First Day of English class: A nice beginning
When we are teachers, it’s common to feel a little scared about our first day of class. Even though students more commonly have this feeling, teachers also feel scared.
There are plenty of reasons why a teacher can feel scared about having his/her first day of class. The first impressions are always important, and it’s necessary to leave a really nice big impression. Additionally, connecting with the students is also important. Maybe some teachers will say this is not important, because you are there for teaching and not to make friends, but, as a teacher, I have noticed that things work better if you have feedback with your students and if you make them feel good in class, as if they were at home. Then, when you want them to speak or do exercises, they will feel less shy and ask you questions without being afraid of you.
Regardless of that though, a good first class will make your students feel motivated and happy about their new teacher, and realistically, a good motivation always helps to learn a new language. We all know it can be a hard thing to do, but if we have the appropriate help, we can get through it.
So, the question will be, “how can we start off an English course without becoming boring or too basic?”
We all know what we should be learning during the first English class (I am talking about a beginner’s class). We could talk about introductions, the verb “to be”, and vocabulary, amongst others things. So, how can we teach these topics without using the blackboard or notebooks too much? It’s simple, I recommend you that you do a speaking activity.
When we are learning, the first thing we want to do is to speak. Even though we still may need to learn grammar and vocabulary, we want to speak. Realizing that, I did this activity with level I students and it was fun. My students really enjoyed it and it was a good ice-breaker activity.
First of all, you have to prepare some cards with different names, personalities, occupations, likes and dislikes. Before the class, be sure of the number of students you are going to be working with and how many girls and boys there are. I tend to create more cards with extra names in case there are extra students or I won’t be able to know the exact ratio between boys and girls.
Then, you need to find accessories that fit the descriptions of you characters. For example:
She likes going to parties and singing
As we can see, Karla is a singer and likes going to parties. You may want to find a microphone for her character. Next, you have to find another accessory for the other character, and so on. The thing is that you must create characters and you have to look for objects that fit those characters.
It’s important to remember that you must prepare the activity before the class, one or two days before if it’s possible. When the first day arrives, you must bring to the class the cards and the accessories.
When you start the class, do a quick placement test and make them introduce themselves, helping them whenever it’s necessary. Then, you have to teach them the appropriate way of presenting themselves. Most of the time, students will know how to say basic information but they will make some mistakes. When you are teaching introductions, say the common mistakes so they will not do those mistakes again.
If you need to explain some rules about presenting themselves or working in their books, just do it. This depends on the teacher.
Finally, put the objects in front of the table (try to do the activity at the end of the class). They will feel surprised and they will start asking questions about the objects on the table.
Then, give each student one card. When everybody has gotten their cards, stand in front of them and explain to them what they are going to do.
Basically, students have to read the information about the characters and then, pick an object that suits their characters. So, if for example, Carlos is a soccer player, he may choose the ball and not the guitar.
When all the students have picked their objects, they have to introduce themselves using the information in the card. So, they will be a different character with an object that represents them.
Sometimes, students may choose the wrong object because they didn’t understand what was written on the paper. If this happens, tell the student to exchange the object with a student who has his/her object.
This is a good ice-breaker because students start speaking and they make connections between objects and words. Also, they get used to using new words. Additionally, if you have good objects like colorful hats, crowns or clothes, it will be funny when they have to use them.
In the end, they will present their characters and they will see the characters of their classmates. When they see themselves using the different objects, maybe they will laugh or have an amazing time.
When it’s almost finished, be sure to congratulate your students and let them know that they can learn English and have fun at the same time.
I did this with my students and they had an amazing time. They enjoyed the activity and they learned useful and basic vocabulary.