I’ve Found My Pot of Gold

March is here! It’s time to start thinking about how to bring St. Patrick’s Day into our schools and classes. Needless to mention how important this date is when we talk about cultural aspects of the English language. After all, many English-speaking countries celebrate it. Therefore, many schools and teachers in Brazil – and in other parts of the world – try to immerse their students in a St. Paddy’s experience. Well, at least they should…

I told a fellow teacher I had been writing this post and she shared a surprising story. She once had a student who traveled to Ireland, and this student arrived there on March 17. It turns out the student didn’t know about St. Patrick’s Day and when they returned to Brazil, they expressed certain discontent with the course and the school for not preparing her for that. I can totally understand how shocking it must have been for the student! Can you imagine arriving in Dublin unaware of fact that the streets are taken with crowds and you can’t really move around the city?

If you or the school you work for have been in the habit of celebrating this date with students in the past years, then you may be running out of ideas. So, if you have done every imaginable thing with your students, I have good news. The “pot of gold” is much easier to find than you’d ever imagined! In fact, we’re in it right now. The Internet!

The amount of activities that have been made available online is huge. The number of resources is uncountable. You can find activities of all kinds and for all ages and levels. By typing “St. Patrick’s Day Activities ESL” on our dear old friend Google you’ll get over 8 million results, and in the very first page you’ll find DIY crafts, listening and reading materials, videos, vocabulary worksheets, among other things.

It is interesting to think that all this content is available online because teaching about celebrations is a widely spread practice. So much so that such materials are made available by teachers and for teachers every day, and more often than not, they’re free. This only makes me realize how the ELT community tends to be helpful, caring and committed when it comes to reaching out a helping hand for fellow educators.

From my own experience, students enjoy learning about St. Patrick and how this date is celebrated around the world. Even though these activities are more commonly carried out with young learners and teens, I can totally picture (and have already used) these activities with adult learners. And judging by the story mentioned in the second paragraph, needless to say that these activities have their importance in our classes.

Having this in mind, I encourage you to explore this patron saint’s story and introduce it to your learners. It’s vital to remember that learning a language also involves learning about culture.

Feel free to comment or write to me at contato@henriquezamboni.com.br and keep the discussion going.

Henrique Zamboni has been in ELT for more than 10 years, having worked for different language schools. He holds the CPE and the CELTA, a degree in Letras and a degree in Marketing. He is the founder of Inglês Para Adolescentes, where he is a teacher of teenagers and teacher trainer.

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