I love taking students on field trips. Even as the world turns to virtual field trips for their ease, I still feel getting students to leave the classroom and talk to people or explore real texts is worth the extra hassle of the logistics.
This is a nice activity I came across when I was working at an Intensive English language program that works well getting students to talk to native speakers in authentic conversations and also helps them to understand a little bit of American culture. I’m posting it here with Christmas in mind, but it can work with any holiday or cultural event. To simplify planing on your part, students could do this as homework. I’ve had students interview butchers at the grocery store, old men playing chess in the park, people waiting for the bus…It’s amazing who will speak to an ESL student wanting to practice English.
And as with any activity that has a productive component, it’s easy to throw in a vocabulary or grammar focus as well by asking students to use particular words or a specific grammar form.
What follows are the instructions I usually give students:
Your mission is to interview two Americans about Christmas. You will need to prepare questions in advance. To do so, think of something that you want to know about Christmas. It might be about how or why we celebrate. Maybe you have seen something you don’t understand and want to know more about it and its connection to Christmas. Or perhaps you have a question about the history of the holiday.
Once you have decided on your topic, write 4-7 questions that will help you find out what you want to know. For example, if you want to know how people celebrate Christmas, you could ask, “What kind of food do you eat on Christmas?”
Now that you have written your questions, find two Americans to interview. Be sure to introduce yourself and explain why you are doing this interview first. Ask if they have time for a short interview. Then ask your questions. Take notes on their answers.
Write a short (one-page double-sided) summary of what you learned about Christmas.
Liked this post? Check out some of my books on