Valentine's Day is approaching and offers teachers with the opportunity to link ESL students' interest in the calendar holiday with vocabulary learning! With this ESL Valentine's Day lesson students will compose love notes to vocabulary words.
We know that when students have a vested interested in a topic and can connect new concepts with ideas that they know and enjoy, more learning takes place.
I have been friends with each of the three English Language Learner (ELL, ESL, ESOL) teachers that have served my district since I began teaching, but I especially enjoy our new ESL specialist, who is passionate and eager for ESL students to comprehend all possible materials. She works with elementary through high school students, and I love that she emphasizes that to reach ESL students—and, let’s be honest, most students—the key is making connections to pop culture and timely events.
Calendar holidays are a great way to engage ESL students in word learning. Here are some calendar holidays that can be celebrated with ESL students and used to learn vocabulary words. Click on the links to access related printable ESL worksheets.
FEBRUARY 18: Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day
FEBRUARY 20: Metropolitan Museum of Art Opened in NYC (1872)
FEBRUARY 28: Pink Day
MARCH: Music in Our Schools Month
MARCH: Pinterest Launched 2010
MARCH 1: Pig Day
MARCH 2: Read Across America Day
MARCH 5–11: Teen Tech Week
MARCH 10: Mario Day
MARCH 11: March Madness Basketball Tournament
MARCH 17: St. Patrick's Day
MARCH 20: First Day of Spring
MARCH 21: Twitter Founded
MARCH 29: Major League Baseball Season Begins
APRIL: Poetry Month
APRIL 9: Name Yourself Day
APRIL 13: Scrabble Day
APRIL 15: Jackie Robinson Day
APRIL 15: Take a Wild Guess Day
APRIL 17: Haiku Poetry Day
APRIL 21: World Fish Migration Day
APRIL 22: Earth Day
APRIL 28: International Tabletop Day (Board Games)
MAY 2: National Teacher Day
MAY 5: Free Comic Book Day
MAY 7–14: National Music Week
MAY 13–19: Transportation Week
MAY 18: International Museum Day
JUNE 18: Go Fishing Day
JUNE 19: Garfield the Cat Day
JUNE 21: Summer Begins
JUNE 26: Canoe Day
JUNE 30: Social Media Day
JULY 16: National Ice Cream Day
AUGUST: Happiness Happens Month
AUGUST 2: Coloring Book Day
SEPTEMBER 12: Video Games Day
SEPTEMBER 22: Autumn Begins
SEPTEMBER 25: Comic Book Day
OCTOBER 1: CD Player Day
OCTOBER 2: World Architecture Day
OCTOBER 2: Name Your Car Day
OCTOBER 9: World Post Day
OCTOBER 16: Dictionary Day
OCTOBER 22: National Color Day
OCTOBER 23: Apple's iPod Unveiled (2006)
OCTOBER 28: Make a Difference Day
NOVEMBER 5: First Automobile Patented (1885)
NOVEMBER 11: Sundae Day
NOVEMBER 18: Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day
NOVEMBER 22: Thanksgiving
DECEMBER: Bingo's Birthday Month
DECEMBER 3: Make a Gift Day
DECEMBER 4: National Dice Day
DECEMBER 4: Game of "Monopoly" Debuted (1935)
DECEBMER 15: Game of Basketball Created (1891)
DECEMBER 19: Look for an Evergreen Day
JANUARY 17: Kid Inventors' Day
JANUARY 24: Compliment Day
JANUARY 25: First Winter Olympics (1924)
JANUARY 29: Puzzle Day
ESL Valentine's Day Lesson
A few years ago I created a Valentine’s Day lesson that tasks students with writing valentines to vocabulary words. Since then, this activity has been used numerous times to engage ESL students in word learning.
Here's how it works...
First, download the template for the ESL Valentine's Day lesson.
Next, instruct students to select 4–6 vocabulary words that they just can't seem to remember, but that they like for some reason.
Then with my Valentines to Vocab heart templates, have students write a valentine to that word, using its definition to help inform their lines. Your students' valentines can be as goofy or sincere as they want– as long as they are learning or reviewing words, it doesn't matter! Share the examples below with students or compose a valentine to a vocabulary word as a class. It is important to model the writing before students start composing their own love notes.
To differentiate the ESL Valentine's Day lesson, you can assign certain students to incorporate extra vocabulary words in their love notes, make their lines rhyme, or use a pun or two!
Finally, I suggest once students have written and decorated to their hearts' content (pun!) you display them somewhere in your classroom (and take pictures of them to share with me on Twitter or Facebook)
Here are examples to share with students:
EXAMPLE 1: SINCERE
EXAMPLE 2: TINTINNABULATION
Linking instruction to ESL students’ pop culture interests and calendar events makes vocabulary learning more fun and meaningful, and allows everyone to learn as much as possible.
The ESL Valentine's Day lesson will encourage students to compose love notes to vocabulary words they have a hard time remembering!
To learn additional vocabulary strategies for ESL students, click here.