May 14, 2009

First Class in a new adolescents or adults course, what shall I do?

At the beginning of a new course of adolescence or adult students, I'd try to engage them in a set of activities. That very first class (assuming a 40-minute class) will be devoted to get to know each other and motivate them to start the year with the right foot.

Ice-breaker: BRANDED NAME (10 min)

Sit them in a circle (if possible due to sitting arrangement) and ask the first one to say his/her name and a word or brand that they know in ENGLISH. Each student should have to repeat the previous student's word and add a new one. By the end they will have mentioned at least 20 words in English.

OUR REASONS (10 / 15 min): These words should work as starting point for me to ask them whether they use English in their every day life or not? And ask them to carry out a short survey within the class to find out the top 5 reasons why they should study our subject.

After some minutes, I will ask them to write on a poster their reasons and to find out a title that will summarize their objective.

STORY TIME (10 min): After they've finished with the poster, I will read the following story asking them to find connections between the reasons they've written down and the story.

In your hands, NLP in ELT, Jane Revell and Susan Norman, Saffire Press, 1997
In your hands, NLP in ELT, Jane Revell and Susan Norman, Saffire Press, 1997 Shorli83

In the end I will give out the following copy taken from The Teacher's Magazine #110, EDIBA, February 2009, for the to reflect upon for Homework and come up with one thing they can commit themselves to throughout the year:

Learning a Langauge, The Teacher’s Magazine #110, EDIBA, February 2009
Learning a Langauge, The Teacher’s Magazine #110, EDIBA, February 2009 Shorli83

Based on Teaching and Learning in Language Classroom, Tricia Hedge, Oxford, 2000 (Chapter 1)


  1. Hi there Yohi!! It`s so nice to read what you're working on at the moment :)The article by Raven and Norman made me think how the teaching process is both in our hands in our sts' hands...

  2. Lots of food for thought here, Yoha! In fact, I think they might be suitable for different levels ("BRANDED NAMES" might be ideal for beginners; the last two only for intermediate and upper classes).

    Question: why restrict the sharing of words they know to "brands"?

    Question 2: have you ever had to face a group of teens who say they're simply unmotivated to learn English? How would you deal with such a situation?

    Way to go!

  3. Hi people!
    I know Yohi why you asked for brand names, simply because they are what we are most exposed to. Almost everything we buy has an English name! Anyway, it's true that they may be acquainted with other English words.
    I loved the idea of including a story! It's so thought-provoking!
    Keep blogging! ;)
    See you next week!

  4. Hi people.... I see you are already asking and answering questions...

    Just to make the things simpler, let me tell you what I had in mind while planning this first class activities...

    For the "BRANDS" I ment the words they use evaryday (e.g. playstation, mc bacon, band-aid) sometimes brands are so powerful that the object behind them acquires the brand name as of its own.

    SO thanks Alez for reading me between lines :)

  5. what about unmotivated students?

    I certainly think this might be a challenge, however, I think it would be hard to find a group where the 20 students are simply unmotivated... So if at least I get one "motivated" student, I would try to take it as a starting point of a class discussion/brainstorming that will start with some of my suggestions and that will end up with some of their examples. From there onwards, I would give them a couple of minutes to find one of the motives that they could identify with and try to "sell" it to a partner. With this selling activity, they will need to make the effor to find at least 1 possitive thing to emphasize of one of the motives. If tis serves the though provoking poupose, it will be more than enough for me!

    What do you think?