Ultimate Halloween Primer for English Language Learners
The Ultimate Halloween Primer for English Language Learners

If this October is your first October in the United States, then you need to be prepared for Halloween. While Halloween is celebrated in numerous countries around the world, Halloween is taken very seriously in the US with tons of fun and spooky events for kids and adults. To help you prepare for this American holiday, we’ve put together a primer to explain what to expect, as well as ways for those attending language schools in Washington DC to celebrate.

First, let’s review some basic Halloween history. Halloween has been around for a long time – originating from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The original Samhain festival was meant to ward off ghosts. Today’s Halloween evolved during the 1800s to become a more playful holiday in the US with less warding off of ghosts and more treats.

What to Expect This Halloween in DC

Students who have chosen to study English in Washington DC should know what to expect this October 31st (or Halloween). Halloween is commonly celebrated by decorating pumpkins or carving jack ‘o lanterns. Children (and some adults) dress up in playful or scary costumes. On the evening of Halloween, people trick or treat, which involves wearing a costume and visiting welcoming homes for treats. Halloween is also a popular time to have costume parties in the US. Students should expect to see lots of orange and black colors and spooky decorations.

Halloween Events in DC for Students

Students taking English courses in Washington DC will have plenty of Halloween events they can choose to attend. They range from non-spooky events, like Boo at the Zoo, to adult costume parties and scary events. Check out 10 Frightful & Fun Halloween Events In & Around Washington, DC to choose the Halloween events that are right for you.

Go Trick or Treating

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Halloween is the perfect opportunity to give it a try! Search for the perfect costume, gather up some of your new friends from your English class in DC, and go trick or treating. Make sure you have a bag for candy and treats and practice Halloween courtesy. For example, this means saying “trick or treat” when the door is opened and only visiting homes that are accepting trick or treaters. Typically, this means homes will have lights on.

Attend Halloween Parties (or Throw Your Own)

Halloween parties are very popular in the US. You can pay to attend extravagant Halloween parties thrown in bars and clubs in the DC area or attend more intimate gatherings hosted by people you know. Generally, Halloween parties also require you to wear a costume. Another option is to throw your own Halloween party in the dorms and invite others attending the same Washington language school. Just be sure to stock up on Halloween decorations and food!

Watch Spooky Movies

Another way to get in the mood for Halloween is to watch spooky movies. Since Halloween is a celebration of the spooky and the scary, try to watch some of the most popular scary movies in the US. Check out 27 Classic Halloween Movies to Watch for a Scary Evening In to make your selection. This is also a fun way to practice your English listening skills.

Visit a Haunted House

If you are feeling brave, a fun way to celebrate Halloween in America is to visit a haunted house. Haunted houses are designed to scare visitors and make them scream – and they are very popular in the US. You pay a fee to enter and then bravely try to make it through the haunted house while scary characters try to bring your worst nightmares to life. For some ideas, see Haunted Houses & Halloween Attractions in Washington DC.

Read (or Listen to) Scary Stories

A great way to embrace the holiday and practice your English is to read or listen to scary stories. Visit the library and check out classic scary storybooks, such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Or, listen to audio versions of classics such as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven or The Tell-Tale Heart. Make it even more fun by reading the stories aloud with others.

Play Halloween-Themed Games

Since Halloween should be a playful holiday, it is the ideal time to play some games. Gather your friends from inlingua the Washington language institute to practice your English while playing fun games. For example, try to play Halloween charades where you act out classic Halloween characters or monsters. Take turns building a ghost story by adding one line at a time. Place several Halloween items on a table and then remove them. Ask your friends to try to remember and write down all the Halloween goodies they saw on the table.

Boost Your Halloween Vocabulary

If celebrating Halloween American style is a new experience for you, then make the most of it by boosting your vocabulary. Learn new Halloween terms and add them into your English conversations. Hint – by listening to Halloween stories and watching Halloween movies, you will add to your Halloween vocabulary. Of course, the best way to boost your vocabulary is to enroll in an English language course.

This new vocabulary will be especially helpful when you attend Halloween events. You can also learn some Halloween idioms, such as “skeleton in the closet” or “blind as a bat,” and find opportunities to use them when you are speaking.

Sing Halloween Music

Finally, look for Halloween music playlists on your favorite music streaming service and listen! The more you listen to classic Halloween tunes, the more English words you will learn. Embrace the music. Sing along and dance when the feeling hits. Watch the iconic Thriller music video and learn the moves so you can participate in the group dance at whichever Halloween party you attend.

We hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!

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