If you’re looking for inspiration for ESL lesson plans, it might be worth researching some popular seasonal festivals. Festival themed classes can allow you to change your lesson content or teaching style a little, celebrate another culture, or learn something important to your student. Here are five summer festivals to consider including in your ESL lesson plans.

Dragon Boat Festival

The most widely known part of this Chinese festival is the Dragon Boat Race, but a main theme of this festival is protection. Five animals – snakes, centipedes, scorpions, lizards, and toads – are believed to be protective and so are very important to this festival. Reading about or drawing these animals could be an enjoyable lesson. Playing Pictionary with one of these animals being the picture could be fun.

You could also watch a Dragon Boat Race with your student and then discuss what you have seen. You could use this to help your student practice verbs, describing people or talking about their feelings. Your student could even write a story, or a poem based on the Dragon Boat Race.

You can learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival and get some fun ideas here:

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is celebrated in some form by many cultures, so there is a good chance that your student will be familiar with it. You could read traditional stories about the sun to learn about different cultures and practice reading skills. Alternatively, you could learn about astronomy, summer insects or flowers. Another fun activity is to plan a picnic or garden party with your student.

The summer solstice is traditionally a time for setting goals for the future, so it is also a good chance to encourage your students to reflect on and share their learning goals.

You can learn more about the summer solstice and get some fun ideas here:

International Day of Friendship

Although this isn’t technically a festival, International Day of Friendship is a nice theme for classes for students of any age. Activities could include discussions about friendships, asking younger students to bring along and introduce their favourite toy or reading books about friendship.

You could even plan a special class that your student can invite friends to join. You can play games, read funny poems, or have an online party. It could help you get to know your student a little bit better and give both of you the chance to have fun together.

The Edinburgh Festival

Although the Edinburgh Festival isn’t traditional, it is a popular celebration of culture and the arts, making it the perfect inspiration for an online class. A fun activity would be to have a talent show, where your student can show off a skill they’ve been working on.

As comedy is a big part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, you could arrange for more playful ESL lessons encouraging your students to laugh about something they find difficult. For example, you could teach them a tongue twister using sounds they’re struggling to pronounce and laugh at yourself when you get it wrong. You could also read nonsense poems and try to draw pictures based on them.

La Tomatina

This interesting Spanish festival is a street party mixed with a food fight. It started in 1945 when people watching a parade got into an argument with some other people who didn’t want to take part. This took place near a market stall selling vegetables and the two groups started to throw tomatoes at each other, something local people repeated every year until it became one of Spain’s biggest festivals.

While it’s not practical to plan a food fight during your lesson, you could use this opportunity to talk about the significance of food in different cultures. Maybe your student could plan their perfect meal, or even their own festival.

Because this is a Spanish festival, you could also play Spanish music as a part of your ESL lesson plans. You could use the rhythm of the music to explore the rhythm of the English vocabulary and sentence structures you’re working on with your student.

Here are a few enjoyable activities you can do.

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