Putting you in the Christmas spirit
This week's column is by Online Editor Mike Pilewski.
You don't have to get further than the cover of our December magazine to guess what theme runs through it. Christmas is more than a holiday; it's a season, a spirit and a frame of mind. With the holiday less than a month away, the magazine is full of ideas for ways to prepare for it and celebrate it in English. Here's what we've got for you.
Looking for fun, educational gifts? Joanna Westcombe has 16 ideas for you. In her language feature, Joanna reviews and recommends board games, language tools (including an electronic dictionary and vocabulary cards) and apps. (Download the first two pages here.)
On Spotlight Audio, she and Inez Sharp give their tips for using such products to improve your English, or that of the person you're giving them to.
What do you do with the gifts? You wrap them. In our Vocabulary section, Anna Hochsieder talks about gifts and gift-wrapping. You get an illustrated page of vocabulary and a page of exercises on which to practise it.
Further practise is included on two pages of Spotlight plus. (Download them for free this month.)
Then it's off to parties. Dagmar Taylor's four Everyday English dialogues will give you some ideas for conversations with old and new friends. You can hear two of the dialogues acted out by native speakers on Spotlight Audio.
Naturally, the folks at Peggy's Place, our own London pub, are doing their best to prepare for the holidays. Join them in our monthly dialogue, which you'll find both in the magazine and on the audio.
In our easy-English booklet, Green Light, Donna and Andrew Green visit a Christmas market. (Read and listen to the dialogue for free.) Vanessa Clark tells you what you can write inside a Christmas card, and Dagmar Taylor explains the fun British tradition of Christmas crackers.
Where does the word "Christmas" come from? Will O'Ryan has the answer for you in Perfectionists Only! Find out what English words this loan word replaced, where they came from and how they are still used in some contexts.
Sometimes, what we want for Christmas is not material. In her American Life column, Ginger Kuenzel tells us what she's really wishing for this year. On her list are things like "doctors who are on time" and "an end to the national fascination with the Kardashians". Whatever else you get for Christmas, you will at least get a good laugh from Ginger.
In case you get tired of Christmas, we've also got a couple of wintry topics. Rita Forbes goes to the Rocky Mountains in Canada to enjoy some winter sports (download the first three pages here) — and Mary Simons warms you up in the kitchen with three recipes for classic British cakes. (Premium users can download the full article.)
Recent "Behind the Scenes"