Monday, February 21, 2005

10 Ideas for first classes or to start the year

10 Ideas for First Classes.

If your students tell you they don't know any English, try this: Put them
into groups and tell them to make a list of all the words they know in
English. Then get the groups to write the words up on the board. In theory,
the board should be covered by a mass of words. This should boost the
students' confidence and leave your board pens dry.

Bits of string can make this next idea more interesting. Cut several lengths
of string (half the number of students that are in the class). Clasp the
lengths of string in the middle so the ends are hanging on both sides. Now
tell the students to take a good look at each other (instead of at you ?
"Who is this crazy string?cutting teacher?). Now tell them to come to where
you are standing and each take hold of one end of string. Let go of the
string so that the students can discover who is the mystery partner holding
the other end of their piece. The students then take in turns to stand back
to back with their string partner and describe each other ? what they look
like, what they're wearing etc.

Here's an idea designed to get your students thinking in English again. How
much vocabulary can they remember after the holidays? Students take it in
turns to say a word but the first letter of their word must be the same as
the last letter of the preceding word. An example? School Life Exam Madness

"My name's George and I like beer." Students and teacher do this activity
together, sitting in a circle if possible. Student A announces her name and
what she likes (or where she lives, what she does, where she's been...).
Student B reports this to the rest of the class (Her name's ... and she
likes ...) and then introduces himself. Student C reports student B's
information and so on.

Make your students aware that there is life outside of the classroom. You
could use first classes to help them find their way around the school and
discover what facilities are on offer. You could write some true/false
questions which the students can only answer by exploring the building. For
example: The library is opposite Room 21. There's a bar on the second

Younger students might enjoy a treasure hunt around the school building.
Write a sentence of about seven words with each word on a separate piece of
paper. Leave the pieces of paper pinned to the walls in different parts of
the school. On each piece of paper you should write instructions of where to
find the next piece. Like this: Go upstairs, turn right and look beside the
fourth door on the left. The students follow the instructions, making a note
of the seven words that they find. They then put the words into the correct
order. Give a prize to the student or group that finishes the activity
first. Feedback on what was discovered about the school.

Write a short story which has the same number of sentences as there are
students in the class. Give one sentence to each student but not in the
correct order. Each student then reads out their sentence in turn. By
listening and understanding, the students have to put the sentences into the
correct order and sit beside the student who has the preceding sentence.
When they have done this, they read out the complete story. Here's the kind
of story that can work well: Yesterday a man was walking in the park when he
saw a gorilla. He asked a policeman what he should do. The policeman said:
"You should take the gorilla to the zoo". The next day the policeman was in
the park when he saw the man again. He was still with the gorilla. "I
thought I told you to take the gorilla to the zoo", he said. "I did", said
the man, "and he enjoyed it so much that today we're going to the cinema".

Students can, of course, write their own stories word by word. Each student
takes it in turn to say a word making sure that the words build into
sentences to make a story. When a student feels that the end of a sentence
has been reached, she can say "full stop". The next student then starts the
next sentence.

Write a paragraph on the board and tell the class that they have to reduce
the text to one word. They can take out one, two or three words so long as
they are together. The text must still make grammatical sense when the words
have been deleted even if the meaning changes. Although this may sound like
an impossible task, it is nearly always possible. At the next class you
could start with the one word that remained at the end of the previous class
and try to reconstruct the whole paragraph. The students will have already
worked so hard on the paragraph that this should be relatively easy.

Find out how many students there are in the class and prepare the following.
A piece of paper for each student numbered 1 to however many. Dream up a
very long sentence and write it word by word on the pieces of paper (1st
word on paper 1; 2nd on paper 2; 3rd on paper 3...). If the sentence is
longer than the number of papers then write the next word under the 1st word
on paper 1 and so on. Give the papers out to the students in order. Student
A reads out the 1st word. Student B repeats the 1st word and adds the 2nd.
Student C repeats the 1st and 2nd and adds the 3rd. The process continues
and gets harder as students have to remember more and more of the sentence
that has already been read out.


Karen Haines said...

I like your string idea, and will use it with a new class next term.

Karen in NZ

Karen Haines said...

I like your string idea, and will use it with a new class next term.

Karen in NZ

Sarolta said...

Paddy, you're a great source of ideas. Thanks for sharing them with us. Kind regards.