In my previous post I promised to share some ideas on how to start the new school year with old and new English learners. No matter whether I already know my students from the previous year or they are new in the class, it is always an awkward task to get them involved and motivated from the first day, particularly so after a long break like summer holidays.
This year I have decided to get unstuck from my comfort zone; apart from asking them the typical questions: “Did you have a good time this summer?” “Where did you go?” and the rest, I tried some ideas which I found on the Net and I am really grateful to the colleagues who shared those tips.
So, let’s get started!
Who wants to travel on my spaceship? (Beginners and Elementary level)
First, you tell them to say their names. Write them on the board. Then you ask them if they wish to travel on your spaceship. But to do that they should bring something along. Write on the board:
I want to travel on your spaceship and I bring a ………………….. with me.
I want to travel on your spaceship and I bring some ………………….. with me.
The key is that the object that they should think of must start with the first letter of their names. You can start with your own name. For example, I say “ My name is Jo. I want to travel on your spaceship and I bring some jellies with me.” The funnier the things they think of, the more fun your class will have.
Look who I met (Elementary level and on)
Get your students to know each other. Tell them to choose their partner and ask each other questions . The higher their level, the more topics they can cover, i.e. family members, hobbies, favourite food, leisure time.
Then, tell them to present their partner to the rest of the class. This way, their classmates will learn more about the person introduced and the information will be circulated. For the kinesthetic learners you can practice this activity with the ball. Students throw a soft ball to their partner asking a question. However, their challenge will be to remember all the facts that their co-player is sharing.
Tip 3Let them know more about you (from Intermediate level and on)
I wrote some facts about myself under the numbers 1-6 , like some names, numbers, dates , etc. I told them to choose first a number and then ask a question so that they may get the answer. For example:
Nr1 – 19 years – “How long have you been teaching?” Correct answer !
It is not very easy to form the right question from the start and it would be a good idea to mix easy and difficult prompts so that they can get the right answers in the beginning and later move on to a higher level. You can certainly adapt this activity according to your students’ level and age.
Post-it! (Elementary level and on)
Give your students four post-it pieces. Tell them to write one statement about themselves on each one of them. Get a big piece of carton and stick their posts on it. You can have that poster on the board, let the students read them and guess who wrote what.
These are some of the activities that I practised on the first day of the school year and I am sure you can find further interesting ones on the Net. The main aim is, however, to have fun and raise your students' interest and engage them in their learning as they kick off the new school year.