8 things you can do to help you Learn English in Dublin over Christmas

The Christmas break is almost upon us and we are looking forward to a few days of fun, love, food and presents. While we hope everyone enjoys the time off, we urge our students to keep practising English and use any opportunity given to you to speak, listen, read and write the language you came to City Language School to learn. There are lots of opportunities to learn English in Dublin at Christmas. With that in mind, teachers and staff at City Language School sat down and came up with a few ideas to help you.

National Gallery Tour – Listening

The National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square is a great place to spend some free time. There are masterpieces by international artists like Picasso, Miró and Caravaggio as well as Irish artists such as Jack B. Yeats and William Orpen. We suggest you go on one of their free tours and use it as a listening exercise. Tours usually go twice daily but please check as opening hours can vary.

Before you go: Learn Vocabulary connected to art and artists

Some key words and phrases: portrait, landscape, perspective, canvas, frame, oils, composition, technique, abstract, subject matter, style, still life

Gallery visitors listening to a guide explaining this still life by Pablo Picasso


Conversation Salons First Fortnight *Higher Levels only* – Speaking

Every year in Dublin the First Fortnight festival holds events across the city to draw attention to mental health. As part of the festival, the organisers hold conversation salons as a way of encouraging people to talk. This is great for practising your speaking. The format is simple. You meet people you have never met before at an appointed venue and you talk to them about anything that’s on a menu of topics. Topics range from the meaning of life to the existence of God and it’s great.

Before you go: Learn the phrases you need for giving your opinion and for being polite.

Some key words and phrases: I think…, In my opinion that’s…, Really? That’s amazing…, Can I just say, I think…, I don’t know but I think…



Buy yourself an English Language gift for Christmas – Grammar

Instead of getting a red stocking for your door, why not buy yourself book on English Grammar or Phrasal Verbs? If you want to buy a Grammar book we’d probably recommend Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in Use. It’s great for self study.

Before you buy: Think about what areas of English you need to improve on – prepositions, grammar, phrasal verbs etc. If you’re not sure, ask your teacher.

Some key words and phrases (if you are going to buy it in a shop): Could you tell me where the English Language section is please? Could you look up a book for me please? Do you have Raymond Murphy\’s English Grammar in Use by any chance?


Christmas Carols – Speaking & Reading

Get a group of friends together find a church and jon in singing some Christmas Carols. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words, most places will give you paper with the words on them. This is a great way of practising your reading while singing skills and is a fun way to boost your confidence. It makes you feel part of an English Language experience and adds to list of experiences in another language.

Before you go: Find your best Christmas Jumper and get into the spirit of Christmas.

Some key words and phrases: Ding-dong, jingle, dashing, slay, slay-bells, Oh! what fun


Go out as much as you can (*before Christmas) – Speaking & Listening

Ok here’s a tip; if you want to meet Irish people and speak English, don’t go to Temple Bar. In town pubs off Grafton Street and music venues on Camden Street are going to be great fun over Christmas. In suburbs like Drumcondra, Ranelagh, Rathmines, Raheny, Clontarf and/or Portobello you are going to meet lots of happy and chatty Irish people in the build up to Christmas.

*The day after Christmas, St. Stephen’s Day is very very quiet in the city centre. If you can, plan something to do for that day outside of the capital.

Before you go: Learn key phrases for the first part of conversations

Key words and phrases: What do you do? What part of Italy are you from? Do you want a pint? Are these your friends? How long have you been here? How long are you staying for? What do you think of Dublin? What part of Dublin do you live in? What’s Rio Grande do Sul like?

Enjoy a few pints with friends but make sure you speak English


Keep a Christmas Diary or Write to Santa – Writing

We don’t expect many to do this but it is a nice idea. Keep a diary of everything you did over the Christmas and make sure you use the past simple when you are writing it. When you come back, hand it to your teacher and will have a look over it for errors and vocabulary.

You could also write a letter to Santa telling him what you would like for Christmas and why. Invent something. Don’t just ask for an X-box. And ‘send’ it to your teacher.

Before you write (diary): Learn the past simple and make sure you know the irregular forms.

Before you write (letter): Learn ‘would’ & ‘2nd conditional’ – I would like world peace, If there was world peace, we would all be happy.


Help out

There are lots of charities looking for volunteers around this time of the year and if you have the time they really appreciate it. It is also a great way of testing your English in a pressurised situation. Check out opportunities here.

Before you volunteer: Make sure you can commit.

Key words and phrases: Are you OK? Can I help you? 


Watch Christmas movies in English

You have probably seen them before in your own language but why not watch them again in English? Movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz and The Santa Clause are classics but the king of the Christmas movies has to be Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykrod.

Before you watch: Make some mulled wine, put the mince pies in the oven, make a turkey sandwich and relax.

Some key words and phrases: Santa, elves (not Elvis), reindeer, Rudolph, snow, cold, scarf, hat, slip, slide, slay, sled.