New Year's Resolutions - A Truly Helpful EFL Conversation Lesson

New Year's Resolutions - An EFL Conversation Lesson
This article provides some ideas for leading an English conversation lesson around the topic of New Year's Resolutions. Great for pre-intermediate to advanced students, this lesson is a lot of fun around the holidays!
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2018
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Conversation practice is one of the best ways to improve your foreign language skills. Learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) should always be strongly encouraged to form conversation groups and engage in conversations with native English speakers in order to practice their English. Some EFL instructors choose to have conversation lessons as a part or whole of an EFL course. Below is a successful conversation lesson that can be used with learners at the pre-intermediate to advanced levels.
New Year's Resolutions
The holidays can be a crazy time of year for people, whether they are students or working adults. Teachers and language instructors often have a hard time getting their students to focus on learning during this time of year. That's why it's a good idea to use conversation-based EFL lessons around the holidays. Students will appreciate the break from tough grammar and vocabulary work, and they will get a chance to relax and unwind while they practice their speaking skill and talk about the time of year. This lesson surrounds the theme of New Year's resolutions, which can be appropriate for either just before or just after New Year's.
Step 1: Explain the Topic
Teacher and children
The first step is to explain or elicit the phrase "New Year's resolution" and make sure that students understand what a New Year's resolution is. Often, students are not aware that making resolutions is an important tradition in some English speaking countries, so you can give a little cultural background related to the topic.
Step 2: Elicit Typical Resolutions
New year resolutions list
When you are confident that students understand the topic, elicit some resolutions that they think might be very common. Typical answers include "lose weight," "quit smoking," and "study hard." You can add a few more common items to the list, as well.
Step 3: Resolution Language
Student raising hand
Using the resolutions that students generated in the previous step, teach or elicit language for making resolutions. "I will..." and "I promise to..." are strong phrases, while "I'd like to..." and "I'm thinking about..." are weaker and could be called goals or hopes for the coming year, rather than resolutions. Make sure students understand how to use these phrases. For example, "I will..." should be followed by the base form of a verb, whereas "I'm thinking about..." requires a gerund.
Step 4: Making Resolutions
Students discussion
Give students a list of topics to make resolutions about. This list can depend on your particular students' lives and interests. For example, a list for business people might include topics like career, work-life balance, my home, etc. And, of course, English can always be included as one of the topics! Ask students to generate their own resolutions around these topics. They can do this as an individual written activity first, or if they are more advanced, the topics can be used to generate spontaneous discussion.
Discussion Ideas
Discussion on new year
Using students' own resolutions, ask them which resolutions they think will be hardest to keep, and why. This can be used as an entry point into discussing a number of different issues, including why people find it so difficult to do what's right for them, whether it's possible for people to change their personalities, etc. You might want to introduce certain relevant idiomatic expressions at this stage, such as, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," and "Once a _________, always a _________."
Adapting the Lesson
Although this lesson, like most conversation lessons, works the best in a small group of similar ability students, it can also be adapted for use with one-to-one lessons and mixed-level groups. For these situations, you may find it useful to pair the New Year's resolution topic with other topics about the future, such as predictions for the next month, year, and decade. If you are looking for a more grammar-intensive lessons, this is a great way to practice using modals!