The ABC of ELT

Make Sure You Teach Something in Your First Class

This is just a little tip but one which many teachers (including myself) often ignore to their peril. In your first class with a new group, you should provide some input of new language. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do any “get to know you games” or needs analysis, just that those type of activities shouldn’t fill all your time. So make sure you teach something in your first class.

Team building is important…

All the team building and needs analysis activities are really important. It feels very unnatural to just “start” learning without any form of introduction. It can also lead to students feeling more self consious, something that isn’t great when you want them to experiment and attempt using language they aren’t certain of yet, or in situations where they don’t feel completely comfortable. Furthermore, some form of “getting to know each other” no doubt occur with or without you choosing to instigate it. By instigating it, you can set boundaries (such as occurring in the target language).

But language input is important too.

The trouble is when we don’t provide any form of input we start off on the wrong foot. I’ve had students come up to me and complain that they were “just playing games”. I pointed out that they were taking part in a project, they used a variety of different language, I pointed out a list of errors they made during the lesson and the work we’d be doing on those areas in future weeks, but the student was still not happy with the content of that first class.

In some cases, students believe they have been placed at the wrong level, or that their teacher might not really know what they are doing. They might also perceive these classes to be easy and relaxing, and while being “relaxing” isn’t bad, being easy suggests we aren’t pushing them enough and we should “demand higher” (oh wait, it’s not cool to talk about that anymore is it).

Quick wins

Some language input also helps provide a sense of achievement for the students and “quick wins”. A small improvement they can immediately see. This is great for long term motivation as well.

Start your term right, teach something in your first class

So if you are returning to the school year now or recently, make sure you start it right with some solid language input early on.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

One Reply

  1. The first day, in business classes is always fine-tuning needs analysis, a negotiation of the preliminary syllabus and an assessment task (often “Welcome and orient a visitor”). Not a big fan of icebreakers seeing as I don’t really give two hoots about favourite foods unless I’m getting some. And getting to know people over weeks is more satisfying, hence the popularity of television drama.

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