Holidays and Celebrations in an AIM Classroom!

November 22, 2016
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Holidays and Celebrations in an AIM Classroom!
By: Wendy Maxwell

The deep learning that students experience when working in-depth with the central theme of the Kit – the play and extended activities – has many benefits. It is the context that ‘anchors’ the program and provides students with structure and predictability and the necessary pleasant repetition needed for acquisition. Threaded throughout this common theme, you should constantly intersperse with spontaneous (or planned) opportunities for taking discussions outside of the play. AIM is all about seizing the moment for teaching what is relevant to students.

Throughout the year, there will be times when important celebrations, events and holidays occur! Be sure to use these as a ways to motivate students, add variety, improve proficiency, learn about culture and associated context-specific words…and you can do this effectively by drawing upon your familiar AIM strategies!

Some suggestions that we have found work well are the following. They are found in the order of complexity, based on student proficiency levels.

  1. Practice counting down to a holiday! Up to ten days before the holiday/event begins, ask by gesturing: “How many days are there before the holiday? What day does the holiday begin/end? How many days does the holiday last? What will students do during the holiday?

A1-A2 proficiency level (Kits Step 1 and up)

  1. Following the AIM philosophy that promotes repetition over time, we recommend that you not spend long periods focusing exclusively on a holiday theme. Touch on holidays in a simple, fun way that repeats over time. You may select one or two songs that students love and that contain holiday vocabulary/describe the holiday or event in some way.

For example:

(a) Sing Happy Birthday every time is a student’s birthday

(b) Find a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, song in the target language and introduce it three weeks before the holiday, making sure that you sing it every few days so that when the holiday arrives, the students sing it loudly and with confidence on that day! Matt Maxwell’s songs, C’est l’Halloween and La St. Valentin are possibly the most well-known French ‘holiday songs’ used in FSL classes! If there is no published song available in the target language for a specific holiday, make one up yourself using the Pared-Down Language and simply ‘sing’ it as a rap to a nice beat, or sing to the tune of a well-known song!

(c) Make a Big Book with the words to a holiday song.

On appropriate pages, wherever new vocabulary appears, be sure to illustrate/find illustrations for new, context-specific words to provide contextual cues.

A1-A2 proficiency level (Kits Step One and Two)

  1. A few days before the holiday, read a story – at an appropriate language level – relating to the holiday theme. Repeat at least once before the holiday and then again on the holiday. Pleasant repetition is key! After reading the book, ask total and partial questions by gesturing. A2+ proficiency level (Kits Step Two and up)
  1. Play a familiar AIM-style game that requires complete thought sentences, containing holiday vocabulary. After students learn/talk about the holiday through any of the above suggested activities, you may play:
  • ‘Questions and Answers’ game
  • ‘Describe the image/Describe the image and draw’ game with holiday characters
  • ‘Complete the sentence and guess’ game

A2+ Proficiency Level (Kits Step Two and up)

  1. As students become more proficient, ask them to read a story on the theme of the holiday/celebration/event in the target language and write a story retelling with a partner. Some AIM books that contain theme/special event-related topics include: Une aventure d’Halloween, En vacances/De vacaciones, L’aventure de Stéphanie, Je n’aime pas les jeux olympiques, Françoise la folle/Leonora la loca, La culture Québécoise

A2/3 + proficiency level (Kits Step Three and up)

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