Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas are very important holidays in the language classroom. We want our students to feel comfortable and celebrated, we want them to understand that although we speak in another language and about other cultures, our class is a space that welcomes the traditions and values of their community.
In the same way it is during the days close to these celebrations that it’s hard to keep the class focused in our lessons. Precisely today, a week before Thanksgiving, I wanted to do an activity in which they needed to practice a specific grammatical aspect. I knew that it would be very difficult to sell the idea of this lesson and while thinking about how to motivate them to do the activity, it occurred to me that despite having a very busy schedule, I was going to spend about 60 minutes of my prep time making small thank you cards for each student.
I looked for suitable paper and markers and on each card I wrote a couple of sentences in the TL where I thanked everyone with a special and personalized message. I started class by telling them that I had a gift for each one and handed them their cards. I can’t take their smiley and happy faces out of my mind. It seemed as if I had given each one of them the latest video game, or if there was money on the cards. Each one gave me a smile and I knew that it was the right time to explain the grammatical activity. They worked like never before!
Sometimes we believe that the days before a special celebration we must change our lessons when in reality all we have to do is to give them an opportunity to feel special and recognized.
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