My EFL Ideas For Saint Valentine’s Day


6 jaar 1 week
I hate 14th February as I see hearts, angels, sweets, roses, and all this St Valentine's Day...

 “Love Is In the Air”, “Love Is All Around” or “Love, Sweet Love” – the repertoire of love songs or songs about love seems endless. Any new season brings a new song, usually with a new starlet that disappears once the song has been played long enough on the radio, etc. There are some songs, however,  which are deeply rooted in our memory. They ring a bell, strike a chord with us, listeners. Ok then! Stop for a moment! Turn on the radio and what’s the first song you hear? Is it about love? It is! Wow, what a surprise. Now, think about a film, preferably a melodrama or a romantic comedy: what’s the first film that comes to your mind? “Notting Hill” in my case. What’s yours?

Anyway, as Saint Valentine’s Day is coming (it’s better than ‘looming large’), I thought I’d share some teaching ideas with you. Just two this time – a song and a crossword puzzle. Actually, it’s not just a song but a song with some extra tasks. Actually, it’s not a crossword puzzle but three crossword puzzles in one based on a text on the festival itself.

Let’s start then: level: B1-B2+; time: 90-120 minutes; integrated skills; CLIL (culture and history); grammar: apostrophes in action

  1. Play a trailer from an acclaimed 2014 film entitled “Her” (ref. below). Elicit some ideas from ss on what the film is / might be about. When there are some ss who have seen the film, tell them not to give any spoilers.
  2. Distribute handouts with the lyrics of “The Moon Song” from “Her” (PDF File) . Ss’ task is to fill in the gaps in the lyrics with the missing words. Tell ss the words are contractions, i.e. shortened forms of two words. Give examples for them to recall some or get ss to give you some examples themselves, e.g.: “it’s”; “you’re”.
  3. Play the song and ask ss to fill in the lyrics with the missing contractions (ref. to YouTube below). Elicit the answers and / or display them one by one. Remind ss to always remember the difference between long and contracted forms depending on the register they use. Give them the commonly mistaken pair, namely “it’s” vs. “its”.
  4. Coming back to the lyrics, ss think of films about love and, in groups, come up with a list of five such films. To help ss, you may give them a list of ten films and they might choose the greatest love films of all (PDF File). They may use some of the titles you’ve suggested or may think of their own lists. Groups exchange their lists and the class should eventually arrive at one list of Three Top Love Films. So, a discussion follows.
  5. The contracted forms contain apostrophes. The festival which is coming – Saint Valentine’s Day – contains still another apostrophe. This time the apostrophe is a possessive form. This is an example of the Saxon Genitive. Make sure ss see the difference between the two instances. Draw ss’ attention to , where they find an interesting article about St. Valentine’s Day (ref. below). Having some printouts of the text or displaying the text for everyone to see, give ss about 10-12 minutes to read the text and to give you afterwards two-three sentences about the festival and its ancient origins. Elicit some ideas.
  6. Distribute handouts with a crossword puzzle (PDF File). Ask ss to come up with the missing words by reading the clues and referring to the contents of the text from the Internet. Elicitation follows.
  7. On the basis of the key words from the crossword puzzle, ask ss to reconstruct as many details as possible from the story of the Day. Ss can’t refer to the website now or to the clues given beforehand. Ss reconstruct the story and build it as logically as possible. Tell them to start with some history-related ideas and then to go on to traditions and customs of celebrating the festival nowadays.
  8. On the website  (ref. below), there is also an interesting video material which might be either a lead-in for your class activities or a summary. When you treat it as a lead-in, you may get ss to remember as many words as possible linked to the Day when playing it to them. When, on the other hand, you treat the video material as a round-up activity, you may first of all play it to ss and ask them to tell you some things not mentioned before, in the text. You may re-play it and mute the presentation. Ss do the narrator’s job instead, “having been fed with” a lot of festival-related information.


Happy Valentine’s Day or, to sound much more sweetly, Have Sweet Valentine’s Day! As ironic as I may sound sometimes, I truly believe in the words of Gandhi: “Where there is love, there is life.”


References (DOA: 12.02.2015):



text and video material: