New Year – a lesson idea and a time to refocus

New Year – a lesson idea and a time to refocus

by | Dec 29, 2020 | Blog

Associated Links

New Year, new focus? January can be a good time to check in with students about their learning aims and set goals in order to help them stay motivated and keep on improving their English level.

Here we have a simple outline of a New Year lesson plan you could use with elementary level learners or higher to talk about Near Year traditions, which leads in neatly to a discussion about their English goals for 2021. Enjoy…

New Year Traditions Lesson Plan

Lesson aim: Refocusing on English goals through the theme of New Year traditions

Warmer: look at these different European New Year traditions. Guess which countries have these traditions?

Traditions                                             Countries

Eat 12 grapes                                        Greece
Throw plates at doors                       The UK
Hang an onion on the door             Denmark
Link arms and sing                             Spain

(Hint: we suggest you show pictures, video or flags of the countries to make this more visual for your students.)


Presentation and study: read the following. Were you correct?

The UK
People in the UK and in other English-speaking countries traditionally sing a song at midnight together, linking arms. The song is ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which is based on an old Scottish poem and means remembering old times.

To bring good luck for each of the next twelve months, the Spanish usually eat twelve grapes – one at each midnight chime.

In Denmark they say hello to the New Year by throwing glasses and plates at the doors of their friends and families to prevent bad luck.

Greeks often hang an onion on their doors to represent rebirth.

Comprehension questions: answer the following with your teacher or in pairs with other students:

  1. Why do the Spanish eat 12 grapes in total?
  2. Why do people hang onions on their doors in Greece?
  3. What country does Auld Lang Syne come from?
  4. When they sing this song, what do British people usually do?
  5. What do the Danes throw at the doors of friends and family?

Discuss with your teacher or other students:

  1. What typically happens at New Year in your country?
  2. What do you usually do at New Year?
  3. New Year is often a time to make New Year resolutions e.g., to stop smoking, to start exercising. Will you/Did you make any New Year resolutions this year?
  4. What is your English focus for 2021?


 Practice and activation: your English in the New Year.

Complete the following sentences with your teacher/other students or at home:

  • In three months I want to be able to ________________ in English.
  • In six months I want to be able to ________________ in English.
  • I feel confident in English when I ________________.
  • I don’t feel confident in English when I ________________.
  • Perhaps I’d like to do more ________________ in lessons.
  • At home I can practise ________________ by ________________.

Students can be a bit vague – they may just say: “Improve my speaking” so you can ask further questions to drill down into specific functional things they want to achieve. Here area couple of examples:

Example 1: “Tell me some conversations you want to have in English.”
Example 2: “Where do you want to use your English?”


Warm-down and homework: review through language activation and set a follow-up task.

Have students act out a specific tradition from the list above, or a tradition from their own country. Others try to guess what it is. For homework, ask them to bring in something that they use in their New Year traditions, either the item or a picture, so you can revise this at the start of the next lesson.


Refocusing on English goals can be motivating for both students and teachers, encouraging students to think about what they want to achieve.

We hope this simple plan may be a welcome step on their English journey in 2021. For more New Year traditions, check out this page: or for how to use a sample lesson worksheet online, watch Louisa in this YouTube clip, based on the theme of work. Our sister organisation Global English TESOL has a range of plans available here for online teaching and here for classroom-based lessons.


Like to receive this lesson plan in PDF and Word format (so you can adapt it), along with sample pictures? Simply submit a comment on this plan in the box below and we will email it across to you within one working day.

Happy New Year from William and the Christian TEFL team.


  1. Colette Harding

    This looks useful, I can send the first part to my students on our WhatsApp group today as I wish them Happy New year, then when we meet on Zoom next week, we can feedback on that and continue with the other tasks. Thanks.

  2. William Bradridge

    That sounds like a great idea Collette! I hope your students enjoy the New Year celebrations (albeit somewhat muted this year) and we’ll email across the materials later today.
    BW, William

  3. Martyn Whitfield

    ESOL is not just about learning English language but also about culture and history. A good ESOL teacher will also learn about the students homeland , traditions and culture. This lesson plan is ideal for this as it allows the students to both learn and “teach”.

  4. William Bradridge

    Thanks for that valuable insight Martyn. We also benefit so much from the shared experience with our students and it’s one of the real pleasures of teaching we can all to often forget. Thanks for reminding us.

  5. Barbara Nagy

    Thanks very much – this is great for helping students think through what they want to achieve going into this year – and the feedback should help with future lesson planning too!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Privacy Policy