EFL classroom activities and resources for Halloween
by Oxford University Press ELT
As Halloween is nearly upon us, teacher trainer Stacey Hughes has been busy creating a collection of ghostly classroom activities for you to use with your class.
It seems that everyone likes a scary story. As autumn days grow shorter and darker, forcing us indoors, this is the perfect time to tell ghost stories.
Ghost stories and tales of the supernatural have been around for centuries and are a feature of nearly every culture. Though many people may not believe in ghosts today, stories about haunted castles, enchanted ruins and spooky spectres are still very popular.
Why do we like to be scared so much? One theory is that frightening stories cause a release of adrenaline which makes us feel a ‘rush’. Adrenaline is the same hormone that is released in a fight or flight situation, and, because there is no real danger, we enjoy this ‘thrill’. So we tell ghost stories around the campfire, go to frightening movies, read chilling novels – all in search of a spine-tingling sensation.
As Halloween approaches…
Why not use this opportunity to incorporate some ghostly language and tasks into your lessons? We have put together a variety of activities that can be used at various levels and with different age groups. We start off with our intermediate instructions and activities, including:
Ghoulish Word Forms
Shadowy Web Quest
Write your own Ghost Story!
How to use these resources with your class, whether in the classroom or remotely.
The below instructions correspond to the activities listed in the Halloween activity pack above. You can use these ideas to structure your lessons.
1. Introduce the topic of Halloween and find out what students know about it by asking them to respond in the chatbox or turn on their microphones one at a time. Put them into breakout rooms to brainstorm 10 words related to the topic of Halloween. Feed back in plenary.
Ask students why they think stories about ghosts and other scary stories are so popular. Put students back into breakout rooms to discuss, then feed back in plenary.
Choose one or more of the vocabulary activities from the handout to send to the students (via email or uploaded into a shared document folder – Google Classroom, MS Teams, OneDrive, etc). Ask them to use a dictionary to look up the words and complete the exercises. In the next videoconferencing lesson, check answers and follow up with one of the reading or writing activities in the handout.
Record a video to introduce the topic of Halloween, using pictures and introducing related vocabulary. Look directly at the camera as if you are speaking to the students to increase engagement. Give tasks and invite students to pause the video to complete them; for example: Pause the video for 30 seconds and write down all the words you can think of that are related to Halloween. Introduce words in the video, and ask students to post their words in a class forum.
2. Read a Ghost Story Show the cover of a graded reader that is the right level for your students. (see suggestions below). Follow the suggestions in the handout for reading a ghost story. Use breakout rooms or the chat box for student responses. If the story is a long one, do this over several lessons, or ask students to read a chapter or two before the next lesson for discussion. Pair students up and ask them to collaborate (e.g. via Teams, Google Classroom, WhatsApp, or other social channels) to write and record a dialogue between two main characters in the story. Students can then write a news article individually, and ‘publish’ to a class forum (e.g. on Google Classroom, Padlet, etc.)
Here are some readers we suggest you use for this activity, for more ideas check out our catalogue.
The Real McCoy and Other Ghost Stories
V is for Vampire
The Turn of the Screw
The Pit and the Pendulum and Other Stories
3. Write a Ghost Story
Use one of the Cloze activities as pre-work for the writing activity and follow suggestions for laying the foundations from the handout. Students can start to plan in small breakout groups either in a zoom lesson or a forum or ask them to collaborate in a WhatsApp call to brainstorm ideas for the setting, characters, the scene, and action. Students write the story on their own. For peer review of their first draft give instructions in a video or live videoconference – ask them to comment on the setting, characters, scene, action and climax. Ask students to illustrate and publish their finished stories in a class forum or other shared online space (e.g. Padlet). Some students might like to read their stories or create a video.
Prepare students for the topic on ghosts and introduce them to the idea of a Webquest. A Webquest is an online search to find out information, and you can set one up on webquest.org. Alternatively, send the handout to students. Put them into groups of 3-4. Each person in the group can research different questions within the webquest and feed into a shared document (e.g. on Google Drive, OneDrive or MS Teams), or upload answers into a shared forum or space such as Padlet. After the webquest, use a videoconferencing platform to hold an online discussion about the information they discovered and their reactions to it: Would you stay in a haunted house? Do you believe in ghosts? Why do people like to go on ghost walks?