Preparing for the first English lessons of the new school year can be exciting and challenging at the same time, especially when it comes to teachers who are tackling this task for the first time or even those who are changing courses or groups. The new course can bring many changes. These may be modifications to the curriculum or the introduction of new technologies in the classroom… As expert providers of e-learning for language training, we understand the importance of establishing a solid foundation from the very beginning. This guide will provide you with valuable advice to make your first English classes of the year a resounding success. From creating a welcoming environment to choosing the right content, we’ll cover the key aspects that will help you inspire your students and build a solid foundation for language learning.
A guide to a successful start: preparing the first English lessons
The return to the routine is not only complicated for students, teachers have to adapt to new challenges as well. New students, new materials… The first days back can be overwhelming which why it is important to prepare the first English classes of term with extra care, just to make sure we aren’t rusty.
The importance of planning
Careful planning is key to getting the first few classes flowing smoothly and establishing a strong foundation for continued learning. By structuring the content in a coherent way and offering activities that engage students from the beginning, we can create an environment in which students are encouraged to actively participate and build confidence in their ability to communicate in English. Additionally, planning ahead allows the teacher to anticipate potential challenges and prepare alternative solutions, thus ensuring that each student feels supported and guided as they begin their language journey.
In this guide we are going to look at 7 tips to prepare the first English classes of the course successfully.
#1 Know your students
A good idea for the first few days is to spend time doing activities that allow you to get to know your students on a more personal level. Understanding their interests, background, and learning goals will not only help you tailor your teaching approach, but also build a closer bond with each student. Plus, if your students don’t know each other either, these activities can play a crucial role in building connections in the classroom. By creating an environment where students feel seen and valued, you create a space conducive to collaborative learning and the constructive exchange of ideas. These initial interactions not only benefit the classroom environment, but also lay the foundation for future interactions and active participation in the learning process.
Carry out introductory activities which encourage students to talk about themselves (summer, their level, hobbies, etc.). This information can be very useful for organizing future activities as it will allow you to detect similarities among your students. Among some specific activities that can be carried out, consider some type of acrostic game. For example, using their name to form words with their initials and then writing sentences starting with those words. Thus, while the teacher learns their names, the students demonstrate the level of English they have.
#2 Create a positive atmosphere
Creating a positive classroom work environment is essential for the class to function well as well as for future dynamics. Greet the class in a friendly manner and express yourself in such a way that they feel you care about them and that you are interested in helping them learn. This will help you to build an educational environment in which students feel comfortable and confident in expressing their ideas and asking their questions without any inhibition.
Having established a foundation of mutual respect and empathy from the very start, students will see the classroom as a safe space to explore their target language and address any questions that may arise over the weeks.
#3 Clear objectives from the start
Define the objectives of the course from the beginning. Review the curriculum to update and clearly specify the goals for each class and course. In these first stages of the course, it is useful to communicate these objectives to the class so that they know what they are going to work on and what they are going to achieve during the school year.
In addition to defining the objectives, it is important to have a very clear route by which you plan to reach them. It is not uncommon to finish the course without completing the curriculum purely due to not having planned well at the beginning of the year.
#4 Design a series of organized lesson plans
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. Clear objectives need a clear class by class plan as well as meticulously planned individual classes.
One effective method is to start with an introduction that summarizes what is going to be covered in the class, gradually present the key concepts and then incorporate individual or group exercises (with the support of the digital whiteboard) that help to put it all into practice.
#5 Use educational software and audiovisual resources
The use of educational technology in the classroom can enrich lessons. Most language students are already digital natives and therefore the use of audiovisual and interactive content helps to keep their attention. However, the students are not the only ones who win. Teachers benefit from access to monitoring tools, automatic correction of activities and the possibility of personalizing courses, all of which saves them a lot of time and offers them information that they could not get without the support of technology.
Materials such as Dexway In Person, our version of Dexway for the face to face classroom, which help keep students engaged with dynamic exercises, real-world videos, and interactive materials that are tested and aligned with the CEFR. Images, videos, infographics and interactive activities make the concepts much more understandable and easier to memorize.
In addition, educational technology, or edtech, not only improves training, but also reflects a necessary adaptation to an increasingly digital world. By combining the intelligent use of technology with a sound pedagogical methodology, educators can provide students with the tools and environment to achieve a deeper and lasting command of the English language. That is why more and more schools, universities and training academies are choosing our courses, both online and face-to-face.
#6 Use English culture
To make the first days more relaxed, an infallible piece of advice is to use English culture to capture the interest of the students. Talking about festivals or traditions that take place during the summer or those that come in autumn is always an interesting, as well as educational, way to start the course.
Looking back, you can talk about Wimbledon (end of June), the Royal Ascot horse race (June), Notting Hill Carnival (August) or the Festival Fringe Edinburgh (August), to name a few well-known examples.
By incorporating cultural aspects and linking them to language learning, students gain a richer and more authentic perspective on English as a global communication tool.
#7 Encourage interaction and participation
No matter which of the tips you decide to put into practice when preparing your first English classes, you must always keep your intention of encouraging interaction and participation in the classroom at the front of your mind. The essence of this goal lies in fostering a dynamic environment so the interaction between students and the teacher can flow.
Beginnings are always complicated, but these 7 tips to help you prepare for the first English classes of the term can help you face the new course with a more participative and dynamic spirit, ensuring better results in the long term.
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