Your first ESL class on your first day is very important. This class is your introduction to the school as a whole as well as your first introduction to your students. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching kids, teens or adults, they don’t know you yet, so they’re going to try and work you out, see what kind of teacher you are. First impressions are a big deal. They can be changed, but it’s better to start like you mean to go on, this will make your English teacher job much easier.
First Day, First Class
Imagine that you’re a new teacher at EF. You’ve finished onboarding, observed a few teachers and have finally been given your classes to teach. When it comes to your first day and your first ESL class, it’s common to feel nervous and anxious for it to go smoothly. In my experience, I’ve found that a good class depends on three main ingredients: being knowledgeable, being prepared and feeling confident.
Step 1: The Pre-Planning Stage – Defining Success
Before planning, you need to ask yourself a few crucial questions: What is the lesson topic? What’s the aim of the lesson? And what do you want the students to achieve by the end of the class? It is important that you ask these questions early and make sure you have them written down. The answers to these questions will shape the content of your class and the sort of games and activities you will use.
Step 2: The Planning Stage – The Road To Success
When you start to plan your first ESL class on your first day, make sure that you choose your games and activities carefully. Lessons in which younger students only play games or spend most of their time doing book work are not helpful for their English development, so aim for a balance of the two.
Teenagers generally hate book work so keep it to a minimum. I’ve found that a better approach is to teach them new words and have them use those words during role plays, debates and small research assignments to get maximum real-world experience.
When teaching higher levels (such as Front Runners at EF), it’s very helpful to do some research and gain at least a working knowledge of the lesson topic, especially with unfamiliar grammar points. Make notes of activities that they might find difficult and how you’ll help them through it, and some explanations (using visual clues if needed) of new words they might struggle with. Observant students will quickly figure out if you don’t know much about a topic or you didn’t prepare well, so make sure you’ve done your homework.
Step 3: The Preparation Stage – Getting To Know Your Environment
When the planning is done, have a good look at the assigned videos or suggested videos for that class, make sure you know how long it lasts and what’s in it so that you can prepare questions or even answer questions based on the video.
Another pain point is technology. The chances are that you will use IWB’s (Interactive White Boards) for videos, games and activities. Make sure you get to class early, have a play around to ensure that you can demonstrate them properly. Trying to figure out how to do an IWB activity during class time is a good way to lose credibility as an expert.
Step 4: Teaching Time – It’s Time To Rock Their Worlds!
Remember to relax. The students will probably be much more nervous than you; it’s their first class too. Most students want their teacher to like them as well. Smiling and perhaps throwing in a few jokes and anecdotes here and there can really help break the ice.
Bonus Step: Have A Sense Of Humour
It’s important to have a sense of humour because you can usually count on things to go wrong. For example, the printer breaks down at the last minute leaving you without important worksheets. Or perhaps you’re stuck in a classroom with the world’s slowest computer. Maybe a computer that doesn’t work at all. Don’t apologise for not being prepared. Smile, work with what you do have, and who knows, your first ESL class on your first day may still be a roaring success. Besides, if you’ve followed these four steps, I’m sure it will be.
Are you ready to put these tips to the test?
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Post by Adam Benson, EF English First Guangzhou
Adam is an Australian Senior Teacher based in Guangzhou, China. He’s addicted to writing and has been feeding that addiction by writing freelance articles for magazines, newspapers and online sites in Australia and China. When he’s not working, he loves helping his sons practice their English.
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