08 Dec 2012
Updated10 Jan2020

Christmas Carols adapted for children learning English

Christmas Carols for ESL kidsIn the run up to Christmas, putting together and teaching Christmas themed lessons (see our Christmas Lesson Plans) creates a really nice learning experience for our students and is one of the highlights of the teaching calendar.

On problem though, is using traditional Christmas carols in our Christmas lessons.  Almost all contain multiple verses with complex vocabulary which is often antiquated and therefore unused in normal speech.

For example, should we really be trying to teach such gems as:

  • “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin” (We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
  • “Oh, bring us a figgy pudding” (We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
  • “Round yon virgin mother and child” (Silent Night)
  • “Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace” (!) (Silent Night)
  • “Just get a bob-tailed bay, two-forty as his speed, hitch him to an open sleigh and crack! you’ll take the lead!” (!!) (Jingle Bells)


Adapting Christmas carols to suit English lessons

We feel the vocabulary contained within most Christmas carols is far too challenging for young learners and is a waste of lesson time trying to teach.  Wouldn’t it be better to have Christmas carols with useful vocabulary based around the lesson objectives?  Kids sing and learn at the same time, so having Christmas carols with the target language would be a much more useful learning experience.

Therefore, we have adapted and recorded a couple of classic, well-known Christmas carols for use in a children’s ESL lesson.  For our members, you can simply download and play these in your Christmas lessons (sign up here).  For non-member’s, we have added a link the instrumental versions of these songs on YouTube.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Adapted)

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year.

Verse 1:
Santa and Rudolf,
Will fly in their sleigh,
We’ll open our presents,
And have a great day!


Verse 2:
Our Christmas tree’s up,
With decorations,
We’ll eat a roast turkey,
And Christmas pudding.


Verse 1 again


Verse 2 again

(Members can log in to download the full song)

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZWSZyFzZkI


Jingle Bells (Adapted)

Verse 1:
Riding through the snow, Rudolph pulls the sleigh,
Santa sits inside, laughing all the way,
Bells are ringing clear, nose is shining bright,
Rudolf and Santa are coming to your home tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride with Santa in his sleigh.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride with Santa in his sleigh.

Verse 2:
Landing on our roofs, going down chimneys,
Leaving Christmas presents, under Christmas trees,
We’re all fast asleep, as Santa rides about,
In the morning we’ll wake up and “Merry Christmas” shout!


(Members can log in to download the full song)

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujkMx7mmLdM


Silent Night (Adapted)

Verse 1:
Christmas night, Christmas night,
Rudolf’s here with a nose so bright,
Santa’s coming down the chimney,
With presents for my family and me,
We’ll sleep until it’s light,
Sleep until it’s light.

Verse 2:
Christmas day, Christmas day,
Let’s wake up and to everyone say,
“Merry Christmas, has Santa been?,
Are there presents, have you seen?”
Then we’ll play all day,
Then we’ll play all day.

Verse 3:
Christmas dinner, Christmas dinner,
Dishes shine, candles glimmer,
Roast turkey and Christmas pudding,
Party hats, we’re all smiling,
Eat until we’re full,
Eat until we’re full.

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AuSXvutXsE


If you have any Christmas carols that you’ve adapted for kids lessons, please share them in the comments box below!

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