Teaching Halloween Vocabulary to ESL Students

Today is October 31st and that means ESL teachers across the globe are busy explaining Halloween to their students. It’s a great opportunity to have fun in the classroom and I advice you to do whatever you school or university is happy with you doing. Carve pumpkins, give out candy, watch movies… whatever they’ll let you do, do it! This is a fun day, like Christmas, and nothing gets students learning like fun.

For me, I have some pretty tight constraints in as far as what I can do in the class, so I keep my lessons a bit more overtly educational. Still, I like to blend in a little music and some visuals, and I always carve a couple of pumpkins beforehand to decorate the room. My students here in rural China have never seen anything like that before up close and it blows their minds!

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I like to start off a lesson like this by simply asking them, “What do you know about ______?” Then I’ll let them tell me what they’ve heard about Halloween. Chinese students tend to know a lot more about this holiday than, say, Christmas. Still, I take this chance to board some vocabulary and correct any misconceptions they may have.

After that, I go through this Halloween vocabulary PPT:

Halloween ESL Vocabulary from David Wills

When I finish up with that, I usually talk about pranks because that’s the last slide. Ask the students about pranks they’ve pulled or would like to pull. Then you can show them a prank video from YouTube (something scary is best).

Finally, I download the Halloween episode of Modern Family for them to watch. They can then try to describe what they saw because most of the vocabulary from the PPT pops up during the show.

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I'm the founder and editor of Beatdom Literary Journal, author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. I'm also a teacher and operate the popular website, TED-IELTS.

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