Tag Archives: Lent

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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


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