Number one for English language teachers

Webquest: Valentine's Day

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate Type: Worksheet, Teaching notes

This love-themed webquest by Luke Vyner includes activities on the history of Valentine’s Day, celebrations of love around the world, strange facts and amorous quotations. It is free to all onestopenglish users.

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What do you know about the history of Valentine’s Day? Discuss your ideas with a partner.

Activity 1: The history of Valentine’s Day

Work in pairs to discover more about the history of Valentine’s Day.

Student 1 go to www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/16945378  and read the first section, ’Who was St. Valentine?’

Answer the following questions:

  1. What three things do people often send on Valentine’s Day?
  2. What job did St. Valentine do, where did he live and when was he alive?
  3. Why did Emporer Claudius ban marriage?
  4. Why was Valentine sent to prison?

Student 2 go to www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/16945378 and read the second section, ’How did Valentine’s Day start?’

Answer the following questions:

  1. What was the name of the original Roman festival?
  2. In what year was the first Valentine’s Day?
  3. What did boys do as part of the Roman festival?
  4. Who decided to turn this festival into the Valentine’s Day festival?

Who can answer their questions first?

Activity 2: Celebrating love around the world

Although Valentine’s Day is recognized around the world, there are a number of different ways in which it is celebrated and there are unique celebrations of love on other days during the year.

Before we visit the website to find out more, does your country have its own unique day to celebrate love?

Take a look at the facts below. Read the sentences in pairs and try to guess which country they relate to, writing down your answers.

  1. In this country, Valentine’s Day is more commonly referred to as ’Lover’s Day’.
  2. In this country, Valentine’s Day is often called ’Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day’. It is celebrated on 12 June, possibly because the following day is St Anthony’s day. St Anthony is known as the marriage saint.
  3. In this country, they celebrate ’All Hearts’ Day’, which is a celebration started in the 1960s by the flower industry.
  4. In this country, they have their own equivalent of Valentine’s Day and it’s celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Av (which is usually in late August).
  5. In this country, flowers become very expensive on Valentine’s Day.
  6. In this country, Valentine’s Day is known as ’Affection Day’.

Now, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine’s_Day#Celebration_and_status_worldwide and check your answers.

Note: You don’t need to read the whole article as it’s very long. The idea is to skim-read it and try and match the traditions to each country as quickly as you can.

Activity 3: Valentine facts

Visit  http://wilstar.com/holidays/valentn.htm and decide whether the following facts are true (T) or false (F). Correct those that are false.

  1. Children in Norfolk often receive presents from James Valentine.
  2. Many workers ask their partners to marry them in fields in Slovenia.
  3. In Finland and Latin America, friends as well as lovers are celebrated on Valentine’s Day.
  4. Valentine’s Day is promoted mainly by the card and candy industry in Scandinavia.
  5. Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in February in China.
  6. On February 14th, men give women chocolate and on March 14th, women give men candy in South Korea.
  7. In Japan, only chocolate is given on Valentine’s Day.
  8. Valentine’s Day is popular and promoted in many Islamic countries.

Activity 4: Quotations about love

Do you have any quotations about love or lyrics from songs that you would like to share with the class? Why do you think love remains such an important subject in poems, books, plays, films and songs?

Go to http://wilstar.com/holidays/valentn.htm.  Read through the five quotations and decide which one you like the best.

In pairs, discuss why you like it. Using the quotes as inspiration, can you write a poem about love? Perhaps you could send it to someone special for Valentine’s Day!

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