teaching English Lesson Plan History of Valentine’s day

Teaching English- Lesson Plan: History of Valentine’s day

English Lesson Plan Intermediate B1/B2, Upper- intermediate B2, Video

“We are most alive when we’re in love” – John Updike

It’s Valentine’s day and we’re all thinking about our loved ones. Without a doubt this special day has found its followers all over the world but where and how it all started?

Discover the origins of St Valentines with your students. Follow the lesson plan, watch the video and let students complete reading and listening exercises. Work on improving their writing skills when writing a love letter. It’s a great lesson plan full of new vocabulary and interesting video. Your ESL learners and you will love it.

Language Level: intermediate/ upper-intermediate B1/B2
Learner: teens, adults
Activity: listening, speaking, writing
Time: 50- 60 mins
Topic: History of Valentine’s day
Materials: worksheet + video

1. Lead-in – group discussion (5-7 mins)

Write 14th Feb on the board and ask your students what the date reminds them of.

Later ask these questions:

How often is Valentine’s day celebrated? (answer: annually)

Where is it celebrated? (answer: around the world, but mainly in the USA and Europe)

What do people do on this day? (answers depend on students’ experience)

Are there any negative aspects of the day? (answers depend on students’ experience)

When/ where was the 1st Valentine’s day? (at this stage it’s a rather rhetorical questions, but it’s a great intro to the next part of the lesson)

2. Set context – watch the video and complete exercises (20-30 mins)

Here are the names of people or events closely connected with the origins of this day.

1. Esther Holland         2. A priest           3. Pope             4. Geoffrey Chaucer           5. Pagan fertility festival

Students are going to watch the video and put the names in order as they’re mentioned (Exercise 1– see worksheet). Play the video and check the answers.

Correct order: 2,3,5,4,1

Exercise 2

Ask students to read the information within the table, explain any unknown vocabulary (e.g. pagan, fertility, sacrifice, feasting, mating period). Play the video again.

Students’ task is to match the people or events with other information form the table.

Example 0 : People give each other gifts and flowers on 14th February

0. People

gifts and flowers

14th February

1. A priest

a. official Valentine’s day

I. sacrifice and feasting

2. Pope

b. Roman Gods

II. The Mother of the American Valentine

3. Pagan fertility festival

c the first Valentine’s greeting

III. mating period

4. Geoffrey Chaucer

d. a poem

IV. to honour the priest

5. Esther Holland

e. hand written cards

V. a woman

Answers: 1-c-V, 2-a-IV, 3-b-I, 4-d-III, 5-e-II

Once students have the correct answers they should create sentences e.g:

  1. A priest sent the first Valentine’s greeting to a woman.

  2. Pope made the Valentine’s day official as he wanted to honour the priest.

  3. A pagan fertility festival that honoured Roman Gods was celebrated by sacrifice and feasting.

  4. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem about mating period.

  5. Esther Holland started sending hand written cards and was named ‘The mother of the American Valentine’.

Exercise 3

In this exercise students will read the texts and write missing words in the gap. Depending on the group’s level, you can either provide the words which students will match or students watch the video again and try to pick up the missing word on their own.

The words in bold are the missing ones.

According to a Christian legend, there was a priest, who conducted marriages that were against the orders of the Roman emperor. As a consequence he was executed. However, before that he’d fallen in love a woman whom he’d cured from blindness. The last contact he’d ever made with her was a love letter signed ‘ From your Valentine’. This message is said to be the first ever Valentine’s greeting.

A Christian Pope made the 14th February an official St Valentine’s day in the honour of the priest of the same name.

There was a pagan fertility festival held between 13th and 15th February that honoured Roman Gods and its founders through various rituals such as sacrifice and feasting.

It was not until Middle Ages when the day was associated with romance and love. Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet, presented this aspect in his poem, in which we can find the connection of the beginning of the mating period of birds with love.

In 1800 Valentine’s day started growing in popularity and soon everyone was sending hand written notes to each other. Esther Holland, influenced by the British cards tradition, was the first to design a Valentine’s card, no wonder she was named the Mother of the American Valentine’s.

3. Follow-up – Writing a Love letter (15-25 mins)

The world of love is complicated, on top of that expressing how you feel, especially if you’re non-native speaker, can be troublesome. Help your students realise that showing your feelings is also important when writing. Here’s a step-by-step guide that will be a great guideline for the next part of your English lesson:


Here’s other task you can ask students to do as homework exercise

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English Lesson PlanTeaching English- Lesson Plan: History of Valentine’s day