All I want for Christmas is… Now with elementary YL version too!

Mary_Miles_Minter_-_Jan_1921_Film_FunEveryone loves presents.  But what’s the one thing you REALLY want? And can you make a good case for it to Santa Claus? This lesson involves some Christmas vocab, open-cloze, listening to a song, pronunciation and speaking and culminates with giving a convincing speech to Santa Claus about the one thing you really want for Christmas.

It’s a lesson that my colleague, Amy B, and I came up with last year for both teen FCE students and adult FCE students and I plan on using it again this year (with a couple of tweaks I haven’t yet tried).

1) LEAD-IN. What’s the first thing you think of when I say “Christmas”? Why? Tell your partner.

2) VOCAB. Prepare some pictures of presents, a Christmas tree, a Christmas stocking, a fireplace, snow, mistletoe, Father Christmas, reindeer, sleigh bells.  Elicit a few pieces of vocab relating to the pictures and give the students 2 minutes to think of more.  When you get feedback, elicit different names for Father Christmas, including Santa Claus and Saint Nick. and also ask where he lives (North Pole). Also ask what sound bells make (ringing). Drill any words they need to practise.

3) LISTENING 1. Ask the students to close their eyes and open their imaginations. Tell them that they are going to listen to you and you are going to ask them questions. They should imagine the answers but keep silent for now.

Say something like the following, clearly and slowly:

“It’s dark and you’re in bed. You wake up and stretch and think about the day ahead. And then you remember that it’s Christmas Day! How do you feel? Are you excited? Is it just a normal day for you? Who else is in the house? None of them are awake at the moment. You get up, put on your dressing gown and your slippers and go to the sitting room. You see the Christmas tree by the window with its lights shining brightly in the dark. You turn on a light and now you can see the tree more clearly. What kinds of decorations are on the tree? You can see presents under the tree.  Are there a lot?  Do you think they are mostly from you or for you?  You go up to the fireplace where the stockings are hanging.  How many stockings are there?  How do you feel when you see your stocking?  You put your hand on the stocking.  What does it feel like?  How do you feel?  And then you put your hand inside.  You can feel your present from Santa Claus!  You pull it out and see what it is.  Are you pleased?  Is it what you wanted?”

4) SPEAKING 1. When you have finished, ask the students to open their eyes and tell their partners about their experience and especially about their present. During feedback, ask if anyone got something they really wanted and if anyone got something funny/strange/horrible.

Then ask them to tell each other one thing they would like most of all. It doesn’t have to be an object! Their next task is to imagine that they have the chance to ask Santa Claus for it but they have to be very convincing. Ask them how they can express how much they want something and see what they come up with.

5) LISTENING 2 / USE OF ENGLISH. Tell them that Mariah Carey Christmas Fairy is going to help them learn some useful phrases, but first they have to practise a Christmas Open Cloze Gapfill. Divide the class into As and Bs. Give out the gapfill with the even numbered answers filled in to the As and the gapfill with the odd numbered answers filled in to the Bs. The students can predict the missing words before you play the song, and then let the students in pairs of one A and one B correct each other’s answers.

Here’s the Gapfill. I haven’t got the answers, but you can easily get the full lyrics off the internet.   All I want for an open cloze gapfill UPDATE: I just realised I uploaded the old version of the gapfill. Here’s the new one with more and numbered gaps: All I want for an open cloze gapfill

6) FUNCTIONS. Now ask them to look at the lyrics to see how Mariah Carey Christmas Fairy can help them in making a case to Santa Claus.   Ask them to look through the lyrics and pick out phrases they could use.  They should find some or all of the following:

  • All I’m asking for is…
  • I just want + infinitive with to / sth
  • more than you could ever know
  • Make my wish come true!
  • What more can I do/say
  • All I want for Christmas is….
  • I won’t even + verb…
  • I’m just gonna keep on + verb+ing
  • There’s just one thing I need
  • I don’t care about + sth
  • I don’t want a lot
  • sth will make me happy
  • Won’t you please give me…

7) PRONUNCIATION Board them as they come up and drill them for stress and intonation. Here’s where I’d like to use a method for practising intonation/drama from from Simon Pearlman of Active Languages at ACEIA last year. Ask what Mariah Carey Christmas Fairy wants – You!  Then ask the students different ways they could express want using their tone of their voice. Elicit ideas like begging, as if you don’t care, like a spoilt child, assertively, etc and then get the class as a whole to say “All I want for Christmas is you” at you in the different manners.  Ha ha.

8) SPEAKING. Give students time to prepare their presentations. You could say they should be 1 minute long to give them practice of speaking for that long a la part 2 of the speaking exam.

Presentation time! The students listen to each student make their case and score each one for pronunciation, language and how much they really want it.  It might be fun to divide them into groups to do this and then have the winners of each group do a presentation-off.  Give the winner a prize!


  • Students write up their presentation as a letter to Santa.
  • Students discuss questions of consumerism and Christmas. You could write your own or use questions from this Breaking News English lesson or here.

As I said above, we came up with this lesson for B2 level students, but I think it could be adapted for higher and lower level students and I intend to do this for my Elementary students (9-11 year olds) as well as my Proficiency class.


  • Start the class by asking each student (or getting students to ask each other) what they want for Christmas.
  • Elicit some Christmas vocabulary, using pictures to jog their memories. Time students in pairs to come up with more. During feedback put all the vocab on the board.
  • Ask Students to draw a 3×2 grid and choose six words: one for each square. They are going to play Bingo!
  • Play the song video. Students watch and tick off words as they seem them. The first one to get all six shouts Bingo!
  • Then they listen to the first part of the song again and fill in the gapfill. Then they’re going to use this part of the song to write a letter to Santa asking for the thing they want. The powerpoint below has a letter they can copy and fill in the blanks to personalise it.

all i want gapfill and all i want letter to santa

I did this with two classes yesterday and it went well. They’re going to give their letters to Santa next lesson!


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