Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom

For the spookiest season, decorative cobwebs cover the schools, students wear cute costumes, and their dedicated teachers create fun, horror-themed lesson plans. The Vietnam Times spoke to a handful of expat teachers about their favorite memories of a Hanoian Halloween.
Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom
Halloween charms both students and teachers. Photo by Heena Patel.

While Halloween is not a conventional Vietnamese holiday, the younger generation fully embraces the Western tradition. Every year, primary schools and English centers become overrun with tiny, costumed creatures. Vietnamese students and their foreign teachers share in the excitement celebrating the holiday with ghostly games and spine-chillingly good times.

In preparation for All Hallow's Eve, the Vietnam Times spoke to several teachers about their Hanoian Halloween experiences and how they deliver engaging classroom activities, brimming with fun and frights!

Glen MacDonald (USA)

Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom
""Cause this is Thriller!" Photo by Glen MacDonald.

Halloween has always been a special time for me since I arrived in Hanoi. Growing up, I always looked forward to this time of year; when the air gets a little colder, the days get shorter, and ghosts seem to become a bit more lively. Fortunately the same, distinct feeling of Halloween joy is shared by my young students.

During my first few months of teaching, my students and I bonded over the holiday. In the days leading up to Halloween, we would end classes with cute videos of cartoon ghosts or singing witches . In my experience, Vietnamese children love the supernatural. They are delighted to hear stories involving zombies, ghosts, and witches.

So for the actual day itself, I decided to show my students the peak of Halloween culture; Michael Jackson's Thriller. The acclaimed music video is somewhat infamous in my household. My mother told me a story from when she was young and sneakily watched the premiere on MTV in 1982. According to her, the zombie sequence was so scary, she woke my guest with a bloodcurdling scream.

I told this same story to my fourth graders, readying them for the musical horror. However, I suppose Vietnamese students have quite a high tolerance for scary movies because all of them laughed and cheered at the dancing zombies and sinister laughter. It was a little bizarre but also very cute! Since then, I always make a point to show Thiller to my students, having them take part in one of my favorite Halloween traditions.

Elsa Glatre (France)

Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom
Elsa and her student turned yarns, papers, and q-tips.... (Photo courtesy of Elsa Glatre)
Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom
....into creepy crafts. (Photo courtesy of Elsa Glatre)

As a kid, I loved dressing up for Halloween. That is my favorite part of the holiday. My siblings, friends, and I would always coordinate fun costumes. Together, we would "haunt" the streets of Poitiers, my hometown. After a successful night of trick-or-treating, we would return home with pillowcases full of candy.

While the holiday is not that popular in France, I am happy that my students love it so much. It gives us some common ground to discuss topics they enjoy and their enthusiasm makes for such a fun classroom.

At my school, the administration allows us to decorate our classrooms for the season so we usually make some sort of spooky craft. Last year, I had my students make skeletons out of cotton balls, yarn, and construction paper. It was super fun and gave me the opportunity to go over vocabulary for body parts.

Afterwards, we had a small fashion show where my students showed off their adorable costumes. It was so cute and me of my costumes from when I was a kid! Halloween is such a fun day for students and teachers!

Bridget A. (Ireland)

Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom
Spooky skeletons. Photo by Bridget A.

Even though Halloween has its roots in Ireland, I never really got too excited for it. I'm bit of an Eb-BOO-nezer Scrooge in that regard. However, as a kindergarden teacher, I have no choice but to get excited because the wee wains demand it!

Each year we adapt the lessons to include Halloween vocabulary. This allows my students to practice telling scary stories and acting out our favorite Halloween characters. We sometimes do a group costume with our class like 101 Dalmations, Alice in Wonderland, or Witches and Wizards.

On Halloween Day, the kids can visit different classes in their school to go trick-or-treating! They love showing off their costumes and we make sure every student has a way to dress up by making many Halloween masks and crafts in the lead up to Halloween. In the afternoon we have a party where the kids do a Halloween dance or sing a song they have learned. They are cheered on and encouraging by their peers and parents.

My students like Halloween because they get to dress up and be eat candy. Its a fun ESL topic to learn and a break from their normal studies.

Tom Cleverdon (Wales)

Hanoi's Foreign Teachers Bring Halloween Fun into the Classroom
Teacher says "Boo!" Photo by Glen MacDonald

I think Halloween is the best time for children to explore their creativity. There is something about the magic of the season that makes even the shy kids want to get in on the fun. There is such a wholesome energy in the classroom on Halloween.

Vietnamese kids really go absolutely crazy for costumes. Because the students are not in their usual uniforms, I get the chance to truly see the personality of my students. It's a great opportunity for my students to express themselves, be they a witch, monster, superhero, or princess! This year, I thought I would surprise them with my homemade ghost costume. It's such a simple costume but my students got a kick out of it.

We also host a costume contest. I used this experience to review different superlatives and I gave out prizes for "Scariest Costume," "Silliest Costume," or "Most Colorful Costume," things like that. The best part is, the students are so busy having fun they don't even realize they may be learning some new language skills!

As a teacher, I always look forward to celebrating Halloween with my students.

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