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ELT Podcast - The Teachers' Lounge

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First Lesson of the School Year for EFL Classrooms

Bill Pellowe, Kevin Ryan, Robert Chartrand

Podcast Notes

This episode of ELT Podcast - The Teachers' Lounge looks at the first lesson of the year. We plan on at least one more episode on this theme before classes start up in April (which is the beginning of the school year in Japan).

Today's panel is:

  • Bill Pellowe, Kinki University Kyushu School of Engineering, and ELT Calendar.
  • Robert Chartrand, Kurume University.
  • Kevin Ryan, Showa Women's University, the University of Tokyo and kevinryan.com.
Here are summaries of the three ideas we discussed:
Kevin Ryan's Profile Cards:
  1. I cut A4 (or letter) sized pieces of paper into 4 and give each student 2, 'one for mistakes. I like mistakes. Mistakes mean you are learning.'
  2. 'Put your paper on your desk vertically.' (then we go through asking questions about 'What does X mean?' and I give definitions in English, no translations. Set the mood.
  3. 'Draw a horizontal like in the middle of your paper.' Again with the 'What does horizontal mean?' and also to show that if they don't ask questions, I keep going. They have that responsibility. Sometimes I give them their Job Description: Students ASK questions, TAKE notes, MAKE mistakes and use all three to LEARN new stuff.
  4. 'Draw aNOTHER horizontal line one centimeter above the first one.' (Longer instructions test their listening.)
  5. 'In the bottom half, draw TWO horizontal lines, and TWO vertical lines to MAKE NINE SQUARES.' This I have to repeat several times, because students now have to listen and think. Solving problems. After the fifth repetition, if they still don't get it, I include gestures, drawing two fingers in a V shape across (horizontal) and then down.
  6. 'Please answer one question in each square. The top left square, please write 'Where are you from?' or 'Where were you born?' Sometimes I have to tell them to only write the answers, not sentences.
  7. 'In the top center square, please tell me Where do you live?' I tell them I was born in Chicago and live in Tokyo. H) 'In the top right, tell me what does your father (or mother) do? What is their job?'
  8. 'In the middle left, tell me Who is your favorite singer (or group)?'
  9. 'In the middle center, tell me Who is your favorite actor (or actress)?'
  10. 'In the middle right, tell me who is your favorite author?' (I usually have to explain what an author is, and some are hard put to give an answer, sadly enough.)
  11. 'In the bottom left, tell me, if you changed into an animal, what kind of animal would you be? (no cats or dogs)'
  12. 'In the bottom center, tell me, if you changed into an fruit, what kind of fruit would you be? (no apples, oranges or strawberries)'
  13. 'In the bottom right, tell me what would you do if you got 1 million yen?' (I usually have to write the number on the board.)
  14. 'OK, now we are done with the questions. Please give me your papers. Names? Not necessary.' (I collect and shuffle)
  15. Distribute the papers amoung the students. 'OK, please take one.' Students will mingle to return the papers to their owners. 'Ask a different question each time. If you find someone that has the same answers as your sheet, ask all 9 questions. Make sure. Then return their paper to them.' (Practice the questions in chorus). 'OK, everybody stand up and return your paper to the owner. I like noise, but it must be ENGLISH noise.'
  16. 'Now you have your papers back. Write your name in Japanese and English in between the two horizontal lines in the middle.'
  17. 'In the top half, draw a picture. Of yourself. When you are speaking English.'
  18. As students finish drawing, I collect profiles and memorize everybody's name. This takes about 7 minutes as we have classes of about 20.
Total time, 20-30 minutes.

After this, I tell them, 'OK, I know you. Ask questions. You can get to know me. I like questions. Except, How old are you?'
This summary will be provided soon.
Bill discusses this idea in more detail on the Teaching English in Japan site.

You need small squares of paper (one for each student) and cellophane tape. Have everyone write their name on their paper, and tape it to themselves. Everyone stands (so you've got two lines of students) and walks around in a narrow but tall oval. As they pass each other, they greet the student across from them by name. 'Hi ___!' They go around 2 or 3 times.

Next, everyone takes off their name tag papers. Have students pair off and sit down together in a way that lets them see the other students' faces. Each pair works together to write down the names of all the other students. Each pair can talk among themselves, but not to anyone else in the room. After a few minutes, "correct" these papers by having each student give a short introduction.

The next option is to collect the name tag papers and then re-distribute them randomly, so that students do not have their own. Pre-teach phrases for when you're not sure of someone's name (such as 'You're ____, right?') or when you've forgotten someone's name ('Sorry, what was your name again?'). Students try to return the name tag paper to the right person. When a student receives her name tag paper, she has to thank the other student by name, so perhaps she'll need those pre-taught phrases.
If you have an idea to share, e-mail us at podcast AT eltpodcast DOT com.

mp3 file
size: 7.96 MB
time: 16:33
Apr 9, 2008

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