*I wrote this post a year ago, so some things in the world of AI have changed. If you haven’t found ‘the’ idea, try our Five-Minute Activity Generator. Add information relevant to your class and include Christmas in the topic.

It’s that time of the year again. The time to bring Christmas into your teaching and engage your learners with some fun holiday-themed activities. 

I’m currently working on a hybrid course of English for IT professionals so I thought it would be a good idea to update my ‘oldies but goldies’ Christmas-related activities with something that might be a better fit for adult learners. 

Finding free time before Christmas to create some new activities can be a real challenge, especially if you have to finish all your projects before the big day arrives. With all the holiday tasks and errands that need to be completed, gift shopping, and home decorating, that’s the time when you don’t just need a powerful tool, you need a genie in a bottle, granting all wishes for instant language activities. 

I think I have just found a magic lamp with quite a few genies.

OpenAI Playground

An OpenAI playground is a special place where people can try out different AI models and see what they can do. You don’t need special knowledge of how machine learning systems work to play around with these models. For example, you might be able to create an original image with a text prompt (see the image below as an example), or prompt an AI to complete tasks for you, including coding. ChatGPT – a natural language processing (NLP) model – was released last week and it sure feels like a miracle with its ability to understand and generate human language. I haven’t explored all the ways to use it, but based on what I’ve seen and tried, it has a huge potential and may be a BIG time saver for busy teachers.

Source: DALL·E 2 generated image: a busy teacher juggling many tasks before Christmas (Bing)

So, back to Christmas. Here’s an example of how it can be used: 

  1. Ask ChatGPT to generate a few Christmas story prompts for a particular target group (e.g. IT professionals, etc.). 

Initially, it will generate texts for B2 level learners. If you have lower level learners, you can always ask the chatbot to make them simpler or ‘explain so that a child could understand’).

2. Pair up or split your students into small teams and ask them to choose a particular prompt and make a list of 10 phrases/words that they think might be used in the story. Discuss emergent language. Now ask the chatbot to do the same. Go through the list with your learners. Award a point for every correctly guessed word/phrase.

3. Ask learners to turn the prompt into a story. To add more fun, you can structure the writing process as a  writing game such as the Folding Story, where each player writes one line of a story and passes it on to another player to add to it. 

3. Ask your learners to read their stories.  

4. Ask the chatbot to write a story/stories based on the prompts. ‘For an additional wow factor, ask it to use your students’ names’ (Many thanks for the tip @GravellSam!)

Humans vs. AI: Compare human-generated versus AI-generated stories. Go through the AI-generated story and discuss the language used in it. Then, ask your learners to review their stories and make changes if needed. 

Here are a few more examples of Christmas activities for language learners that can be created with AI in no time at all:

  • In small teams, learners prompt DALLE to generate an image and get the other teams to guess the prompt they gave (in the offline world, it’s a version of Draw your Wish or Chinese Whispers on paper);
  • Ask learners to come up with some funny gift ideas and write a list poem. Get the chatbot to generate a Christmas poem using these ideas;
  • Prompt the chatbot to write a letter of recommendation for Santa and make a gap-fill exercise. You can use it to play Mad Libs;
  • Ask the chatbot to act as Santa and interview your learners for the job of Lead Cookie Supervisor (see an awesome collection of prompts here);
  • Make a unique AI Christmas card.

Check the following resources to learn more about other interesting ways to use AI in your class:

Scott Thornbury’s “E” is for E coursebook- 10 years later 

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Happy holidays, everyone!


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