This month, I have written a short story about a Brazilian man who spends Christmas in the UK with his British friend. There are many cultural references that Brazilian learners of English may find interesting. You can use this story in class and it comes with pre and post activities. It is intended for students at B1 level of English (CEFR). I hope you enjoy it! Happy Christmas to all Disal blog readers!
Ask your students to fill in the gaps to complete the words that match the pictures.
|1) CHRISTMAS C _ _ E|
|2) CAN _ _ ES|
|3) CH _ _ R|
|4) CHRISTMAS STO_ KI _ _|
|5) CHRISTMAS P _ _ DING|
|6) CHRISTMAS CR _ C _ ER|
|7) SNO _ M _ _|
|8) CHRISTMAS TIN _ _ L|
ANSWERS: 1) CAKE 2) CANDLES 3) CHOIR 4) STOCKING 5) PUDDING 6) CRACKER 7) SNOWMAN 8) TINSEL
|PEDRO´S WHITE CHRISTMAS
“It´s cold!” said Pedro as he left Heathrow airport with his British friend, Richard.
“It´s freezing, more like it!” Richard replied.
The two young men caught a coach from the busy airport to a town called Chippenham. It was Pedro´s first time in the U.K. and he was very excited as it was the 24th December. Actually, he didn´t know what Christmas would be like in a place so far away from his country, Brazil.
“We´re here!” Richard said excitedly. “This is my home town,” he added.
Pedro woke up after sleeping on the journey and looked out the window. It was 5pm, dark and there was snow on the ground. There were lots of bright Christmas lights outside the shops and hanging across the streets.
Richard and Pedro got out the coach and picked up their luggage. They got on a bus and within 15 minutes they were in Richard´s parents´ kitchen drinking hot tea. Richard´s Mum, Paula, was very hospitable. She had baked a very traditional Christmas cake made of dried fruit and nuts. It tasted very different to the panettone Pedro was used to eating in Brazil at this time of year. Everything looked and felt unfamiliar to Pedro. The rooms were small, it was warm inside the house even though it was snowing outside and he was having difficulty understanding the local dialect.
Suddenly, somebody knocked on the door and Pedro could hear music.
“It´s the brass band playing Christmas carols,” remarked Paula. “Let´s go and see them!”
Outside there were 6 people wearing hats and coats playing instruments such as trumpets and trombones. After their short performance, Paula gave them some coins and they left, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Later, Richard told Pedro that the money was for charity.
At 11.30pm, Jim (Richard´s Dad) called the family to go to the midnight mass at church. They walked down the road and entered a beautiful, old church which was completely full of candles. The mass lasted one hour and a choir sang traditional Christmas carols. It was the most unforgettable experience Pedro had ever had.
The next day was Christmas Day, which is when the British have a special Christmas lunch and open their presents by the Christmas tree. In the morning, Pedro woke up to find a coloured Christmas stocking at the end of his bed and there was also one at the end of Richard´s.
“My Mum still thinks I am 10 years old!” said Richard. “But, it is great to remember the time when I thought that Father Christmas existed!”
They both laughed and opened their presents. There were chocolates, a corkscrew, a penknife, some books and a CD. Pedro thought it was very kind of Richard´s parents to give him some gifts.
After breakfast, the two boys helped prepare the food for lunch. There was turkey, roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots, sausages with bacon wrapped round them and a special sauce for the meat called gravy. For desert, there was Christmas pudding with brandy butter. Richard´s relatives slowly started arriving and at 1pm, eight people all sat around the table in the dining room to eat the feast.
“Let´s pull the Christmas crackers!” shouted Richard´s grandmother.
Pedro was a bit lost, but followed what everyone else was doing. He pulled one end of a cracker and Richard´s sister, Rachel tugged the other end. It went ‘pop’ and some gifts fell out, as well as a paper hat and a joke.
Rachel read out the joke. “How do snowmen get around?” she asked everyone.
“Don´t know!” some replied.
“They ride an icicle!” Rachel giggled.
Now Pedro was really lost. He didn´t mind though. The atmosphere was fun, Richard´s family was very friendly and the food was delicious.
“Time for presents!” shrieked Katie, who was Richard´s six-year old niece.
Everybody sat around the Christmas tree covered in tinsel and Katie handed out the wrapped-up gifts. Pedro was not expecting anything, but he received four presents from various people. He got a London guidebook, some English tea, a box of chocolates and a wooly hat. Luckily, he had brought some presents from Brazil for the family.
There was a huge pile of wrapping paper on the living room floor and Richard´s family members were admiring their presents when suddenly Richard´s grandfather interrupted, “It´s 3pm. Let´s watch the Queen´s speech!”
Somebody turned on the TV and the noisy room became quiet while everybody listened to the Queen giving her Christmas message to the nation. She talked about world affairs and hope for the future. Pedro felt like he was really experiencing a British Christmas now!
In the evening, Katie suggested playing Monopoly and the younger members of the family (as well as Pedro) joined in. By this time, the grandparents were snoring on the sofa!
The next day was Boxing Day and Rachel invited Pedro and Richard to hit the sales. There were many bargains in the shops and Pedro bought some souvenirs and presents to take back to Brazil.
On New Year´s Eve, Richard and Pedro were both dressed in white. They were on Copacabana beach in Rio watching a concert surrounded by thousands of people wearing white clothes. Now it was Richard´s turn to have a cultural experience!
In pairs, find out the answers to these questions. You can google the answers!
1) What is the difference between a coach and a bus?
2) What is a brass band? Find a picture on the internet.
3) Give 2 examples of famous Christmas carols.
4) Name a famous charity.
5) What is the difference between a corkscrew and a penknife? Find pictures on the internet.
6) Are sprouts a vegetable or a fruit? Find a picture on the internet.
7) Tell your partner if you understood the Christmas cracker joke. What is an icicle? What word does it rhyme with?
8) Why is the 26th December called Boxing Day?
1) A coach is a type of vehicle used for conveying passengers on excursions and on long distance journeys between cities. A bus is normally used for short distances within a city and its surroundings.
2) A group of musicians who play brass instruments.
3) Suggestions of Christmas songs: Jingle Bells, Silent Night.
4) Suggestions of famous charities: Salvation Army, OXFAM.
5) A corkscrew is for opening bottles of wine. A penknife is a small folding knife used for camping.
6) Sprouts are a vegetable.
7) An ‘icicle’ is a hanging piece of ice made of dripping water. It rhymes with ‘bicycle’.
8) In the old days, Boxing Day was when servants and tradesmen would traditionally receive gifts known as a “Christmas box” from their masters, employers or customers. Now it is known for Christmas sales.
If you would like to use more short stories with your students, please download my free e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587804.