Category Archives: Social Issues

This Student Gave Up English for Lent!

“Last year, I gave up English for Lent. For 40 days, with the exception of conversations, my own activities — the books I read, the television I watched, the podcasts I heard — had to be in one of the non-English languages I could understand, which included Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Chinese…” J. Kang, The New York Times, March 1, 2022 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Paige Vickers, NYT

 

Excerpt: I Gave Up English for Lent, By Jimin Kang, The New York Times, March 1, 2022

“As a college senior living in New Jersey at the time, I also made an exception for school; I had to graduate, after all, from a university in a country where English is a necessary part of getting by. This was a challenge that had been years in the making. Although I speak Korean with my parents at home, English — which I first learned at the age of 4 — is my strongest language. Growing up in Hong Kong, I spent 14 years at international schools with many classmates who, like me, spoke better English than they did their parents’ native tongues. I knew Korean, Chinese and English by the age of 10, but I couldn’t speak all of these languages in the breezy, cosmopolitan way I wanted…As someone who was approaching Lent after a long hiatus from faith, I wanted to give up a precious thing whose absence would make room for something revelatory. I wondered: What if I gave up language?At first, the idea terrified me. But my apprehension convinced me that this would be a good test both of who I was and what I could do… I challenged myself to broach difficult topics with my parents for the first time: What it meant to be a person of color in America, how it felt to endure heartbreak and how I had returned to a faith that they, having moved back to Korea, had begun to relinquish...All of us, no matter what languages we are born speaking and which ones we later adopt, are constantly coming to terms with parts of our identities that simultaneously define and confound us.”

* Ms. Kang is a graduate student in comparative literature and critical translation at the University of Oxford

To Learn More about Jimin and her experience, Visit Her beautiful website

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Last year, I gave up English for Lent.
  2. The books I read, the television I watched, the podcasts I heard — had to be in one of the non-English languages.
  3. I made an exception for school.
  4. This was a challenge that had been years in the making.
  5. The three languages asserted a hierarchy in which English became dominant.
  6. This was a challenge to my relationships with people and traditions closest to my heart.
  7. By combining intentional sacrifices with prayer and reflection, Lent offers a consistent space to inspect one’s life.
  8. Sacrifices can range from giving up common indulgences to adopting new habits.
  9. Nonbelievers too, have increasingly adopted the secular elements of Lenten practice.
  10. This student had taken a long hiatus from faith.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Sacrifices can range from giving up common indulgences to adopting new habits.
  2. At first, the idea terrified mine.
  3. And so the 40 days began.

II

  1. In lieu of podcasts, I would wake up and listen to 10-minute newsreels from Brazil.
  2. The  frigid New Jersey winter slowly turned to spring.
  3. I would make my way threw Spanish-language Netflix shows.

III

  1. One morning, I wrote in my journal about a dream I’d had.
  2. Writing in a  foreign language can be frustrate.
  3. You could listen to music from another country, even if it is in a language you do not understand.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

I ___myself to broach difficult___with my ___for the first time: What it meant to be a person of___in America, how it felt to endure ___and how I had returned to a___ that they, having moved back to___, had begun to___. In the process, I became a better___, writer, friend and a___of faith, if faith is ___linked to the___that one is but a small part in a greater ___of things.

WORD LIST: cosmos, intrinsically, person, daughter, relinquish, topics, heartbreak, Korea, faith, color, parents, challenged, belief,

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. After reading the article, why did the author decide to give up English for Lent?
  2. What is the author’s native language?
  3. What did the author learn after this experience? How was the knowledge helpful to her?
  4. How many languages can you speak?
  5. Which language would you choose to give up for Lent? Why?
  6. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education, Religion, Social Issues | Tags:

This Woman Saved Lives While on a Zoom Call

“All three crew members of a fishing boat named Bing Bing were rescued after a woman working from home saw the vessel capsize off Scituate, Mass. “She saved our lives,” one survivor said.” N.  Vigdor,The New York Times,Feb. 4, 2022

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Members of the Bing Bing fishing boat being rescued as seen in drone footage from the Scituate Fire Department.Credit- Scituate Fire Department

Excerpt: A Sinking Boat Caught Her Eye During a Zoom Call,  By Neil Vigdor,The New York Times,Feb. 4, 2022

“On a very clear day, Pam Harght can see Boston from her third-floor home office, which is roughly 30 miles to the southeast, but her eyes darted away from a Zoom call with her boss on Tuesday to the sea…A commercial fishing boat named Bing Bing that had been combing the choppy seas near Scituate, Mass., for surfclams had rolled over and partially disappeared, the authorities said…At that point, Ms. Harght said she excused herself from the meeting and called 911, figuring that surely others must have seen the overturned vessel and had already contacted emergency responders. But there was no one else, according to John P. Murphy, Scituate’s fire chief, who said on Friday that Ms. Harght had played a pivotal role in facilitating the rescue of all three of the boat’s crew members from the 42-degree waters of Massachusetts Bay…“She saved our lives,” he said. “If it wasn’t for her calling, nobody would have found us and nobody would have known.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Pam eyes darted away from a Zoom call with her boss on Tuesday to the sea.
  2. A commercial fishing boat named Bing Bing had been combing the choppy seas near Scituate, Mass.
  3. Ms. Harght, 38 started working from home during the pandemic.
  4. Seconds later, the boat just vanished.
  5. The crew members, who were in the water for 45 minutes, were experiencing hypothermia.
  6. They also had ingested diesel fuel and were clinging to a hose from the boat.
  7. It is likely that part of the boat’s equipment for dredging caught on something, causing the vessel to overturn.
  8. Mr. Roderick, 50, a father of four from New Bedford, Mass. began to weigh his mortality.
  9. Mr. Roderick said that his chest was sore from treading water.
  10. Monte Rome, the owner of Intershell International, said that it was serendipitous that Ms. Harght had been watching.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Over a very clear day, Pam Harght can see Boston.
  2. Ms. Harght, lives in Marshfield, Mass.
  3. A commercial fishing boat had been combing the choppy seas.

II

  1. Ms. Harght started working from home during the pandemic.
  2. The crew members were in the water for 45 minutes.
  3. Chief Murphy said that all three men were expected to recover.

III

  1. All three crew member of a fishing boat were rescued.
  2. Ms. Harght, excused herself from the meeting and called 911.
  3. All three crew members had ingested diesel fuel.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “My boss is in L.A. Thirty seconds later, the boat just vanished. That’s when my jaw just dropped.”
  2. “She must have just looked up at the right time. The stars were aligned for these gentlemen being alive today.”
  3. “I was thinking about my children. In my imagination, I was never going to make it home. It was ice-cold water out. It was terrifying.”
  4. “It was serendipitous that Ms. Harght had been watching and that the hose acted as a float.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Main idea chart By Write Design

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever saved someone’s life? If yes please describe the incident.
  2. Do you know of other stories where someone saved another person’s life or had their life saved?
  3. How did Ms. Harght see the sinking boat?
  4. Where does Ms. Harght’s boss live?
  5. What caused Ms. Harght to work from home?
  6. What did Ms. Harght do after she saw the boat vanish?
  7. How many crew members were there on the boat?
  8. How many of the men recovered?
  9. According to Chief Murphy  what caused the boat to capsize? 
  10. Why didn’t the men use their cell phones?
  11. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

When Siblings Fight: A Bouncer, A Referee and a Therapist Have the Answers

“What do a bar bouncer, kindergarten teacher, hockey referee, marriage and family therapist, and police officer all have in common? They know how to break up a fight… But would their techniques work on my brawling twins? E. J. Sullivan, The New York Times, Nov./21

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Janik Söllner

Excerpt: Kids Won’t Stop Fighting? A Bouncer, a Therapist and a Referee Have Advice, By Emily J. Sullivan 11/2021

“I work from home, like countless professionals around the world. Apparently even Jimmy Fallon works from home now. Lately, when I scroll through my Twitter feed, I see memes and rants from frazzled parents new to the work-from-home hustle. Shouting siblings saturate the backgrounds of video posts, and wide-eyed parents stare helplessly into the lens.

Even before the pandemic had confined us to our homes, parents were seeking help from therapists and scanning parenting blogs for the answer to an age-old question: How do I get my kids to stop fighting?

My twin 5-year-olds, Penny and Layla, are sweet as pie but hell raisers when provoked. They clutch each other lovingly one minute and curse each other the next. Hell hath no fury like a sibling scorned.

As the mediator for mini quarreling versions of myself, I want to pull out my hair by the fistful. Sometimes, I channel my inner yogi and lead an impromptu group meditation. During other crises, I’ve sent us all to separate rooms, so I could hide from the bickering and guzzle rosé. At this point, I’d try just about anything.

Then it occurred to me — maybe I should turn to the pros.

Chris Harrod worked at pubs and nightclubs in Manchester, England, as a bar bouncer, or doorman as the Brits call it, for 11 years. According to Harrod, the gritty night stops were often run behind the scenes by gangsters and dark money…’The trick is using minimum force and maximum effort,’ Harrod told me when I asked how to stop a fight before it starts… Steve Stevens, retired referee in chief for the U.S.A. Hockey Pacific District…’Before you skate in to break up a fight, you look ‘em over. If it’s a lopsided fight, you break it up,’ Stevens explained when I asked how he handled on-ice altercations.

‘If it’s a willing fight, you let ‘em fight,’ he continued… Let ‘em fight. I had to do some mental bargaining to wrap my head around this…I tracked down a veteran kindergarten teacher to find out her secret to coaxing good behavior.

Chriss Thompson has been teaching kindergarten for 18 years at Roynon Elementary School in La Verne, Calif. ‘I teach them that when someone is doing something they don’t like, to tell them in a nice firm voice, ‘Stop it, I don’t like that,’ Thompson explained.

This method sounded simple enough, and I love the concept of teaching my girls to be assertive and vocal, and to set boundaries. These are life lessons beneficial to everyone, especially budding young women.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. A  Bouncer has advice for  parents.
  2. A referee also had some sound advice to stop kids from fighting.
  3. These conflict resolution experts know how to stop fights before and after they start.
  4. But would their techniques work on my brawling twins?
  5. Apparently even Jimmy Fallon works from home now.
  6. Shouting siblings saturate the backgrounds of video posts.
  7. Even before the pandemic had confined us to our homes, parents were seeking help from therapists.
  8. My twin 5-year-olds, Penny and Layla, are sweet but hell raisers when provoked.
  9. Sometimes, I channel my inner yogi and lead an impromptu group meditation.
  10. I like to hide from the bickering and guzzle rosé.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

As the mediator for mini quarreling versions of myself, I want to pull out my hair by the fistful. Sometimes, I channel my inner yogi and lead an impromptu group meditation. During other crises, I’ve sent us all to separate rooms, so I could hide from the bickering and guzzle rosé. At this point, I’d try just about anything.

Reading Comprehension Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “The trick is using minimum force and maximum effort. “Even the roughest, toughest lads would use the same approach, and much of what they did was just menace. You’d look at ‘em and think there’s no way I want to fight you.”
  2. “Before you skate in to break up a fight, you look ‘em over. If it’s a lopsided fight, you break it up.If it’s a willing fight, you let ‘em fight. Keep watch but don’t jump into the fray until one of ‘em grabs a hold of the other or they go down. You do not get in the fight — that’s the fastest way to get knocked out.”
  3. “Maintain composure — it’s easy to get rattled when you’re with people who are arguing. You want to soften the anger of both parties. Validate each person. Point out what the two sides have in common so they can stop feeling like they are on opposing teams and can get on the same team.”
  4. “Have one stay in the house, one step outside. Get them far away from each other and out of each other’s eyesight. If they both live there, we can’t tell either of the parties to leave; we try to come to a resolution.”
  5. “I teach them that when someone is doing something they don’t like, to tell them in a nice firm voice, ‘Stop it, I don’t like that’.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. When you were young did you fight your siblings?
  2. How did your parents stop the fights?
  3. If you are a parent, do your kids fight? How do you stop them from fighting?
  4. According to Chris Harrod, what is the trick to stopping a fight?
  5. What happened when the mom tried the “Manchester” bar bouncer approach?
  6. What was the outcome when the mom used the “Hockey” referee advice with her kids?
  7. According to the author of this article when did the “L.A.P.D.”  method worked the best?
  8. When did the author’s twins behave nicely? Why do you think they did this?
  9. List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

Health Care for Trans People Gets Better in MA!

“The new MassHealth guidelines will cover more services and remove some onerous requirements that have kept trans and gender-diverse communities from receiving services.”  D.  Ducar, The Boston Globe,  September 7, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Philip Steury- Adobe

Excerpt: Massachusetts leads the way in caring for the health needs of trans and gender-diverse people. By Dallas Ducar, The Boston Globe,  September 7, 2021, 

“The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that Americans need better health care access, especially for those who are most marginalized. States should reassess what is considered medically necessary to expand equitable coverage and access — including for transgender and gender-diverse people.

On Sept. 3, MassHealth took that next step forward. It updated the state’s Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination for gender-affirming care. MassHealth uses these guidelines to determine what care is deemed necessary and paid for. Gender-affirming services currently include services such as hair removal, surgery, pubertal blockade, and hormone therapies.

Expanding access to these services will improve mental health and save livesThese advances are landmark examples of how the government has led by example in advancing care for trans and gender-diverse individuals. The new MassHealth guidelines will cover more services and remove some onerous requirements that have kept trans and gender-diverse communities from receiving services… MassHealth has made a move in the right direction by recognizing the variability in gender-affirming care. It’s time for private payers to follow this same path. To be sure, there are concerns that individuals will join MassHealth or other insurers strictly for gender-affirming care and then leave. These arguments are scarecrow arguments and advance the idea that gender-affirming care is a lifestyle choice. The fact is, gender-affirming care is life-saving care.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the current  health care situation for Trans and gender-diverse people.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that Americans need better health care access,
  2. Especially for those Americans who are most marginalized.
  3. States should reassess what is considered medically necessary.
  4. Medical coverage  should include transgender and gender-diverse people.
  5. *These arguments are scarecrow arguments and advance the idea that gender-affirming care is a lifestyle choice.
  6. MassHealth uses guidelines to determine what care is deemed necessary and paid for.
  7. Unfortunately, coverage for gender-affirming services has been trailing behind the needs of the trans communities.
  8. These advances are landmark examples.
  9. MassHealth guidelines will cover more services and remove some onerous requirements.
  10. Private insurers have attempted to apply a more restrictive model.

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Gender-affirming care/caring is only the first steps/step. When we cared/care for our most/more marginalized, we provide/providing better health cares/care overall. We all have/having some/any relationship to gendered/gender. We know that caring/care for the whole person allows four/for better health and decreases the overall costs.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, mark it NA. If the statement is false  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that Americans need better health care access.
  2. States do not have to reassess what is considered medically necessary to expand equitable coverage and access.
  3. On Sept. 3, New York Medical Center took that next step forward. It updated the state’s Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination for gender-affirming care.
  4. Gender-affirming services currently include services such as hair removal, surgery, pubertal blockade, and hormone therapies.
  5. Coverage in Massachusetts has continued to advance over the years:
  6. In 2021, the attorney general’s office reminded providers that MassHealth gender-affirming surgeries are not covered.
  7. Private payers, on the other hand, have traditionally relied on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care 7 to determine necessity.
  8. According to WPATH, every trans and gender-diverse person has the same types of gender-affirming care needs.
  9. According to WPATH, every trans and gender-diverse person has specific types of gender-affirming care, and types of social transition needed. There’s no one size fits all model.
  10. MassHealth has made a move in the right direction by recognizing the variability in gender-affirming care.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. How does MassHealth determine what care is necessary for gender-affirming care?
  2. What new services are included for gender-affirming patients?
  3. Name several advances that have occurred in Massachusetts Healthcare coverage over the years.
  4. What gender-affirming healthcare advances have occurred on the national level?
  5. Why is the Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock decision so important?
  6. What does WPATH stand for and what function does it serve?
  7. Explain three new ideas that you have learned from reading this article. Was there anything that you did not understand? Was there any information left out of this article?

ANSWER KEY

New Year’s Celebrations!

“Celebrating the start of the New Year has been practiced for at least four thousand years. The following article reviews the history,  significance, and common traditions of this festive, and meaningful holiday.” History.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.

Excerpt: The History of New Year’s Celebration–History.com

“Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day).

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.

New Year Celebration, Tendillas Square, Spain

Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight.

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries.

New Year Celebration, Vienna, Austria.

In Sweden, it is believed that whoever gets that one peeled almond hidden inside the rice pudding at Christmas will get married within a year. the scoop.

 

In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

The London Eye on the River Thames during New Year fireworks and celebrations. The Telegraph.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

Chinese New Year, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Photo-NBC News

New Year Celebration New York City’s Times Square. Photo- C. Morris.

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight…Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 400-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds.”

WISHING EVERYONE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking,  vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article about New Year’s celebrations with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Task

Prediction: Analyze headings and photos.

Directions: Read the title of the post, and article.  Analyze the photo(s) to see if  you can predict what  information the article will discuss.  Then based on this information,  make a list of ideas,  words and phrases that might be in the article.

The K-W-L Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about New Year’s celebrations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

 

Vocabulary: Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia.
  2. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st.
  3. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the Gregorian calendar.
  4. Common traditions include attending parties, and eating special New Year’s foods.
  5. Other traditions include making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.
  6. The earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.
  7. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars.
  8. The calendars would pin the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.
  9. In Egypt the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
  10. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Vocabulary Organizer by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least five millennia.
  2. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays
  3. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Rome.
  4. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.
  5. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth).
  6. In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 3 and continue into the early hours of January 1.
  7. Revelers often eat specific foods that are believed to bring good crops for the coming year.
  8. Grapes in Spain, round fruits in the Philippines, suckling pig in Austria, soba noodles in Japan are all considered good-luck food.
  9. Other customs that are common in the U.S. include making resolutions.
  10. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight.

III Grammar Focus

Identifying Parts of Speech: Nouns

Directions: Identify the nouns in the following paragraph, then use the words to write a short paragraph about \ New Year celebrations in the United States.

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions format

Directions: use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

K-W-L Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. The article states, “ Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day).  Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.”
  2. Provide a description of when and how the New Year is celebrated in your country. If you live in the U.S. then discuss how you celebrate the New Year.
  3. Discuss the types of foods you like to eat on New Year’s Day and the significance of the food.
  4. A big New Year  tradition in the U.S. is making resolutions. Discuss a few of your own resolutions and why you are making them.
  5. What new ideas have you learned from this article? Discuss them with group members and the class.

ANSWER KEY

 

 

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