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Halloween Discussion Questions for ESL Students

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn about how to use Halloween discussion questions with their English as a Second Language (ESL) students. A list of sample questions will be included.

Learning About Halloween

Part of adapting to a new culture includes learning about all the traditions and celebrations that make that culture unique. Halloween is celebrated in many countries worldwide, but not all countries celebrate it the same way. For example, in many Spanish-speaking countries, like Mexico, people honor their deceased loved ones on November 1 during a celebration called Día de Los Muertos, or 'Day of the Dead.'

You can introduce the American holiday of Halloween to ESL students by allowing them to engage in discussions about their experiences and beliefs about the tradition. Not only will this help enhance oral speaking and vocabulary skills, but it will increase their cultural knowledge about living in America.

Let's look at some specific discussion questions that you can give to students in pairs or small groups to discuss Halloween customs.

Discussion Questions About Students' Background Knowledge

  • What do you know about the origins of Halloween?
  • Do people celebrate Halloween in your native country? If so, how is it similar to and different from the American holiday? If not, are there any similar holidays or traditions in your home country?
  • When do Americans celebrate Halloween?
  • What colors are associated with Halloween?
  • What symbols are associated with Halloween?
  • What does 'trick or treat' mean? Why do children say this?
  • How do children typically celebrate Halloween?
  • How do adults typically celebrate Halloween?

Discussion Questions About Students' Experiences

  • Have you ever celebrated Halloween before?
  • Will you celebrate Halloween this year? If so, what will you do? If not, why?
  • If you plan to wear a costume this year, what will it be?
  • Have you ever been to a Halloween costume party? What was it like?
  • Have you ever gone trick-or-treating? If so, describe the experience.
  • Have you ever carved a pumpkin? What design did you create?
  • Will your family pass out candy to trick-or-treaters this year?
  • Do you decorate your home to celebrate Halloween? If so, how?
  • Have you ever bobbed for apples?
  • Have you ever eaten candy corn? Did you like it?

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