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Monday, 27 August 2012

Six Quick Lesson Ideas For Starting Your First English Lesson

Six of the Best

These quick English lesson ideas are for anyone starting with a new group or starting a new school year. They could (almost) just as easily be used in your first ever English lesson, although hopefully you'll have had some sort of training beforehand!

So in the spirit of all good 'top ten' lists, here's mine for this coming academic year, or whenever. Everything is straight off the top of my head so a real mish-mash, a 'hotch potch', if you will. Comments, as ever, are more than welcome.


1) Tripping
Take a  trip out of the class (if possible) or failing that get the students to look out of the window and name everything they can see. Give them letters which words must start with, to make it harder. Give them random words like 'but', 'seven', 'green' etc. and they have to make sentences (e.g. It is sunny but it is cold. / I can see seven trees. / The grass and the leaves and Maria's skirt are green.). Give them examples first!

2) Today I Feel...
Write 'Today I feel...' on the board. Invite students to come to the front of the class and complete the sentence. For example, Today I feel... hungry, nervous, happy, sad, nervous, excited, like an ice cream... Choose any sentence you think would produce some fun responses, such as Today I want..., Today I will..., Yesterday I..., This year I am going to..., etc. Then ask students more about what they wrote, focusing on the content of what they are saying, not correcting mistakes.

3) Questions For Answers
My personal favourite. Put the answers to some imagined questions up on the board. For example '47' (How old are you?), 'Edinburgh' (Where were you born?), 'running' (What is your favourite sport?), etc. The questions you are looking for should be at the appropriate level for the class and the facts should be about you, the teacher. This allows students to get to know you a little. Students can then do the same activity with their neighbours about themselves.

4) Find Someone Who
One of the real classics which always works well if the activity is guaged at the right level. Give students a handout where they have to find someone who has done certain things. The question form is 'Have you ever...? For example, 'Have you ever visited Italy?', 'Have you ever written a poem?', 'Have you ever eaten a snail?'. For lower levels the questions can be in the past tense: What did you do this morning / yesterday evening / yesterday morning / last weekend / last summer, etc. Or simply a questionaire for the students to get to know each other better: What's your name? What's your address? How old are you? What's your favourite sport? etc.

5) Class Objectives
On a more abstract level, get students to discuss their objectives and requests for the lessons they will be having with you. For children this could be a list of things which will go to make a successful class (from which you can extract some sort of 'class rules' list collaboratively with them. For adults a more professional set of aims will arise but the principle is still quite close to the kids' lists: what they expect to happen in order for them to reach their goals, which will help you to plan your lessons accordingly. Get them to discuss the order and importance of the items in order to produce a 'top ten' list which can even be put on the wall for future reference.

6) Random Presentations
Start by giving a random two-minute presentation yourself on your favourite sport, meal, place or whatever. Divide it into three clear parts, such as: Rollerblading - a) Equipment needed and cost; b) Where you can do it; c) Why you love it. Introduce the three sections at the beginning and sum up at the end. Ask for questions about it at the end. Then give the students some time to do exactly the same with their favourite hobby or interest. There is no judging, no marking and lots of interest and questions. This is guaranteed to be a winner and even the most timid should be willing to present when they realise they are not being assessed. Make them stand up at the front for confident groups, and just do it where they are sitting for less advanced or nervous students.


There! I managed six fun activities - more lesson ideas than lesson plans, I admit - without looking in a book or killing myself to do so. Just don't ask me for a seventh - I think that's all I've got! Feel free to contribute your own ideas or variation on things which work particularly well for you in the comments section, and good luck - have a great one.

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© 2012 Sab Will / Hotch Potch EnglishWill Power English : "Six Quick Ways To Start Your First English Lesson"
Sab Will is a teacher, teacher trainer, fanatical blogger... and stuff.

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