Ideas for the First Class with New Learners
The first class with new learners can be an anxious one for all concerned – teacher as well as learners. Below are some tips to make that first class go smoothly.
* Lesson Plan: in any ‘first lesson’ it is vital to interact and motivate the learners so they will want to come back again. Thus it is essential to create a positive, supportive and challenging environment. This mean encouraging the learners to work together and raise their awareness of the course as well as using their names and finding ways of making the language/material relevant to them and their lives.
* Lesson Aims:
* Get to know you activities: these allow the learners to find out information about each other and fosters a supportive and interesting environment. For example, personalized board games, questionnaires, interviews, Find someone who… etc. Activities that are learner generated work very well for example have the learners write facts about themselves on strips of paper which are then redistributed and learners have to find who wrote what. Alternatively learners change the information into questions and use it in a mingle activity.
* Get to know the teacher activities: it is important that learners have the opportunity to find out something about their new teacher (without going into too much personal information). Learners like to know a little about their new teacher – who has come from abroad, traveled and can speak English very well! One way to do this is to bring in some pictures or photos of important people or places and place them around the room. Learners work together to try and guess why they are significant. Alternatively, you could write some sentences on the board and learners choose which are true and which are false – this could lead on to a learner generated activity where they do the same thing in groups or pairs.
* Teach Something: it sounds obvious but learners like to leave the class feeling they have learnt something. Getting to know you activities can be fun and communicative but some learners may feel that language input is missing. One way to deal with this is to combine teaching with an initial activity: for example at lower levels teaching like/love/don’t like + noun/gerund and with higher levels dependent prepositions e.g. good at/interested in/worried about/scared of etc. Also teaching useful classroom language such as can you say that again? What do you have for number …? is a good place to start as it can be graded for any level and gives learners language that encourages them to talk to each other and communicate in English. Finally learner centred error correction and feedback after activities can act as a useful input stage.
* Round up: End the class with a fun activity so the learners leave the room up smiling and wanting to come back.
What are your top tips for new classes?
Sophia McMillan is the Training Manager / TESOL Course Director at Shane Training Centre, Shane Corporation Ltd, Japan. The only Trinity accredited centre in Japan and dedicated to promoting & fostering teacher development.