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Holiday Prep: How to Make Sure Foreign Language Students Don’t Fall Behind Over the Holidays

Learning a foreign language can be exciting for students who are eager to put their newfound skills to use in the classroom. With the holiday break quickly approaching, you may, just like most educators, be worried that the prolonged break will result in loss of information retention for your students. However, the time away from the classroom does not have to mean that your students will fall behind over the holiday break. Here are a few suggestions to help make sure your students continue using their language skills over the holiday break.


1.     Ask students to read or watch something in the foreign language and write a short summary. Students can choose their own titles if they have access to media like this at home, or you can also provide books, TV shows, or movies that they can choose from before the break. As long as the media and assignment are both appropriate for their learning level, it should give the students an opportunity to both consume information in the foreign language and practice their writing skills. You could also request they give an oral summary of the media when they return from the holiday break if you’d prefer they practice their speaking skills instead.

2.     Assign a “Winter Break Journal” report. Ask your students to write a short summary of each day over the break in the foreign language. You can give them vocabulary words or themes to incorporate if there are topics you are working on in the classroom. They can discuss foods they ate, feelings they had, or even describe people or events that they encountered that day. Keeping a journal is a great way to practice over the holidays without taking up too much time.

3.     Send your students on a vocab scavenger hunt. Create flash cards on 3x5 cards and put a new vocabulary word on each of them. Ask students to write the definition on the other side and use the new word in a sentence (in the foreign language) for a quick practice exercise. Use these new words in class once they return and ask the students to share their sentences. The words can even be themed for the holidays and winter season.

Since these activities are mostly self-guided, they are ideal for short breaks like this one. These types of activities are a great way to keep students’ minds sharp, and may also prevent boredom or cabin fever during the potentially cold winter break. If nothing else, parents will be happy to have their children’s minds occupied with something productive, too.