Reading ESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners

ad for mooncakes on the back of a bus in China

Mooncakes and the Moon Festival

Mooncakes are special pastries. In the middle of a mooncake is a thick filling made from bean paste or lotus seed paste. This filling is covered by a crust made from wheat flour, sugar, oil, and water. Sometimes moonckaes contain whole yolks from duck eggs. The yolks are round and orange and they look like the moon. Mooncakes are traditionally eaten during the Moon Festival in many parts of Asia.

In China the Moon Festival is also called the Mid-autumn Festival. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. At this time there is a full moon in the sky. This is usually in September or early in October. In 2010 the Moon Festival was on the 22nd of September. In 2011 the Moon Festival will be on the 12th of September. It is a popular festival. In some parts of Asia this festival is called the Lantern Festival or the Mooncake Festival. It is time for friends and family to celebrate together.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. The Moon Festival is usually in the spring. Yes or no?

2. Mooncakes sometimes have duck egg yolks in them. Yes or no?

3. The Moon Festival is celebrated in China. Yes or no?

4. In some parts of Asia this festival is called the Lantern Festival. Yes or no?

5. Mooncakes are traditionally eaten during the Moon Festival. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. The Moon Festival is a time for ________________ and friends to celebrate together.

7. Mooncakes have a ______________filling made from bean paste.

8. There is usually a _____________ moon in the sky during the Moon Festival.

9. The _______________ of a mooncake is often made with flour, sugar, oil and water.

10. In 2010 the Moon Festival was on _____________________________.

>> Answers
small, lighted statues of carolers underneath a Christmas tree

photo by sister72, Jackie (flickr)

 

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ is a song. It is an old English Christmas carol. It was probably written in the 16th century, more than 400 years ago. People would go caroling on Christmas Eve. They would sing Christmas carols and in return they might be given food and drink. A figgy pudding is a pudding made with figs and was a traditional Christmas food. The word carol is now used mostly to mean a Christmas song but the word carol comes from a French word, carole, meaning a circle dance. They were popular as dance songs from about 1150 to 1350 (a long time ago!).

These are the lyrics to the song. Some people say good tidings while other people say glad tidings. There are some other variations that you might hear. You can find the song on youtube if you want to hear the music too.

 

 

We wish you a Merry Christmas;

We wish you a Merry Christmas;

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;

Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer

We won't go until we get some;

We won't go until we get some;

We won't go until we get some, so bring some out here

We wish you a Merry Christmas;

We wish you a Merry Christmas;

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' was written less than 400 years ago. Yes or no?

2. A figgy pudding was a Christmas pudding made with figs. Yes or no?

3. Good tidings means the same thing as glad tidings. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

4. Good tidings we bring to you and your ______________.

5. The carolers won't go until they get some ______________________.

6. Carolers would sing ________________ carols. In return they might get food and _________________.

>> Answers
red poinsetta plant

Poinsettias

Poinsettias are native to Mexico but this colourful plant has become part of the Christmas tradition all over North America. The red part of the poinsettia plant are leaves and not flowers. The leaves that have turned red are called bracts. The weeks before Christmas is a busy time for poinsettia sales. More poinsettias are sold in North America in the six weeks before Christmas than all other weeks of the year combined. This year about 65 million potted poinsettias were sold at a cost of more than 250 million dollars in total. More poinsettias are sold than any other kind of potted plant.

Poinsettias are a subtropical plant; they don’t like temperatures that are too cold or too hot. Some poinsettias have red bracts but others have white, pink or orange bracts. The flowers of the poinsettia plant are small and yellow and they are located in the center of each leaf bunch. In subtropical climates poinsettias can grown to 4 metres tall.

Poinsettias are sometimes said to be poisonous but they aren’t. Eating the leaves might make you slightly sick but even a small child would have to eat about 500 leaves before they would be deadly.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Poinsettias are native to Canada. Yes or no?

2. Poinsettias like hot temperatures. Yes or no?

3. Poinsettias are very poisonous. Yes or no?

4. All poinsettias are red. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. The red part of the poinsettia plant are called _______________________.

6. About 65 __________________ poinsettas were sold this year.

7. Poinsettias are the most common potted _________________ sold in North America.

8. Poinsettias are now part of Christmas ___________________ in North America.

9. The _______________ of the poinsettia plant are small and yellow.

>> Answers
design for the year of the rabbit, with Chinese writing, on a mug

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Celebrations start on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar. They end with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of that month. Customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely from region to region in China. Many families will gather for a New Year’s Eve feast that include special foods. Some people give presents to each other. Families clean their houses to sweep away any bad luck. Windows and doors might be decorated with red symbols for happiness, wealth and longevity.

 In 2011 the Chinese New Year begins on the third of February. It will be the end of the Year of the Tiger, and the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. These are two of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. This zodiac consists of a twelve year cycle where each year is named after a different animal such as rat, dragon, dog and pig. Many Chinese believe that the year that you are born in affects your personality. There are many websites on the internet where to you can check to see what year of the Chinese zodiac you were born in.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival. Yes or no?

2. In 2011 Chinese New Year is at the end of February. Yes or no?

3. The Year of the Rabbit ends on 3 Feb 2011. Yes or no?

4. There are twelve years in a cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. Some people decorate their windows and _____________ for Chinese New Year.

6. Special foods might be eaten at ______________ on New Year's Eve.

7. Houses are cleaned to _____________ away bad luck.

8. Decorations include symbols for ______________, wealth and ________________. .

9. February 2011 is the start of the Year of the ___________________.

10. Many people people believe that your __________________ is affected by what year you were born.

>> Answers
The home of wiarton willy.

Wiarton Willy's home, Wiarton Ontario, March 2001

 

 

Groundhog Day

Every Groundhog Day, February 2nd, we find out if winter is almost over. That is the day that the groundhog tells us how long before spring arrives! Groundhogs are small furry animals that live in underground burrows. They hibernate during the winter. They sleep underground in their burrows during the winter. If it is a sunny day on February 2nd, the groundhog will see its shadow and quickly return to its burrow. If this happens, there is another six weeks before spring arrives. If February 2nd is a cloudy day, the groundhog will not see its shadow so it stays above ground for awhile. Spring will be soon!

Wiarton Willy is a famous Canadian groundhog who lives in Wiarton Ontario. The original Wiarton Willy died in 1999 just before Groundhog Day. There is now a statue of him in the town of Wiarton. Two other groundhogs, first Wee Willy and then Wee Willy 2, have taken his place. Will Wee Willy 2 see his shadow this year?

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Groundhogs are small furry animals. Yes or no?

2. The third February is Groundhog Day. Yes or no?

3. Wiarton Willy is a groundhog. Yes or no?

4. Some people believe if a a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day then spring is very soon. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. Groundhogs ________________ all winter.

6. The original Wiarton Willy died in ______________.

7. If it is a cloudy day then the groundhog can not see its ______________________.

8. A sunny Groundhog Day means that _______________ is six _____________ away.

9. Groundhogs live in ________________ that they make underground.

>> Answers
a red heart and a red rose

 

Valentine's Day

Red roses and hearts are two of the most common symbols of love that are popular on Valentine’s day. Valentine’s day, February 14th, is a day for love. Roses have always been many people’s favorite flower. They were known as a symbol of love even before there was a Valentine’s day. There are many different colours of roses but red roses mean love. Giving red roses to someone says "I love you".

Hearts are another symbol of love.  The heart also symbolizes life.  The heart is the center of all feelings and some people think that it is the source of all human emotions.  Sometimes the hearts you see on Valentine's Day cards are pierced with an arrow. The arrow is Cupid’s arrow, or the arrow of love. If you are in love maybe you have been hit by Cupid's arrow!

Gifts of chocolates in red heart shaped boxes are often given on Valentine’s day.  You can also buy candies or balloons in the shape of hearts.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Hearts and red roses are symbols of love. Yes or no?

2. Chocolates in heart shaped boxes are sometimes given as gifts on Valentine's Day. Yes or no?

3. Not many people like roses. Yes or no?

4. All roses are red. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. If you are hit by ______________ arrow then you are in love!

6. For Valentine's Day you can buy ________________ or balloons in the shape of hearts.

7. The heart can symbolize life and it can also symbolize  ______________.

8. Valentine's Day is on _____________________ 14.

9. Roses are _________________ that grow in many different colours.

10. Giving red roses to someone says " _________________".

11. Red roses and hearts are ____________ of love.

>> Answers
jack-o-lantern in the dark

 

 

 

 

Jack-o-lanterns

Cut the top off a pumpkin. With a spoon remove the seeds from inside the pumpkin. Use a sharp knife to carve a face in the side of the pumpkin. It can be a scary face or a silly face or any kind of face you want. Now you have a jack-o-lantern! On Halloween when it is dark outside, put a lighted candle in your carved pumpkin and put it outside. The light inside the pumpkin will make the face on your jack-o-lantern flicker and glow.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Jack-o-lanterns are made from pumpkins. Yes or no?

2. There are seeds inside a pumpkin. Yes or no?

3. You can use a spoon to cut a face on the side of the pumpkin. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

4. On _____________________________ night jack-o-lanterns are put outside.

5. _______________________ candles are put inside jack-o-lanterns.

6. You can carve a face in a pumpkin with a _____________________________.

7. You can use a ___________________ to remove the seeds from inside a ______________________.

8. The light from inside a jack-o-lantern will ____________________ and glow in the dark.

9. Some people carve ________________ faces and some people carve silly faces in their pumpkins.

>> Answers
a couple dressed in silly green wigs for St. Patricks Day

St. Patricks Day, by momentcaptured1, taken from flickr


 

St. Patrick's Day                                   green and black drawing of a shamrockshamrock

March 17th is the day to wear shamrocks and something green. It is St. Patrick's Day, a holiday in Ireland and in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He helped bring Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century. Once St. Patrick's Day was a religious holiday but now it is a day that can be celebrated by anyone. You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day! You can wear green and pretend to be Irish for the day!

Many cities around the world celebrate St. Patrick's Day by having a parade. The city of Montreal has had a parade every year since 1834. A large number of Irish immigrants settled in Montreal. The shamrock is one of the symbols on the Montreal flag. The biggest St. Patrick's Day parade in North America is in New York City. It lasts for about 6 hours.

Remember to wear something green next March 17th!

find Montreal and Newfoundland see map

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. St. Patrick's Day is a holiday in Canada. Yes or no?

2. Many cities have St. Patrick's Day parades. Yes or no?

3. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Canada. Yes or no?

4. Shamrocks and the colour green are popular on St. Patricks Day.


Fill in the Blanks:

5. You don't have to be _______________ to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

6. Montreal is home to a large number of Irish ______________________.

7. The biggest St. Patricks Day parade is in ______________________ City.

8. St. Patrick's Day used to be a _________________ holiday but now it is a day that can be celebrated by anyone.

9. Next St. Patrick's Day you can wear green and ____________ to be Irish too!

10. Watching a parade is one way to ____________________ St. Patrick's Day.

>> Answers

Answers:


Mooncakes and the Moon Festival

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. yes, 5. yes

6. family, 7. thick, 8. full, 9. crust, 10. September 22

Back ^


We Wish You a Merry Christmas

1, no, 2. yes, 3. yes,

4. kin, 5. figgy pudding, 6. Christmas/drink

Back ^


Poinsettias

1. no, 2. no, 3. no, 4. no,

5. bracts, 6. million, 7. plant, 8. traditions, 9. flowers

Back ^


Chinese New Year

1. yes, 2. no, 3. no, 4. yes

5. doors, 6. feasts, 7. sweep, 8. happiness/longevity, 9. rabbit, 10. personality

Back ^


Groundhog Day

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. no

5. hibernate (or sleep), 6. 1999, 7. shadow, 8. spring/weeks, 9. burrows,

Back ^


Valentine's Day

1. yes, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. no

5. Cupid, 6. candy, 7. love, 8. February, 9. flowers, 10. I love you, 11. symbols

Back ^


Jack-o-lanterns

1. yes, 2. yes, 3. no,

4. Halloween, 5. lighted, 6. knife, 7. spoon/pumpkin, 8. flicker, 9. scary

Back ^


St. Patrick's Day

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. yes,

5. Irish, 6. immigrants, 7. New York, 8. religious, 9. pretend, 10. celebrate

Back ^