The First Christmas


It never snows at Christmas in that dry and dusty land.

Instead of freezing blizzards, there are palms and drifting sands,

And years ago a stable and a most unusual star

And three wise men who followed it, by camel, not by car,

While, sleepy on the quiet hills, a shepherd gave a cry.

He’d seen a crowd of angels in the silent starlit sky.

In the stable, ox and ass stood very still and calm

And gazed upon the baby, safe and snug in Mary’s arms.

And Joseph, lost in shadows, face lit by an oil lamp’s glow

Stood wondering, that first Christmas Day, two thousand years ago

By Marian Swinger

Merry Christmas to you !! 🎄🎅🏼

Halloween Tradition

October 31 is Halloween and is now celebrated in many countries around the world, but do you know anything about the origins of this scary special day? Read the article and find out.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

The origins of Halloween

If you think of Halloween, you probably think of scary carved pumpkins, all kinds of fancy dress and children asking for sweets. And if you think of a country that celebrates Halloween, you probably think of the United States first. Americans and Canadians have adopted Halloween in a big way, but Halloween traditions actually come from 16th-century Ireland, Scotland and England.

The tradition of Halloween on 31 October comes from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was the Celtic New Year and they celebrated it on 1 November because that was the end of summer and harvest time (life) and the beginning of winter (death). It was also the time for ghosts to return to earth for a day. People lit a big fire, wore special clothes made of animal skin and hoped to be safe from the ghosts and the winter. In AD 609, the Catholic Church put the Christian celebration of All Saints Day on 1 November. In AD 1000, the church added All Souls Day on 2 November, and All Hallows Eve – or Halloween – moved to the night of the 31st.

Pumpkins

The Celts carved faces into vegetables like turnips, potatoes and squash (a pumpkin is a kind of squash) to scare the ghosts and other spirits and make them go away. It was sometimes called a jack-o’-lantern because of an Irish story about a man, Jack. He played a trick on the devil and then had to walk the earth for all time as a punishment. Irish people who came to live in the United States in the 1800s found pumpkins much easier to carve, and the tradition became the one we see today.   

Fancy dress

The Celts were afraid of the ghosts that came on Samhain. If they went outside after dark, they covered their faces with masks. They hoped any ghosts they met would think they were ghosts too and would leave them alone. In early America, the Native Americans and the first Europeans celebrated the end of the harvest, but not Halloween. When Irish people arrived, the harvest festival started to look more like Halloween and it became popular across the country. In the late 19th century, people tried to make Halloween less about ghosts and religion and more about celebrating the season with a party for neighbours and family. That’s why Americans today wear all kinds of Halloween costumes and not just scary things like witches and ghosts like in other countries.

Trick or treat

This is another tradition that began in Europe, this time in England. When the church introduced All Souls Day, rich people gave poor people ‘soul cakes’, a small cake made with spices and raisins. It replaced the Celtic tradition of leaving food outside houses for the ghosts. ‘Going a-souling’ was popular in England for hundreds of years until about the 1930s. The Americans kept the tradition, but today children knock on people’s doors and ask for sweets. Going trick or treating is so popular that a quarter of the sweets for the year in the United States are sold for this one day.

The rest of the world

Halloween has become the United States’ second-biggest commercial festival after Christmas. Halloween is also celebrated in other countries, but it’s not as big as in the United States, even in the countries where the traditions began. Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead from 31 October to 2 November and some of its traditions, like giving gifts of sugar skulls, are starting to mix with Halloween. In this way, the celebration of Halloween continues to change as new traditions join the oldest of the Celtic ones.

Source: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/magazine-zone/halloween?utm_campaign=English%20-%20All%20-%20Learn%20English%20-%20Global%20-%20Newsletter&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=65028413&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_1pI0V4YEwbZiG_SjXU9O3K3V7pGUKVr6_gN2xOx-iZ7YHWdzZtU_fbDzslzNBVvU1rHv1zEqXPZuyrRYCrCu4NG6NJw&utm_content=65028413&utm_source=hs_email

New Year’s celebration around the world

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/magazine-zone/new-year-celebrations?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=english-adults-leweb-global-global-2022-01-le-newsletter

New year, old celebrations

There have been celebrations to mark the beginning of a new year for thousands of years. Sometimes these were simply an opportunity for people to eat, drink and have fun, but in some places the festivities were connected to the land or astronomical events. For example, in Egypt the beginning of the year coincided with when the River Nile flooded, and this normally happened when the star Sirius rose. The Persians and Phoenicians started their new year at the spring equinox (this is around 20 March when the Sun shines more or less directly on the equator and the length of the night and the day are almost the same).

The oldest celebration

The city of Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia was where the first New Year’s celebrations were recorded about 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians held their celebrations on the first new moon after the spring equinox and called this festival Akitu (which comes from the word the Sumerians used for barley). Barley was cut in Mesopotamia in the spring, and during Akitu there was a different ritual on each of the 11 days that the celebration lasted. Statues of the gods were carried through the streets of the city, and in this way the Babylonians believed that their world had been cleaned to prepare for the new year and a new spring.

Modern celebrations

In many cities all over the world, spectacular fireworks displays take place as soon as the clock passes midnight on 31 December. In recent years, Sydney in Australia has been the host to one of the first of these celebrations as New Year arrives there before most other major international cities. The display takes place in Sydney Harbour, with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge making it a stunning setting. Fireworks light up the skies in hundreds of cities as 12 midnight strikes around the globe.

Traditions that live on

There are a number of strange and interesting New Year’s traditions around the world. In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay and ‘first footing’ remains a popular custom with people visiting friends’ and neighbours’ houses just after midnight. The first person who visits your house should bring a gift as this will mean good luck. In Spain, it is the custom to eat 12 grapes as the bells sound for midnight on 31 December. One grape is eaten at each sound of the bell and each grape is supposed to bring good luck for each month of the year ahead. In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and some other Central and South American countries, people wear special underwear of different colours on New Year’s Eve. Red is supposed to be good for bringing love in the new year, while yellow is supposed to bring money.

Out with the old, in with the new

The new year is a perfect time to make a change for the better. The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions is more common in the western hemisphere but also exists in the eastern hemisphere. This tradition involves a person making a commitment to change an unwanted habit or behaviour or setting a personal objective. Typical New Year’s resolutions might be to give up smoking, eat healthier food, do more exercise, become more organised or laugh more – but really, a New Year’s resolution can be almost anything. However, research suggests that many New Year’s resolutions fail. Being realistic about the objectives you set and not making too many New Year’s resolutions might help you to achieve success

Teaching Techniques

Here follow some ideas to help ELT teachers to improve their teaching skills

  1. Asking questions
    Asking targeted questions can help learners to pinpoint meaning. It’s often a good idea to start with closed questions, which offer a choice, before moving onto more open questions. For example, if you want to check the meaning of ‘I lived in Delhi’ you could ask:
    * Am I talking about the past, the present or the future? (the past) closed question * Do I live in Delhi now? (no) closed question * Tell me about a place where you lived before open question Remember that asking ‘What does this word mean?’ can be tricky for lower level learners. Think about how you would answer before asking this! Also, if you ask ‘Do you understand?’ it is easy for learners to answer ‘Yes!’, but you won’t really know unless you check properly. Some learners are reluctant to say when they don’t understand something.
  2. Asking learners to demonstrate
    Examples: ‘How do you look when you feel interested?’, ‘Point to something which is heavy’, ‘Show me what you do when you yawn’. Of course, this doesn’t work for everything. You could ask individuals or the whole class to demonstrate.
  3. Testing knowledge
    Giving learners an exercise to complete is one way of seeing how much they understand. There are lots of options: examples include a matching activity, wordsearch, crossword, writing words for definitions/writing definitions for words. Multiple choice activities probably need to be followed by another way of checking too, as learners may have just guessed! Learners need to be reassured that if they don’t know the answers, it’s OK!
  4. Using images
    Displaying an image and asking questions can be a good way to check understanding. For example, you could show a picture of a man in prison and ask ‘What has he done?’, to check the present perfect structure. Or simply show a picture of a word you want to check, like ‘ski resort’. You could ask younger learners to draw the item you want to check.
  5. Using translation
    You could ask learners for a translation, or give a translation and ask for the English word. Of course, not all words or phrases directly translate between languages, so this technique can be problematic. It can be useful for abstract concepts

Source: © British Council

If Clauses – 0,1,2,3

Conditionals

Conditionals are complex sentences which use the subordinator if.

There are four main types of conditionals and they differ depending on the time (past, present or future) and on how likely the event or state is.

Look at the following examples. What is the structure of each type? What type of event does each type discuss?

Zero conditional

If a student fails the course, they do not progress to the next level.

First conditional

If the book is returned late, you will receive a fine.

Second conditional

If I had more time, I would edit my essay again.

Third conditional

If the student hadn’t handed the essay in late, he wouldn’t have failed.

How did you go? Let’s see how can you make each type of conditional.

Note: The if clause can be the first clause in the sentence or the second clause.

Examples:

1 – The speaker stated that if she solve one environmental problem it would be global warming.

2 – The speaker claimed that if the changes been made, the number of people failing the course would have increased.

3 – If you require an extension, you should speak to your lecturer.

4 – If your grades do not improve, you will have to get a tutor.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/