Journal: First Day Impressions and Planning

Today was my first day of class!

Students: 7
Countries of Origin: El Salvador, Mexico, South Korea, Honduras


  1. Students will register
  2. Students will start learning each other’s names
  3. Teacher will get a sense of everyone’s English abilities

What surprised me:

  • I only had two students returning from last semester.
  • I thought I would be working with my students alone, but I was actually collaborating with an office staffer and the other teacher.
  • The classroom was at least 80 degrees.
  • When we were all introducing ourselves, one of my Latina students said that her name was Boobies.  (It’s not.)

What I did well:

I think I successfully stayed flexible.  I think I came across as approachable because a couple of students took me aside at breaks to talk to me about their goals.  I made sure I called on students randomly by using slips of paper with each student’s name.  I did a simple chain drill with students’ names (stand in a circle, take turns asking the person on your left his/her name), which I think is a great foundation for them learning each other’s names and for future chain activities with more difficult material to practice.  I found out that many students are interested in finding a new or better job, so we will probably spend at least a couple of weeks in a job unit.

What I’d like to improve upon:

Today felt more like constructively killing time than actually getting started.  This was in part because we spent the first hour and a half on registration paperwork (mostly in Spanish because my colleague speaks it fluently).  As I mentioned in the prior section, I do think I started building some important foundations and that a good many aspects of class went well.  I’m just excited to dive into a unit for a couple of weeks and to do some targeted lessons in reading, listening, and pronunciation.

Thoughts for tomorrow:

Start with a chain drill of everyone’s names.  Review letter names (especially the names of vowels tend to be difficult for Spanish speakers) with the flyswatter game.  Diagnostic test that came with the textbook to see if there’s a unit that everyone is weak in.  I’d also like to do a reading lesson, probably from Very Easy True Stories.  Maybe a nice lead-in would be a grid activity where students ask each other their name, where they’re from, and a question relating to the story (i.e. if it’s the story about a 5-year-old driving, students ask each other “Can you drive a car?”).

Looking a little farther ahead, I think we’ll do the name review each day this week, and that we’ll do a listening lesson on Wednesday.

2 thoughts on “Journal: First Day Impressions and Planning

  1. I remember you saying that you had training in teaching ESL awhile ago – what kind of training was it? What’s the approximate level of your students?

    1. I took TEFL Certification class at Hamline University. It’s intended to prepare you to teach English as a Foreign Language (as in, teach English in a country where English is not the official language). I did the month-long intensive and it was Awesome. The practicum in particular was really helpful, plus I got to teach at my learning center.

      My current students are “Level 2” which actually sort of coincides with Top Notch Book 1. The students have a wide range of abilities. In general they’re at a really cool point where they can make themselves understood pretty consistently and they can usually understand most of what’s being said if it’s straightforward and not too fast. Some know a great many irregular past tenses of common verbs, others know just a few. On the diagnostic test we took today, most of them had trouble using “have to,”should,” and the present continuous. Also, writing is a pretty big challenge for them, but they have great attitudes about it.

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