On the first day of class, the halls buzz with excitement.
Teachers get ready to greet their students, anxious to get started, and our young, or not-so-young, learners are nervous, wondering what their teacher’s like. Of course, first impressions count, and it’s essential to have a first day of class that will set the tone for what the rest of the school year or course will be like. And it will be fun!
Here are some fabulous ideas for the all-important first day of class:
Getting to know your new students
The first day of class is a great opportunity to get to know your new students and find out a little more about them.
1. This Is Me:
2. This Is Me (for older students):
Never underestimate the importance of activities to break the ice on the first day of class (you have already checked our new ‘Warmers and Ice-Breakers’ category, haven’t you?). No matter how old or how young your students are, there is always a little anxiety about having to speak a language that is not their own. To get the year off to a great start, try either of these icebreakers, and you'll see your students will be more relaxed and less anxious about learning English.
1. Introduce me:
More advanced students, may be simply given areas to investigate, like:
They should be encouraged to take notes, and try to remember as much as they can about their partner. Once they’re done interviewing each other, each student has to introduce his or her partner and tell the class what they've learned about that person.
Very young learners or beginners can simply be taught to ask simple questions like, “What’s your name?” and “How old are you?”, then introduce their new friend to the class: “This is Sandra. She’s 7 years old.”
2. My goals:
A word book
Create a personalized dictionary that each student will keep for the duration of the course. Hand out a few blank sheets of paper to each of your students, as well as a piece of poster board of the same size. The poster board will be the front cover of their dictionary, which they can decorate as they please. The blank sheets of paper will be the pages of their dictionary. They should write down new words in their dictionaries, with a short definition, example, or drawing.
Looking to the future - Buried Treasure
Here’s another great activity for the first day of school that will blow your students away on the very last day of class. Create a Treasure Chest. Ask your students to draw pictures of themselves and write something on the back: a description of themselves, their favorite things, what they hope to learn and do in class, etc… Measure each of their heights with a piece of string or yarn and label each one with a child's name. If possible, record each of them speaking, briefly stating their names and a little something about themselves. Get a cardboard box that will hold all of the drawings, pieces of string, and the cassette or disc, seal it with tape, and hide it somewhere in the classroom, or take it home with you.
On the last day of class, you can play a Treasure Hunt game, complete with treasure map, or simply re-open the box in a grand ceremony. Students will have a blast looking at their earlier work, and they’ll be amazed to see how much they've learned and grown.
You can do something similar with adult learners. Ask them to write a paragraph about themselves, with no corrections from you, just a spontaneous sample of writing. Keep all of your students’ writings, and on the last day of class show these to them, so they can see how far they've progressed in their writing skills. You can also record them speaking. This activity is a lot of fun, but it also presents very tangible evidence of how far they've come, something that any ESL learner will appreciate.
Whatever you do on the first day of class, take the time to get to know your students and let them get to know you.
Set forth the classroom rules with the little ones; discuss your students’ goals for the course. But the most important thing is to lay a solid foundation for what will be a year of cooperation and learning.
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