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ESL New Year's Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan includes New Year's celebrations and traditions for an ESL classroom. Students will write New Year's resolutions, participate in a mock celebration, sample New Year's foods, and summarize what they have learned in a letter.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the reasons behind celebrating the New Year
  • Describe several New Year's traditions


This lesson will take approximately 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases in oral presentations and literary and informational text.


Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • kick the habit
  • quit cold turkey
  • resolution
  • ring in the new year
  • turn over a new leaf
  • watch the ball drop

Lesson and Activity Instructions

Materials needed: video clip of the New Year's Eve ball drop in New York City, stemmed plastic cups, sparkling apple cider, paper plates, plastic forks, greens, cabbage, ham, black-eyed peas

Activate prior knowledge by asking students how they celebrated New Year's in their native country. Search for commonalities among cultures. Create a Venn diagram as a class that compares New Year's traditions in other cultures to United States' traditions.

Ask students:

  • What is a New Year's resolution?

After listening to student responses, clarify meaning and ask them what they think each of the following idioms related to New Year's resolutions might mean:

  • kick the habit
  • quit cold turkey
  • turn over a new leaf

Make sure students have a clear understanding of each of these phrases.

Give students a few minutes to write three New Year's resolutions for the upcoming year. Encourage students to use these sentence stems:

  • I will kick the _____ habit.
  • I will quit _____ cold turkey.
  • I will turn over a new leaf by _____.

Go around the room and have each student share one of their resolutions with the class and explain why they chose it.

Play a video clip of the ball drop in Times Square on a previous New Year. Ask students to write down the parts of the video that stand out to them. Discuss the significance of the following:

  • the countdown
  • the ball dropping
  • the New Year's kiss
  • the champagne toast
  • holiday dress

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