The first lesson with any group can be a bit scary.
Here’s an activity that I’ve found useful when dealing with students from about Grade 3 (Sri Lanka) or 3rd Standard (India) all the way through primary and secondary and on to working with adults.
It lasts for about 30 mins but you can make it longer if you have lots of prepared things to say and lots of questions to ask them. Turning it back on them and asking them lots of questions takes time and helps build their confidence.
What you will need:
A ball (or something else you can throw around the classroom, a packet of pocket tissues works, as does a soft hat that you can scrunch up).
A big smile!
Start by greeting the class (good morning/good afternoon) and get the class to repeat (you may need to try this 4 or 5 times).
Now introduce yourself: “My name is Kath.”
Getting To Know The Class:
Ask everyone to stand.
Throw the ball to a student, say “My name is Kath. What’s your name?” and throw the ball to them. Help them to respond.
When they’ve had a chance to speak, ask them to sit down and throw the ball to another person.
If you are dealing with older students they (or you) may get bored with asking people’s names. So you could change the questions. “I am 35 years old. How old are you?“. “My favourite colour is blue. What’s your favourite colour?“.
I always say the answer first (“My favourite hobby is reading.“) before asking the question (“What’s your favourite hobby?“) because it gives students a model of the response you are after and gives them more chance to work out what their response will be. But you could make things more difficult by leaving that out.
Tell the students that they now know something about you: “You know that my name is Kath, that I’m 35 years old, that my favourite colour is blue.”
Ask them if there is anything else they want to know: “I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me. You can ask me anything. About me, about the UK, about English.”
Help the students when they ask questions. “Your country?” “What’s my country? My country is England.”
You can turn the questions back on them. “My favourite subject is maths. What’s your favourite subject?”
If they have no questions you can just tell them a bit more about who you are and after every two or three sentences ask if they have questions. As they relax with you they should become more eager to ask.
If you have time at the end it is good to go over what you’ve done. “Can anyone tell me what my name is?” “How old am I?” “How many brothers and sisters do I have?”
I’ve found this to be a great way to get to know my students and for them to get to know me. It starts with basic vocabulary and I can make it harder as I go if the group is able to cope. It’s a good way to get everyone talking right at the beginning.