, you can exclusively focus on writing and have students   create Scrooge’s  blog entry or online post.

● You can use the following model:

You have never liked Christmas. Write an entry on your English blog in which you:

  • explain why you don’t like Christmas
  • describe a bad Christmas experience
  • suggest an alternative way of spending Christmas
  • encourage readers to express their opinion on this topic

● Students work individually or in pairs, and then they pass their texts on to other students whose task is to add a comment defending Christmas.

● The text comes back to the author who replies to it and gives it back to the person who wrote the comment, etc.

● In another version of this exercise, after one comment has been added, the text is passed on to another student or pair who add their comment to the post or expand / respond to the already existing comment, etc.

Author: Ewa Torebko

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