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Learn English with ‘A Christmas Carol’

Christmas would not be Christmas without a story to warm our hearts. With this post, I’ll help you to learn English with ‘A Christmas Carol’. What can you learn from this book? Here is what I’ll be looking at in my post:

  1. When was ‘A Christmas Carol’ written?
  2. What is ‘A Christmas Carol’ about?
  3. Who are the main characters
  4. What are the main themes?
  5. Learn English with ‘A Christmas Carol’

When was ‘A Christmas Carol’ written?

‘A Christmas Carol’ was written by Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s most famous authors of the 19th century. He wrote it in December 1843. By Christmas Eve that year, the book had sold over 6000 copies.

What is ‘A Christmas Carol’ about?

The book follows the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge, who is an old man. Furthermore, he’s also very lonely and hates Christmas. One Christmas Eve three ghosts haunt him. They tell him to change his ways, before it is too late. As he wakes on Christmas Day, Ebeneezer Scrooge realises that he has been a bad person and decides to change his way of life. With this in mind, Scrooge decides to make things good with his employees and family.

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Who are the main characters?

In the book, a lot of characters come and go. However, here are the main characters you need to concentrate on when you read this book:

  • Ebenezer Scrooge. He is the main character. As mentioned above, the main story revolves around him and his life. Scrooge is very rich as he owns his company. He is a very cold-hearted man. The word ‘Scrooge’ means someone who spends as little money as possible and is also not generous.
  • Fred. Fred is the nephew of Scrooge. He tries to convince Scrooge that Christmas is a good thing. Furthermore, he is always cheerful and never upset. This is despite Scrooge’s negative attitude to Christmas.
  • Bob Cratchit. He is Scrooge’s clerk. He is exactly the opposite of Scrooge. Cratchit is a well-mannered man, but also very poor.
  • Tiny Tim. Tim is Cratchit’s son. His character is used by Dickens as a symbol of the poor people living in towns and cities all over England in the 19th century. He has been crippled since birth.
  • Jacob Marley. He died seven years before the story starts. Marley was the co-owner of the company with Scrooge and is just as cold-hearted. Marley’s ghost haunts Scrooge on that Christmas Eve.
  • Ghosts. There are three other ghosts, who come to visit Scrooge. They are the Ghost of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas to come. They want to show Scrooge what happened to him and what he needs to do to become a better person.

What are the main themes of the book?

Greed

One of the main themes that we can see in this book is greed. We always see Scrooge trying to make as much money as possible, without regard for those who work for him. There is a glint of greed in his eye, which makes Scrooge someone unlikeable.

Social injustice

In 19th century Britain, there was a lot of social injustice. Dickens wanted to show to people, that the poorest people in Britain were treated really badly. Scrooge says, ‘if they would rather die, they had better do it and decrease the surplus population’. Firstly, we see Scrooge’s greed that he thinks poor people are worthless. Additionally, we also see how rich people treated the poor – with contempt and they should blame themselves for their situation. The final ghost: Ghost of Christmas Future, shows how thieves divide up his belongings after his death. No one really cares about his death. Dickens implies that people are almost celebrating it.

Forgiveness

Fred, Scrooge’s nephew and Bob Cratchit are two characters with a lot of compassion. They don’t blame Scrooge for his ill ways. In actual fact, they believes that Scrooge can be forgiven for his poor manners. This is because Scrooge has, after all, got the most to lose – his wealth.

Redemption

Finally, the last theme of the story is redemption. At the beginning of the story, Scrooge constantly says, ‘Bah, humbug’, whenever anyone mentions Christmas to him. Nevertheless, after the final ghost leaves, Scrooge is a different person. So happy is he, that he treats the characters Bob Cratchit and Fred, with more compassion. Instead of his family turning him away, he is welcomed with open arms.

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Learn English with ‘A Christmas Carol’

So, you’re probably thinking, what you could possibly learn with this book. Well, apart from the different themes, as an English learner, there are many things you can learn. Here they are.

Scrooge

The main character is Scrooge. The word scrooge means someone who spends as little money as possible and is not very generous. We see throughout the book as Scrooge always says, ‘Bah, humbug’ when someone talks about Christmas.

The language

As this book was written in the 19th century, there are many words and phrases that you’ll not understand. The best way to understand these phrases to buy yourself the graded reader. The graded reader will help you understand the language better and it also includes extra exercises that you can do to improve your English.

Reading skills

As with any book, you will improve your reading skills. The most important thing is to not expect to understand everything the first time you read it. Many language learners believe that they will understand everything the first time they read it. What you can do is write down words / phrases you don’t understand and try to look for synonyms. If you can’t find any, then try translating them, but remember, depending on the context there’ll be more than one translation.


As you can see, there are different ways to learn English with ‘A Christmas Carol’. Each learner has their own preference how they would like to learn.


Have you become interested in one Britain’s best-known novels? Then click on the link below to buy it!

Are you looking for other Christmas present ideas? Then look at my previous blog post for more Christmassy ideas.

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