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Festivals

A Lot On Your Plate
One in six U.S. parents say their teen has tried a diet that is vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan or paleo at some point in the last two years. “Parents should recognize that this is part of normal adolescent development toward becoming an independent adult; with that in mind, try to avoid seeing the situation as a challenge to parental authority,” a researcher said. (Teenagers, nutrition, diets, celebrations, Thanksgiving, shopping, pair crossword and conditionals.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Chocolate!
Chocolate and um... chocolate. Chocolate festivals and eating chocolate mindfully at Halloween. (Festivals, food)
Upper-Intermediate
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Groundhog Day
Punxsutawney Phil, a famed U.S. groundhog with an even more famous shadow, came out of his burrow on Thursday and predicted a long North American winter. (Groundhog Day, interview with a woodchuck, first conditional.)
Intermediate  Lesson Updated: 13 February 2017
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Santa Networking
"A successful Santa is not just about the costumes and the clothes. You have to have Christmas in your heart. You have to have the love of children and caring and giving in your hear to be a really successful Santa and it's not something you can make up. It has to be in you and people know, they can see it," she said. (Santas, Christmas, may and may have to.)
Intermediate
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Lots of Hot Dogs!
Every year the world hot dog eating competition is held in New York. (World records, hot dogs, food, competitive eating, expressions of quantity.)
Elementary  Lesson Updated: 3 October 2016
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The World's Best Santa
Santas from eight countries like Japan, Sweden, Australia and France competed to find out who was the best Santa. They competed in porridge-eating, sledge racing and other sports. The winner for 2014 is from Japan. (Class vote, discussion, ordering questions, comprehension, true or false.)
Elementary
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Just Don't Go There
If Halloween is supposed to be spooky, some Halloween costumes this year will be terrifying. Some trick-or-treaters will dress as emergency careworkers for people who are sick with Ebola. (Halloween and costumes, Ebola, appropriacy of what people do.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Cost of the Prom
American girls are going to spend less money on the prom this year. Most prom dresses at David's, a store selling prom dresses, cost around $200. Many popular dresses cost $100.(Proms, shopping and beauty, charity organizations, planning a prom date, be going to.)
Elementary
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Easter Bunny?
The Easter Bunny may not always be an Easter icon in Australia and New Zealand, as conservationists remove to replace it with the Bilby or the Kiwi. (Easter, conservation, the rabbit as a pest.)
Pre-Intermediate  Lesson Updated: 15 April 2014
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Easter Egg Surprises
A Fabergé Easter Egg made for Emperor Alexander 111 of Russia and lost for more than 100 years will be displayed in London. The egg was nearly melted for scrap, but an American scrap dealer realized what it was. (Russian Revolution, Fabergé eggs, writing questions, passive voice.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Growing Food for the Needy
Surrounded by rows of kale and collard greens, Bill Shick ticks off statistics about yields and the man-hours it takes to harvest the leafy green vegetables to be given away by the Chester County Food Bank in its efforts to grow food for the needy. The fresh produce program gives low-sodium, low-sugar foods to the poorest Americans year-round.
Advanced
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Dear Santa
One 13-year-old boy who sent a "Dear Santa" letter to the U.S. Post Office this year asked only for covers for his bed, "so I can stay warm this winter." Heartrending letters like this are sent each year to the Post Office "Letters to Santa" program, now in its 100th year. Some of the letters are answered by charitable groups, businesses, schools, postal employees and individual anonymous givers, who pick letters and go shopping. (Santa letters, helping others, Ho!, Ho!, Ho! competition.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Party Bribes
Sometime on Sunday morning, a Pennsylvania high school student will be presented with the keys to a black Honda Civic just for going to a party after the school's annual prom dance. Schools and civic organizations are using extravagant prizes to encourage high school students to attend supervised, alcohol-free events after their annual high school proms to keep them away from wild private parties. (Proms, teenage social behavior, pair crossword.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Old Timers
The world's oldest woman lives in Japan. (Longevity, world records, scanning, making questions, discussion.)
Elementary
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Olympic Opening Ceremony
London's Olympic Stadium will be [turned] into a British meadow complete with fields, cows, ducks, a horse-drawn plough and a game of village cricket for the opening ceremony of this year's summer Games. (Olympic Games, opening ceremony, England.)
Pre-Intermediate
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The Running of the Bulls
Every summer Sergio Colas joins hundreds of other runners for Pamplona's annual bull-run but he cannot hear the roaring crowds or the bulls thundering through the winding streets. Alonso Ceardi has been deaf from birth. A half-tonne bull gored Alonso Ceardi in the chest during the San Fermin festival, but he's still addicted to the thrill of running with bulls. Animal rights activitists want the events stopped. (Festivals, Spain, Mexico, animal rights, conjunctions).
Upper-Intermediate
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Permits Required
In the land where Jesus lived, Christians say their dwindling numbers are turning churches from places of worship into museums. And when Christian pilgrims come from all over the world to visit the places of Christ's birth, death and resurrection, they find them divided by a concrete wall. As a boy growing up in Jerusalem, Yacoub Dahdal saw Christians from all over the Middle East converge on the city at Easter time to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Advanced
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Don't Kiss Santa
"Please don't kiss children or shake their hands." This is what a government website is telling Santa Claus. Santa Claus should try not to kiss children and shake their hands so he does not spread the flu. In Hungary Santa Claus comes on December 6 when children find gifts in shoes which they have put on window sills the night before. (Health and hygiene, H1N1 virus, flu, Santa Claus and festivals.)
Elementary
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Going Shopping
The Christmas rush is showing the problems of internet-only retailers as increasing orders cause delivery delays. Stores fight back. Spaniards will spend more while Germans plan to spend less on Christmas presents this year and will instead open their wallets to charities. (Shopping trends, gift-giving, Internet shopping, choosing a gift.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Wedding Dress Record
A Chinese bride is hoping to enter the record books after getting married in a wedding dress with a train more than 2 km (1.2 miles). (Longest wedding dress in the world, wedding customs, discussion, role play, superlative adjectives, adjective order, romantic poems.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Work Dos
Almost a third of British office workers actively hate the annual office Christmas party, new research has suggested. The poll of 1,000 British office workers suggested that the biggest problem with the office Christmas bash was that it forces them to socialize with people that they have nothing in common with other than work. (Office social functions, brainstorming and problem solving, writing memos.)
Intermediate
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Try wrapping this!
Our annual look at the Neiman Marcus fantasy Christmas catalog. The 90th edition of this legendary book continues the Neiman Marcus tradition of offering its customers a selection of spectacular and unique holiday gifts sure to make even their wildest dreams come true. (Christmas, very expensive gifts, role play, vocabulary work, summarizing.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Wedding Tourists
Alan Chen and his fiancee Chan Mei-ling of Hong Kong are spending almost $3,000 plus travel expenses on a three-day visit to Taiwan for something they could have done at home: get their wedding photos taken. (Weddings, reading for the main idea, choosing the best answer, quantity words.)
Intermediate
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Birthday Hell!
Welcome to the deepest inner circle of parenting hell - the kiddie birthday party. Who knew a simple celebration could generate so much anxiety and overindulgence? Most adults remember when kids' birthdays meant ice cream and a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Today children have come to expect lavish orgies of gifts, gimmicks and goody bags. (Children, parenting, birthday parties, consumerism, brainstorming, planning a birthday party.)
Advanced
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Were you fooled?
This is all about April Fool's Day, with the history of the day, and some examples of strange stories in newspapers... some of which weren't April Fool's Day stories at all: They were true! (Jokes, news stories.)
Advanced
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Gifts to Kill a Romance
Yahoo! Personals has some advice on how to ensure it stays on track by avoiding gifts that can kill the romance. Kristen Sasser, Yahoo! Personals' online dating expert, has put together a list of the top 10 worst gifts for new relationships after asking Web site users for suggestions. (Dating, gift giving, Valentine's Day, brainstorming, working with unfamiliar vocabulary, reading for gist, some/any).
Intermediate
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Fancy Pooch
Super Alsatian? Elvis the poodle? Dog owners are dressing up their dogs for costume parties. (Fancy dress, shopping habits, dogs, will for future facts and deciding something at the moment of speaking.)
Elementary
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Early to Wed
A teacher flew thousands of miles across the Atlantic to Wales to attend his friend's wedding, only to discover he was a year early. (Being early and late, weddings, reading for the main idea, sequencing, writing questions in the present simple and past simple tenses, have to and don't have to.)
Pre-Intermediate
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International Valentines
Chinese Valentine's Day, origins of Valentine's Day, Seven Sisters Festival, different customs in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, true and false, verb patterns with verbs, want and hope) Valentine crossword.
Pre-Intermediate
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Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship
Anyone wanting to throw away their mobile phone can do it in style and may even win a medal - at the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship in Finland. (Unusual events and festivals, mobile phones, playing games, Finland, speed reading, choosing the best answer, completing a summary)
Pre-Intermediate
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Tomatina Festival
Every year thousands of people pelt each other with 100s of tons of ripe tomatoes in the normally quiet Spanish town of Bunol. See you there !!!! (Spain, tomatoes, festivals, third conditional)
Intermediate
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How much is your love?
Love comes at a hefty price in South Korea. There are up to 21 anniversaries, special days and celebrations a year for couples to shower each other with affection and gifts, and as a result some relationships are crushed under the weight of festivities. (Festivals and special days, romance, South Korea, discussion, matching information, comprehension, present simple tense - uses.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Shaking hands between the trenches
The last known surviving allied veteran of the Christmas Truce that saw German and British soldiers shake hands between the trenches in World War One died Monday at 109, his parish priest said...Troops in the trenches swapped cigarettes, uniform buttons and addresses and even played football in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the war. (War, Christmas, peace, friendship, memories, predicting, true, false or not given, comprehension, thinking carefully.)
Intermediate
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Fish Soup And Buffalo Racing
Hungary's fish soup festival and Thailand's annual water-buffalo racing festival help preserve something special. (Hungary, Thailand, festivals, conservation, working with unknown words, completing a table of information, discussion, present simple tense: uses and spelling.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Olympic Mini-Lesson: Olympic Discussions
Get a discussion on the Olympics going with this Intermediate and Above Olympic Mini-Lesson!
Intermediate
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Brrrrrrrr!
Some 300 racers took the plunge in this year's world icepool swimming championship in the Arctic north of Finland. "The feeling is difficult to describe," said Kari Farlin, 45, dressed in a fur hat and swimsuit after racing in water of one degree Celsius. (Bizarre sports, championships and festivals, swimming, Finland, discussion, making questions, multiple choice questions, information exchange game - world championships, sport crossword, suffixes: -er and -or.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Ordering Festivals
This warmer encourages students to think about different festivals and world events.
Pre-Intermediate
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And the winner is...
A record crowd of more than 7,000 betters was expected to attend the 23rd annual Cockroach Races in Brisbane on Australia's national day, with some bringing their own runners and others buying competitors there. (Gambling, festivals, Australia, discussion, understanding text organization, question construction, true, false or not given, error recognition, crossword, questionnaire.)
Upper-Intermediate
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These Music Lovers Are Turkeys
Britain's farming union has released a chill-out album of different sounds to help turkeys keep calm in the understandably stressful run-up to being eaten. (Farming, animals, meat, scanning, true or false, working out unfamiliar words, summarizing, Farm Animal Sounds Game, Completing a Picture game, zero conditional, discussion.)
Intermediate
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Santa School
A school for Santas has opened in Japan, a country with little Christian tradition and a Christmas that is more about shopping than religion. (Santa, finding the main idea, gap fill, true or false, mixed sentences, sequencing, complete the picture.)
Pre-Intermediate
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For a Laugh
The usual swag of April Fool's Day pranks and jokes. Has the world gone mad? No. It was just another April Fool's Day, the international day of tomfoolery when pranks, hoaxes, and practical jokes remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. (April Fool's Day, tricks and hoaxes, listening for specific information, scanning, reading for meaning, information exchange.)
Intermediate
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Shopping Switch
Employers beware: Fruitless weekend shopping trips into stores this shortened holiday shopping season may mean less is getting done back at the office as many workers flock to the Web in search of bargains. (Internet shopping and shopping trends, matching information, gap fill, comprehension, check your understanding, discussion, 'in fact', 'in most cases' and 'for example'.)
Intermediate
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Magic Butterflies
Forget confetti or rice -- guests at chic Australian weddings are casting live butterflies at the newlyweds. (Weddings, traditions, business, writing an advertisement, verb forms.)
Intermediate
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Bah-Humbug!
A British man who went underground behind blast-proof doors and thick concrete to avoid a family Christmas emerged early. Why? Do this lesson to find out and also learn the story of another Scrooge.
Intermediate
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We Do!
Policemen in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh played fathers of the bride when an orphan they raised at their police station got married. (Police, weddings, public safety and rescue workers, different forms of the word "marry".)
Pre-Intermediate
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Mother and Father Christmas
Under European Union sex equality rules, Father Christmas does not need a "Mother Christmas" partner. Also Santas with their own beards earn more money. (letter of complaint, job advertisement, the roles of men and women)
Intermediate
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Turkeys Galore
Each Thanksgiving, Americans eat about 535 million pounds of turkey, and a turkey-cooking hotline gives advice to people with problems a trucker who needed to know how long to cook a turkey on the engine of his truck, and a Kentucky woman who panicked when her tiny chihuahua jumped inside a turkey carcass and couldn't get out. (Thanksgiving, holidays and festivals, synonyms, apostrophes, use of 'although' and 'even though'.)
Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate
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The Paranormal
Mobile phones are killing off ghosts, a British expert says. (Mobile phones, ghosts, the paranormal, writing a story, summarizing , using "would" and "used to".)
Intermediate
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A Standard Christmas
Now you have to be the right shape to be Santa and even a tree!!!(Santa, Christmas trees, jobs, agreements, singular and plural nouns)
Intermediate
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Coffins
A firm of undertakers in Ireland is hiring out hardwood coffins to meet growing demands to cut funeral costs and spare precious timber. (Funerals, death, belief, obituaries, the use of "since".) Please Note: This lesson looks at funeral practices and rites. Please think about your students' cultural backgrounds before choosing this lesson. The lesson also raises questions about death and what happens to people after they die.
Intermediate
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