Tag Archives: first day activities

An Engaging Combination: First-Day Introductions+Indirect Questions + Concentric Circles Technique

Last week was crazy. No lessons yet but lots of tests to be marked and tons of red tape to go through. So, I am shockingly super excited about beginning a new course; yes, excited about getting up early and teaching non-stop for six hours and   no…  I did not trip and fall  into a bucket full of cider   😉 (typical drink where I live).

First days are for introductions and little more, but  this year I think I am going to kill two birds with one stone  and combine introductions and some grammar that needs to be reviewed. So, I have got this idea in mind of asking students to introduce themselves to each other using indirect questions. I hope most of my new students will have, at some point over the years, studied  with me and for the rest, I will have to find a way to deal with the OMG- shocked looks I am sure I am going to get. But let’s cross that bridge when I come to it!

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Level: Intermediate and Above

Time Required: 30-45 minutes

Description of the Activity .This engaging activity has been designed as a  first-day oral introduction activity and to teach/help students revise how to make indirect questions . I will use the concentric circles  technique,  which is a mingle activity .The technique is explained below and I have also published a picture of my students doing the task.

STEP 1.Revision of Indirect Questions.

Indirect questions were studied last year, so we will just do a quick revision with this video I have  created using the free tool powtoon.com

If necessary, we will spend some minutes brushing up in two different ways

  1. Doing some online exercises you can find here  or , here  or if you do not have a computer, you might want to photocopy this worksheet here
  1. Orally producing some questions and asking students to provide the indirect question.

 STEP 2. Writing .

Ask students to write a question they would like to ask their classmates. For example: ” Do you speak any other languages?”, “Where do you live?” or “How long have you been studying English?”.

Give students slips of paper containing the beginning of an indirect question and ask them to make sure they know how to ask their question beginning with the phrase on their card. Cards here. (template downloaded from Teknologic). For example : “Can I ask  you where you live?” or “Would you mind telling me how long you have been studying English?”. 

STEP 3. Explaining the concentric circle technique.

This technique is a kind of mingle. Although mingles can be a bit noisy  and a bit disorganised, most students love it.The distinctive feature of a mingle activity is that all the students work simultaneously and switch from one classmate to another while speaking. Mingles allow constant repetition and this raises students’ confidence in their use of English.

Students arrange themselves so that they are facing each other in two circles. The inner circle faces out, the outer circle faces in, so that each participant has a partner that they are facing (Note: If the group has an uneven number of people, the teacher should participate in the circles). Each student from the outside circle, after speaking with the person facing him or her, moves one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle. I would suggest asking students to switch partners every four minutes for this activity. This concentric circle technique can very well be adapted to talk about any given topic of discussion. Encourage students to elaborate on their answers and use targeted language structure.

STEP 5. Speaking.

Students introduce themselves to the person they are facing and then ask their indirect questions making conversation with their partner. After four minutes, call time and rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership.

The conversation might go something like this:

Student A: Hi, I’m (student’s name)

Student B: Hello, my name’s  (student’s name)

Student A: Can you tell me how long you have been studying English?

Student B : (answers the question giving as many details as possible)

Student B : Can I ask you a question now? Would you mind telling me why you are studying English?

Student A: Answers

Teacher  says :”  Rotate” and students from the outside circle move one step clockwise to speak with a new classmate from the inside circle.

Model an example of a conversation with a student.

Stop the activity when they have had a chance to speak to most students.

 

 

 

Four Icebreakers to Get to Know your Students

that require no preparation 😉

♣The one I like best is Personal Star ,for many reasons but mainly because it requires no preparation  and students always  enjoy a bit of gossip  about their new teacher.

I draw a star on the board and inside it  6  answers to questions about me. (My answers are black , London, December 9, tennis, Terry, English , and meat.)

Tell students that the star contains information about you. Ask them to try to guess the information behind the words by asking questions.If they don’t get the idea give an example. Tell them “My favourite colour is black. What question do you need to ask to find out this information?” Elicit from them, “What’s your favourite colour?” and cross out the word ‘black’ from the star.

Then , put the students in pairs. Ask them to draw their own personal star and put 6 pieces of information about themselves inside. In pairs they can ask each other questions to find out about their partner. When they have all finished, ask them as a group to tell the others what they have found out about their partner.

 

♥Interviewing your partner: Tell students they are going to interview four or five people they don’t know in the class. Ask them to write three or four questions to ask these people. Once it is done, students get up and walk around the classroom

♥Find someone who. .. (bingo)

This is a good icebreaker to practise questions and to get students moving.

Ask students to draw a grid (4 squares across and 4 down) . Now, ask them to fill in the squares with prompts such as : speaks French, likes mice, plays golf…etc.

Make sure students know how to play bingo- this is quite  important , as you can guess. Students get up and walk around asking questions to everybody in the class but they have to have a different name for each grid. So if a student asks a question to a student and this student says “yes” , he should write the name of that student in the grid and move on; if the student says “no” , he can then ask this same student a new question. The first person to get a line down or across shouts “LINE” and the first person to fill in all the boxes with a name shouts  BINGO.

I would , most definitely, encourage follow-up questions  when checking,  with  the students providing the questions- of course.

♥Five Questions. Divide the class in five groups and ask each group to write a question they would like to ask you. In turns , one member of each group comes up to the board and writes the question. The students decide if the question is correct in terms of tenses, spelling …etc. Finally , the student asks the question. Before you tell them  , give the students the chance to guess your answer.

Hope you find them useful and have tons of fun with your students!

 

First Day : getting to know my students

I’ve been teaching for a long, loooong time and one might expect I don’t have to suffer from first-class stress . But I’ve come to terms with myself and admitted  that no matter how long I’ve been in the business, it is always going  to feel like  having a bull ( past the butterfly feeling) in my stomach. So again, I’m hunting books ,posts, and the Internet for ideas to use on the first day  to get to know my students and to give them the first chance to use the language. These are the ones I’m considering  – in case you want to use them.

By the way, these are the ones I used last year if you want to have a look http://www.cristinacabal.com/?p=2694

♥Interviewing your partner: Tell students they are going to interview four or five people they don’t know in the class. Ask them to write three or four questions to ask these people. Once it is done, students get up and walk around the classroom.

♥Get to Know you Bingo: this one requires a bit of preparation but it’s not like you are already loaded with exams, is it? Let’s play bingo, then! Now, the first thing you need to do is prepare a bingo sheet with some questions ( a grid of  4×4 , for example). Make sure students know how to play bingo- this is quite  important, as you can guess. Students get up and walk around asking questions to everybody in the class but they have to have a different name for each grid. So if a student asks a question to a student and this student says “yes”, he should write the name of that student in the grid and move on; if the student says “no”, he can then ask this same student a new question. The first person to get a line down or across shouts “LINE” and the first person to fill in all the boxes with a name shouts  BINGO.

I would , of course, encourage follow-up questions  when checking,  with  the students providing the questions- of course.

♥Who Am I..? I love this game to introduce myself to my students. It is played in teams and there is a winner. If you have been reading me for some time you know I am very competitive; that must be the reason why I am definitely going to use this one this year. The game was written by Paul Adams  and here is the link

♥Five Questions. Divide the class in five groups and ask each group to write a question they would like to ask you. In turns, one member of each group comes up to the board and writes the question. The students decide if the question is correct in terms of tenses, spelling …etc. Finally, the student asks the question. Before you tell them, give the students the chance to guess your answer.

♥Writing SampleI’m thinking it might be a good idea to use this warm-up after doing some oral practice. The idea is to ask students  to write a bit about themselves  to  get an idea of how advanced they are. Some ideas might be : Why are you learning English and why are you taking this course? or What’s your favourite hobby ?

Hope you can use some of these ideas!!!

Back to School ! Part II : Icebreakers to get to know my students

So much for writing about going back to school but… my classes haven’t started yet.The big day is going to be Monday and I am still deciding which ice-breakers will work better  with my new students.

Let me show you some of the ones I’m considering and you might want to drop a line if you know of any others that work well. The good things about these ones is that they require “No Preparation“.

The one I like best is Personal Star for many reasons, but mainly because it requires no preparation  and students always  enjoy a bit of gossip  about their new teacher.

I draw a star on the board and inside it  6  answers to questions about me. (My answers are black , London, December 9, tennis, Terry, English , and meat.)

Tell students that the star contains information about you. Ask them to try to guess the information behind the words by asking questions.If they don’t get the idea give an example. Tell them “My favourite colour is black. What question do you need to ask to find out this information?” Elicit from them, “What’s your favourite colour?” and cross out the word ‘black’ from the star.

Then, put the students in pairs. Ask them to draw their own personal star and put 6 pieces of information about themselves inside. In pairs they can ask each other questions to find out about their partner. When they have all finished, ask them as a group to tell the others what they have found out about their partner.

Who has never told a white lie?? This is another very traditional way of getting to know your students. The Game could be called True or False? or any other name you fancy.

Write on the board  3 statements about yourself :, 2 must be  true ones and 1 must be false.  Grade the statements depending on the level of the class. For beginners, use the present simple.

 

♥I go to the gym four times a week
♥I like football
♥My favourite singer is Justin Bieber

For a more advanced level, a mixture of tenses would be great:
♥I have been to Israel in July
♥I once did a bungee jump
♥I don’t like hoovering

Students will have to  guess which one is false. Then, ask the students to do the same and write 3 sentences about themselves. In small groups they read out their sentences and the others guess the false one.

♣Add an adjective
The aim of this activity is to try to learn their names. Introduce yourself by saying, “my name’s Cristina and I’m calm”. (Replace Cristina with your name and “calm” with an adjective which has the same first letter) Emphasise the fact that your adjective starts with same letter as your name. Invite the students to introduce themselves in the same way.

♣Hot Seat: Preparation: some vocabulary for revisionSplit the  class into two teams. Take two chairs and place them at the front of the class. One member from each team sit in the chairs so they are facing their teams and with their backs to the board.
Now, write one of the words you want to revise and write it on the board. The aim of the game is for the students in the teams to describe that word, using synonyms, antonyms, definitions etc. to their team mate who is in the hot seat – that person can’t see the word! The student in the hot seat listens to their team mates and tries to guess the word.
The first hot seat student to say the word wins a point for their team.
Then change the students over, with a new member of each team taking their place in their team’s hot seat.
Then write the next word…

Source: straight from http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/language-assistant

Back to School! :)Part 1

Here I am again!!!! Summer has slipped  by and I can hardly believe that I am about to start a new school year. This year I’ll be teaching in a different high school and yeeesss,  there are some butterflies in my stomach!! I don’t know the teachers , I don’t know the students… and they don’t know me. It’s hard to start all over again. This year I’ll be teaching lots of different levels (OMG!) mainly due to cutbacks so , sadly, I don’t think I’ll have much time to research new tools or create new materials .

Anyway, these are some of the pictures I’ll be using on the first day to try to make my new students relax and  have a healthy laugh and, then, there also follows some other pictures to get them into more serious thinking. My aim: to make students talk. Is there ever any other?

Warmers , Fillers and Coolers

Welcome back to my blog! How quickly time flies! Tomorrow I’ll be heading back  to the classroom and I’m sure you will be too.

On the first day, it is not always easy to get started. I’m never in the mood to start teaching straight away as some students have not bought their textbooks yet, you have some information to give, some forms to be filled ..etc, so I usually end up having less than half an hour to  get  them  into the right mood for learning. That’s why I am considering using some of these activities  from Online ESL Activities to help my students get rid of the dust accumulated during the summer holidays  and give their English some brushing up.

For elementary students:

3-6-9
This is a very popular Korean game. Students take turns to say numbers in order. The first student says, “1”, the second student says “2”, etc. Every time the digits 3, 6, or 9 appear, the student must clap once for each digit, not say the number.
So with the number “3”, the student must clap , not say “three!”. With the number “30”, the students must also clap once, and with the number “39” students must clap twice, because there are two instances of the digits 3, 6, and 9.
If a student says a wrong number, claps at the wrong time, or says a number instead of clapping, they are out. Last person in the game wins.

As a variation, you can also include other rules for different numbers. For example, with multiples of 5, eg. 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. students must shout “A-Ja!”.

Alphabet Tic-Tac-Toe
Draw a 3×3 grid on the board. In each square of the grid, write a letter. Put the students into 2-4 teams. Each team selects a square, and must think of ten words beginning with the letter in the sqaure. Give them a time limit, for example 1 minute. If they get 10 correct words, that team gets the square. The first with 3 in a row wins the game. With more teams use a 4×4 grid, teams have to get 3 or 4-in-a-row. Good for younger learners.

For intermediate classes:

Family Fortunes
Based on a popular British TV show. Put the students into two teams. The teacher should then think of a topic, and secretly write down 5 words connected with that topic. Teams take turns to guess the five words the teacher thought of.

For example, give the students the topic “Things you make spaghetti with”. Then jot down 5 connected words, eg. pasta, tomato, sauce, meat, herbs. The students in the first team take turns to guess the 5 words. If they guess them all correctly, they win. Otherwise the next team gets a chance. If both teams can’ t guess all 5 items, the team with the most correct guesses wins



Password
Split the class into teams. One student from each team comes to the front and faces away from the board. The teacher writes a word on the board. The teams must give definitions to the team member at the front of the class. The first student to guess the word wins a point for their team.
As a variation, students can also be given three words which they cannot use in their definitions. For example, to define the word “rabbit”, you could disallow the words “ears”, “jump” and “carrot”.

Scattegories
Write a few categories on the board, eg. clothing, food, country, etc. Put the students into teams. The teacher gives a letter to a team and the students have to think of a word (or several words) starting with the given letter for each category. For example, imagine a class is using the example categories above and the letter “s”. Correct answers would include “shirt”, “salad”, and “Spain”. If a team gives a word for each category in under a minute, they get a point. The team with the most points wins

 

Spelling Bee
A student must start by saying a letter, eg. “d”. The next student must say another letter, eg. “a”. This student should know a word that starts with “da”. The next student says another letter, eg. “t”, and this student must know of a word that starts with “dat”. The next student says another letter, and so on.
Students may add letters even if they can’t think of a word, but this is dangerous. Every student, on their turn, can challenge the previous student about their spelling. If the previous student knows a word that uses all the letters given, the challenging student is out. If the previous student does not know a word, then the challenged student is out. Game continues until there is just one student left.

 

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