'The Language of Christmas' by Hannah Loder has been announced as the winner of the 2020 English Language and Teaching (formerly TESOL) essay competition at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU).

Designed to get people into the festive spirit, entrants were invited to submit short essays discussing how their favourite Christmas advert uses language and images to construct meanings and good feelings over the festive period.

Hannah’s essay explored the John Lewis Christmas advert of 2020, titled ‘Give a Little Love’, which focused on the importance of kindness and community spirit during such a turbulent and unpredictable period of time.

As winner she will receive £250 and you can read her essay here:

The language of Christmas adverts

The John Lewis Christmas advert of 2020, titled ‘Give a Little Love’, focuses on the importance of kindness and community spirit during such a turbulent and unpredictable period of time.

The advert's promotional theme of ‘Give a Little Love’ is repeated throughout the advert and is often depicted through the use of images. The series of vignettes depict characters performing various acts of kindness, from a girl using her umbrella to dislodge a boy’s football from a tree, to an animated snowman offering roadside assistance to a motorist experiencing car trouble; all scenes of which contain the use of heart symbolism. The heart imagery that is repeated throughout the advert connotes feelings of positive morale and further implies the need to care for one another during the festive period. The subtle acts of selflessness portrayed in the advert, combined with the repeated heart symbolism helps viewers remember the true spirit of christmas which is typically overlooked due to perceived ‘essential’ tasks like buying presents etc. The advert therefore reminds the audience to focus on less trivial and commercial aspects of the festive period and instead prioritise making a difference to someone's life who may not be as fortunate as yourself.

In addition, the advert's imagery is accompanied by a song called ‘A Little Love’, performed by Brit Award-winning soul singer, Celeste. The song itself denotes feelings of community spirit and creates further emphasis on the importance of being charitable during this evidently untypical festive period. The line ‘Of all the things to be, I choose the kindness’, implies how easy it is to be ignorant of those less fortunate than you and that every individual therefore has the choice to be insensitive when it comes to helping those in need. The irregular verb ‘choose’ emphasises the choice every one of us has to give back to those who are perhaps impoverished or destitute; this therefore enables the audience member to relate this choice to their own life and perhaps acknowledge the true spirit of Christmas more - giving. The line ‘ It's so surprising what the little things can do’ also implies that it's the little, less trivial acts (that one usually deems as insignificant), that are in fact the most important. The evaluative adjective ‘surprising’ therefore suggests how minor acts of generosity can be more impactful than initially perceived to those in need of them.

Speaking after the announcement Dr Smaragda Kampouri, Programme Leader for English Language and Teaching (formerly TESOL) at BGU, praised the quality of Hannah’s essay along with the quality of all the entrants:

“We are delighted to award our prize to Hannah for their essay about how Christmas adverts have communicated their messages against the challenging backdrop of Covid-19, and how they referenced our current difficulties as well as the strength of family and a festive spirit of goodwill.”

“We were incredibly impressed at the quality of the entrants, they all clearly have a talent for exploring and understanding languages, hopefully we’ll see many of them as BGU students in the future”

If you’re interested in studying how languages and linguistics have evolved and how they can be applied internationally, visit our website, speak to a member of Enquiries Team or join us on one of our Open Days to find out how to take your first steps on our TESOL course.