“When witches go riding and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween” (author unknown)
Halloween, an American holiday celebrated once a year on October 31, has its roots in ancient Celtic traditions, when humans wore costumes and lit bonfires to guard themselves from ghosts. Nowadays, Western people stopped believing in ghosts, but still keep the tradition alive for entertainment and profit-making purposes, for example by re-enacting activities like trick-or-treating, or carving Jack-o-lanterns – these are hollowed pumpkins with a scary face lit from within by a candle to create a lantern effect. All this is often celebrated within the scope of a party, which sometimes involves quite a bit of preparation and
Besides, parades like the “Village Halloween Parade” in New York City can be watched and spooky adventures like “haunted houses” or “mazes” can be visited during the season of fall for entertainment. Consequently, as with many Christian feasts like Easter, Pentecost (the American English name for the British “Whitsuntide”), or Christmas, old pagan festivals lost the meaning of their original purpose and today rather entail commercial and community-centered aspects. “Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas”.
Due to the fact that all the three of us from Team V of the LGTC are assigned to the American accent, as some of us used to live in the United States, and as we also experienced Halloween ourselves either in the USA or Germany, we decided to collectively hold our lessons on October 31 under this theme.
The celebration at the LGTC
Dressed up as witches, we received our guests in the meeting room in the Electrical Section building, which we prepared in advance by decorating it with orange pumpkin balloons and some snacks for everyone.
Some of the teachers who appeared on time were lucky to personally get frightened by us as two of us were hiding next to stairs. When we reached the large number of twenty-five, we officially started the party by creeping through the room in a “witchy” way to the Halloween song “It’s Halloween night”. The teachers were really amused by our appearance and the performance, so that the majority of them took out their cell phones to take pictures or videos. Afterwards we continued with another scary song “The time warp” of the musical “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, encouraging everyone to join in, to start the party in a fun way, all together.
Prior to our Halloween party, each class (Beginners A + B, Elementary, and Technical English) had prepared a contribution to entertain the others. On the night, we projected lyrics/texts on the wall so everyone was able to participate and join in if they wanted to. For “Beginners A” this meant performing the song “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra full of ardour. “Beginners B” contributed the famous song “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie, which was supported by all the Halloween guests. The fun camp song “Hey, my name is Joe” was the “Elementary” classes’ contribution . They did a great job “pushing the button with their left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot and finally with their tongue”! (sitting on a chair with your legs stretched up in the air can be pretty exhausting after some time…). Because we were not, they were not ashamed to act like children, either. Following this, the teachers of the “Technical English” class performed the nursery rhyme “Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool”, underlining words with matching motions. With each repeat, they dropped a word and used only the motion.
It’s time to play games
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” (George Bernard Shaw)
After the four very enjoyable and amusing renderings, it was time for some group games. We started with a balloon race, for which two groups had to stand in two separate lines to compete against each other. They then had to pass on a balloon without using hands or feet. The team who finished passing on the balloon faster than the other group was rewarded with candy. This game was followed by the TPR game “fruit salad”, which is “a method of teaching a foreign language in which the teacher asks the students to do something in the foreign language, and they must react with a body movement or action”.
Thereby, we used Halloween vocabulary like “witch, ghost, spider” etc., which are often used in Western cultures to symbolize “the uncanny”. As this vocabulary was already introduced in the regular English lessons, we did not need any time to explain the vocabulary again.
The culmination of our little party was the famous so-called “Chicken Dance”, which was so much fun that we played the song back again. Blissfully happy faces and bright eyes – both Germans and Lao.
Our Lao teachers definitely proved that games work at every age – no matter how old you are. “It is never too late for a happy childhood”!
Text by S. Uhlig & A. Kummetz
Photos and videos by J. Adelberg, S. Uhlig & A. Kummetz