Lesson Plan for new TEFL teachers – 4 Presents for the English relatives

Here’s a lesson idea in response to the ELT Bites Xmas challenge. (It also conforms to the previous ELTBites challenge of ‘no technology usage’ in classroom…and it was actually unplugged in the first instance, as I improvised it, due to no planning time in mad, time-pressure, crazy last week)

I used this idea in three different, monolingual, low A2 level classes in Berlin last week and it worked well every time. This is quite a controlled lesson with little baby steps, but these Ss are very low level, mostly old and the majority of them like (and respond well to) this learning style.

In the previous week, I had introduced ‘extended family vocab’, so this followed on nicely from that. Even though this was done as a Xmas lesson, it could work well at any time of year…but the Christmassy vibe with the thought of presents on everyone’s mind added somewhat to the feel….it could be used for a wedding/birthday/anniversary/family get together etc


Quick Summary: Ss decide on 4 suitable presents for their visiting English relatives that will act as souveniers from their country/town. Then they discuss which are the best/worst presents from the class suggestions, leading into a general discussion about presents.

NB: I have written this out in a detailed way to help Newbie teachers…so don’t get offended you experienced dinosaurs, thinking I’m patronising you – I’m doing it for the kids! J  Please feel free to comment on how this could have been made better though aforementioned killer, experienced teachers!



Elicit ‘family gatherings’/’meeting the relatives/inlaws’ or similar from Ss
T to Ss: What’s Xmas all about? What happens at Xmas after all the presents and food?
BOARD: Relatives from England coming to visit

T to Ss: What happens normally when relatives visit? Do you go to the airport?
(1 min chat in groups – quick feedback)

T to Ss: Just remind me…Why are the relatives coming? Answer: For Xmas
BOARD: Relatives from England coming to visit for Xmas

Elicit: Xmas present
T to Ss: If they are coming for Xmas, should we buy something?
T: We have 4 English relatives (I recycled most of the ‘extended family’ vocab here from the previous class)


Adult woman

Adult man

Teenage girl

Teenage boy
T: We must buy a present so that our relatives can remember Berlin or Germany, like a souvenir. If I go to NY what souvenir could I buy?
Answers: T-shirt with I love NY / Small Empire State Building statue etc
T: If I go to Mexico what souvenir could I buy?
Ânswers:  A sombrero / Bottle of tequila etc

T: So, I have bought a present for the girl
BOARD: Teenage Girl – Lady Ga Ga CD

T: Is that a good souvenir present for the girl? Answer: No
T: Why not?   Answer: It’s international / You can buy it anywhere / It’s not German

(Cross out Lady Ga Ga CD )

T: OK, well I’ve got another present for the woman
BOARD:  Adult woman – Jurgen Drews T-shirt
(Jurgen Drews is a joke singer from the 70s in Germany…think David Hasslehof!)

T: Is that a good present? Answer: No!
T: Why not? It’s German   Answer: It’s not a GOOD present / I don’t like him etc

(Cross out Jurgen Drews CD )

T: OK. So, what kind of presents have you got to buy?
Answer: Good presents from Germany or Berlin

(Set the groups up – Set the time – ICQ the time limit…I did 5 mins – Monitor and assist with vocab if needed)
(Warn Ss of remaing time e.g. You’ve got 2 mins left / 1 min left  – Stop task)

T: OK, so we’ve got some really good ideas. Now we need to find out what ALL the ideas are in the class. SO you will have to ask a question to other people. If I want to know what someone has bought, what question can I ask?
Elicit: What have you got for the (man/woman/boy/girl)?
Drill it with some Ss, then elicit again to…
BOARD: What have you got for the (man/woman/boy/girl)?

T: And what can you say after if it’s a great or fantastic idea?
Elicit (or give): Really? That’s a great present.

T: And what can you say if it’s not such a great present?
Elicit (or give): Really? Oh, that’s nice.

(Drill these two reactions and then BOARD them)

T: Just practise that question and reaction in your group now. You’ve got 1 min

T: OK, so now we are going to find out all the presents we bought
(Group students so that each new group has a member from the previous groups)

T: Now, you do not need paper. You do not need pens. Ask the people in your group what they bought. You’ve got 5 mins. (ICQ – start task – monitor – warn about end time)

T: So, now we’ve got all the information. Let’s just check (Get a Ss to ask someone across the class in open pairs). Jutta can you ask Anna what she bought for one of the relatives? Ask about the boy, please. (Repeat same Question with different Ss).

Now, we’ve just heard about 2 presents. What do you think is the best present for the boy…from those 2?
(Get Ss opinions)

T: OK, good. Can you remember my question? (prompt) “What do you…”
Elicit:  What do you think is the best present for the boy?
Drill (with different relatives substitutions) – then…
BOARD: What do you think is the best           present for the boy?

T: What’s the opposite of ‘best’?      Ss Answer: ‘worst’

BOARD: What do you think is the best / worst present for the boy/girl/man/woman?
T sets up 5 min whole class Mingle activity – monitor with notepad for good usage and errors – warn about end time. Finish Mingle and put Ss back in original groups – Board feedback + congratulate good use/peer led error correction.
T: Now, I’ve bought some presents too! Ask me what I bought.
S: What have you got for the man/woman/boy/girl?

After correct questions, T tells Ss prezzies and then boards them. (I had two very good prezzies, one OK prezzy & one purposefully awful prezzy)

Adult woman             Bag with Berlin logo

Adult man                  Empty Bottle of Berliner Beer

Teenage girl              Ampelmännchen bag
(FYI: this is the bag that a lot of tourists buy)

Teenage boy               Adidas Berlin trainers (limited edition)

T: So, now what do you think are the best and worst presents for the relatives? I will give you 2 minutes in your groups to agree on the best / worst presents.
(ICQ – monitor)

After task, hand out pens and get Ss to quickly board their ideas for the different categories

RELATIVE                PRESENT                          BEST                        WORST

Adult woman             Berlin Bag

Adult man                  Berliner Beer

Teenage girl              Ampelmännchen bag

Teenage boy             Adidas Berlin trainer (limited edition)
Lead into open discussion re cultural differences between Xmas traditions – food, time of giving prezzies, putting up tree etc…and several hundred possible Xmas discussion Qs…Here are just a few to get you started.

Xmas Discussion Questions

    1. What’s the thing you like/hate the most about Xmas?
    2. What are the top 5 words that you think of when you think of Xmas?
    3. Do the shops put Xmas things on the shelves too early and ruin the Xmas feeling?
    4. Is Xmas way too commercial/stressful now?
    5. Do you like receiving/giving presents?
    6. Would you be happy if you got a charity gift, like a card saying someone had bought a goat for a 3rd World family?

(This might need abit of background explanation!)

  1. What day do you think that Xmas is over for another year?
Bren Brennan

About Bren Brennan

Bren initially trained here at SGI and then joined the staff in 2005. Since 2006, he has taught abroad in Budapest, Berlin and now at Mondragon University in Spain. He returns to teach at SGI London every summer and completed the SGI Trinity DipTESOL in 2011. He also regularly writes posts for students here.
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