Knowing how to start a lesson is crucial. Kids are coming for a busy school hall or corridor, things are noisy and there is always a bit of restlessness in the air. Perhaps your students are coming back from their P.E. class or from English or Drama. The first few minutes of the lesson is the time for them to acclimate to this new reality: language class. Here is my Top Three Activities to starts a lesson.
Welcome, bienvenue, bienvenido, willkommen…
Before any learning activity, I always welcome my students into class. I try to exchange a few words with all of them, either in the target language, or in English. I ask them how was their weekend, or I follow up on a discussion that we previously had, or I comment the football news, or… It really depends on the student, and my relationship with him or her. Nevertheless, this part is essential, and many important conversations have started here.
After welcoming them, I introduce the lesson plan on the board to my class. I do it in French/English for the lower levels, and in French only with the higher ones. That being done, it’s time to start…
1. Speaker’s Corner
This is a starting activity that I used to do in elementary school when I was teaching French in Louisiana. It’s very simple and the kids loved it. You put all the names of your student in an enveloppe, and have one pick a name. That student comes up in front of the class (in my room, I had a speaker’s standup desk) to answer a few questions in the target language. I used it to review the previous lessons, but also to introduce new stuff as well.
2. The Four Corners Game
Another corner game! Great for elementary school or lower middle school, this game has the students walk around the room a bit, which they usually love. I pick four kids tostand in the four corners of the room, then I pick a fifth one and tell him (in the target language): “You go to…” and add the name of one of the standing student. When he gets there, my fifth student has to answer a question from the corner student. After answering, that same student sends the corner student somewhere else in class, either to an other corner, or back to the chair. In that case, an other student is picked to go back in the game.
3. The Mind Map
This is a good way to brainstorm using the whiteboard to introduce a new topic with a lot of new vocabulary. I ask my students what is the first thing that comes through their mind when I say a word (for example: “city”), and I translate their answers on the board, linking them in a mind map. I allow my students to use English in their answers, and I encourage them to give me a spontaneous, unfiltered answers. I try to make subcategories (for example: “transportation” or “house”) and expend the vocabulary list. Only at the end, I ask the class to take note.
Extra: The Good Old Dictation
Go see my posting of the dictation, another great way to start a lesson!