The first lesson is extremely important and can leave a strong impact on the whole teaching – learning process throughout the new academic year. The students get the first impression about you and you as their new teacher can show them how much you value their participation and ethusiasm in your lessons.
Our students is the main reason why we teach, why we go to work and why we prepare our lessons therefore it’s important to show your students that they’e very important to you. There’s nothing better than doing some student-centered activities that involve simple procedure and a lot of speaking about themselves.
These are the two activities I’ve been using with my students on the first days of new academic years. The levels and ages of the students don’t really matter unless they’re young learners or beginners.
Question – answer session
Preparation and procedure
Write down different questions on small piecies of paper that require sharing an opinion or personal experience. One question per piece of paper. e.g. What is your favourite movie? or you can also use indirect question e.g. Tell the others about your favourite movie. Make sure you don’t prepare too personal or too complicated questions as this is a get-to-know-you kind of activity so students have to feel free and comfortable giving their answers. Put the slips of paper in a paperbag or something similar and let the students choose, say 2 or 3 (depending on how many students and how much time you have) slips. Let them read through the questions and ask if there’s anybody who feels like choosing a different slip (in case the question is not appropriate for the student). Let them choose which question they want to answer first and let them decide how much they want to tell you and others about the particular issue. You can always ask them additional questions about the matter so that a little discussion can take place.
This is a very simple activity that kills two ( actually more than two) birds with one stone. First, as a teacher you get to know your students; secondly, by listening to their answers you can estimate their level (don’t correct every mistake they make); thirdly, the students get to know each other; fourthly, students will love this activity because everybody loves talking about themselves.
Some phrases to complete
Preparation and procedure
This activity can be done either on handouts or on a board. The teacher has to write some phrases on the board (the number of phrases depends on how much time and how many students you have) For example, A country I would like to visit. For an average class of 6 – 8 students I usually write around 6 phrases. The students have to write down their own answers to these phrases on the handouts that you’ve prepared beforehand or on their own pieces of paper. Tell the students that they don’t have to give their answers to all the enquiries and if they don’t feel like giving the answer they should leave it blank.
If the students know each other beforehand, collect the piecies of papers with the students’s answers and distribute them again, making sure that the students don’t get their own answers. Then encourage the students to read out the answers in the third person. For example, A country he or she would like to visit is Italy. After reading all the phrases the other students have to guess the author of these answers.
If your students don’t know each other, this activity can be turned into a pairwork. The students interview each other by forming questions and put down the answers of their partners. For example, Which country would you like to visit?. The teacher has to monitor the pair work making sure that they’re using correct grammatical forms of the verbs, paying special attention to the word order, however, don’t correct every single mistake. Then the students read out their partners’ answers using the third form verbs. e.g. The country Lidia would like to visit is Italy.
This activity’s especially interesting for groups of students who already know each other because there’s the guessing part that adds a little competition to the activity, besides everybody has a chance to express their opinion and you can always turn it into a small whole-class discussion by asking additional questions to the author of the answers after he/she has been revealed. The simplicity of this activity makes it even more attractive to students, and once again they have the chance to speak about themselves at the same time choosing the things they actually want to share with others.
The thing that I like the most about these activities is that even the shyest students have the chance to speak and these activities can open interesting topics for whole class discussions. I wish you very successful and productive first lessons in the upcoming academic year! 🙂