Today we are going to Hungary to read about Hungarian traditions and Barbi's lessons ideas!
Have you been nice this year?
The Hungarian tradition
Christmas tree, jingle bells, Santa, they are around throughout December. Here in Hungary the tradition is a bit different thought. It is NOT Santa that brings you presents at Christmas! Santa comes on 6th December, he has smaller gifts in his bag, he has an assistant (Krampusz) who is a kind of devil, and if you’ve been naughty..., well, you’ll be given “virgács”, a bunch of tree branches painted gold instead of chocolate and small presents.
Classroom management and Santa Claus
Well before Santa Claus day parents and teachers--quite controversially--play the “virgács” card when behaviour problems occur. If you are a teacher, from 1st November you are entitled to stop bad behaviour by reminding kids of how Santa is watching. Although I hate all big-brother-like, shame-based approaches to behaviour management and loath to give the responsibility to Santa, to an extent I have to fit in with the cultural environment of my beloved home country.
Here are some of my pre-Christmas lesson snippets, they focus on self-awareness, self-knowledge, empathy, they are a bit own-language heavy though, some of the steps might just work in a monolingual group where the teacher speaks the students’ L1. I have used them with small groups and individuals.
The internet knows whether they are naughty or nice
1. I remind kids of Santa day and explain to them that Santa and his helpers constantly assess their behaviour and put their names on the nice or the naughty list accordingly. I give examples of what behaviour causes them end up on the nice or the naughty list.
Elicit phrases about behaviour: waste time, be late, help mom, bite my sister, etc.
2. I show them the website http://www.claus.com/naughtyornice/index.php
Exploit the picture: ask questions about the things and characters or just explain what is happening to provide input.
3. We enter the site http://www.claus.com/naughtyornice/nn_hmpg2.php and tell them how it works. (It give access to Santa’s report on your behaviour.)
Listening to the explanation
4 We see the report.
Most of the time the level of the report is too high for my young learners, so I explain them that we can always ask Google Translate to help us understand it. I also explain that Google Translate is very good, but its Hungarian is quite poor, so it needs our help. At this moment they are very curious about their report, so they don’t really care about helping anyone :)
You can read out the report with stops. They have to follow the written text and put the mouse to the place in the text where you stopped. (Just a little awareness of spelling-pronunciation.)
5. Help Google Translate.
I copy the report in Google translate and we listen to both the English and the Hungarian side. This might trigger unstoppable laughter, ba warned!
Now they really want to know what exactly Santa says about them. We then “suggest and edit” (by clicking on the bottom right of the box and together correct the Hungarian translation.
This is only to contrast the two languages, which may be useful in the long run, you may show them a little bit about the difference of the underlying logics of the two languages.
6. Evaluating the whole thing
I ask them is they think Santa is right. Most often they think he is, even when there are obvious mistakes in the report :)
Negative sentences: the report says “Every now and then gets a little cranky”--->I don’t get cranky, Santa is wrong!
At this point I always tell them the truth: this website has absolutely nothing to do with either Santa or their behaviour. I explain this is just a website that presents random sentences. Depending on their age and level of intellectual/cognitive development, I also tell them about the phenomenon subjective validation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_validation and make a reference to magazine horoscopes and fortune tellers, just to instill a bit of critical thinking.
Another two lists
I have a larger sheet of paper in my classroom divided into two sides: I’m nice /I’m naughty.
Both sides have behaviour examples, both good and bad. All my small groups use the same sheet, so week by week more and more naughty or nice things appear. I ask my students to say a few examples of their behaviour that count as “nice” in Santa’s standards. They can say these in L1 and I translate them and we write them on the sheet. I also encourage them to enlist some naughty things they do, the criterion here is that these things can be improved. I want to raise awareness to the fact that they are ABLE to control themselves, even when they are tired or hungry or frustrated. Of course I know they are kids, but a little effort can work wonders.
They are really curious about other kids’ strengths and weaknesses, which adds to the excitement.
(This stage often turns into a discussion where they speak Hungarian, they are often not so sure about what counts as naughty and what is nice. This part may help them negotiate their values and make them think about how their behaviour affects others.)
Loads of present simple sentences to use in a meaningful way, picking up relevant vocabulary, personalizing.
Hopefully you have picked up some ideas.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas (hoping you have been nice all year),