Post-vacation Blues: a conversation lesson

Whenever my wife and I travel during holidays we have these conflicted feelings at the end of the trip. We usually long to get home but, when we  do, there’s a little sadness to the fact that holidays are over and it’s time to get back to the routine.

With that in mind, this was a lesson for a student who was coming back from a trip to the USA earlier this year and one that I think is appropriate for the first week of classes. If you have a group of students it’s likely that some of them will have travelled in July, but even those who didn’t will already have experienced the feeling.

Start by asking students some questions about their last holidays. If you are teaching one-to-one questions can be more specific. Otherwise, ask students to discuss these questions in pairs.

  • When was the last time you travelled during your holidays? Where did you go?
  • Who did you go with? What was your favourite thing about your trip?
  • Was there anything you didn’t like?
  • Was it hard to go back to your work routine?

Elicit answers from the whole group. At the end, ask students if they have ever heard of post-vacation syndrome (PVS). Elicit some ideas and board them.

Now tell students they are going to watch a video that talks about PVS. Ask students to confirm their guesses and answers the questions below

  • What are the post-vacation blues or post-vacation syndrome (PVS)?
  • What are its symptoms?
  • What is suggested in order to fight it?

(Play it up to 2:55)

Ask students to compare answers in pairs and then elicit feedback from the whole group. As a follow-up ask students to discuss if they have ever suffered from PVS.

Now tell students they are going to read a text about overcoming the post-vacation blues. Put students in small groups for them to brainstorm ideas that might appear in the text. Board these ideas and give students a strict time limit to read the text and see if they are going to appear.

The original text can be found here and my adapted version is below.

Post Vacation Blues (USA Today)

After the gist task, give students a chance to read the article again and answer the following questions

  • Why is unpacking important?
  • What should people eat when they come back from a trip?
  • How does exercising help beating PVS?
  • Is it a good idea to organize a photo album? Why?
  • According to the text, why is it a good idea to meet friends?

Ask students to compare answers then elicit ideas from the whole group.

As a follow-up, ask students to discuss these questions

  • Which of the things suggested in the article did you do after getting back from your last trip?
  • Which ones didn’t you do? Do you think they could have helped? Why?
  • What advice would you give someone who struggles with PVS?

You could also go back to the text and explore the vocabulary that appears in bold.

to struggle to

to fool yourself

a go-to (snack)

to crave

to catch up with (friends)

to look forward to

Either give students definitions for them to match or ask them to guess the meaning of the words/expressions in pairs (which works better with higher levels). Either way, concept check the expressions before moving on to practice exercises. Remember to elicit from students what verb from follows ‘look forward to’. It’s also a good idea to elicit other possible collocations for go-to. My favourites ones are go-to excuse/outfit.

For some contextualized practice, you could get students to discuss the questions below.

  • Did you usually catch up with your family and friends after coming back from a trip?
  • Do you have go-to travel clothes?
  • What kinds of things do you crave when you are travelling?
  • Are you already looking forward to your next trip? Where would you like to go?
  • Do people in your family struggle to go back to work after coming back from a trip?
  • Do you remember the last time you thought someone was fooling themselves?

Thanks for reading

2 thoughts on “Post-vacation Blues: a conversation lesson

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