Great Start! How to break the ice with new young esl students

April 9, 2008 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Children's Classes, Teaching Tips: Warm ups | Leave a comment
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Today I taught two classes of new students, about 40 kids. The kids were great, and they were only five years old. Since it was their first lesson, I was very careful about how I started the class with them. I wanted to make them really relaxed and comfortable first. To me, this is the most important thing with young learners. Once they are comfortable with you as a teacher, then they are much easier to teach.

The Warm Up

Todays warm up was using familiar words, and actions. So I said “Hello” and had them repeat, then I asked them to jump. Every country is different, but in Japan the word for jump is the same as English, so its a good action to teach right away. I also had them sit down, and stand up, several times. Then I took all this and made it into a little game. “Sit down, stand up, jump! Hello, sit down” gradually increasing the speed until everyone was laughing. After this, they felt relaxed with me, and I went straight into Numbers. Another great thing to teach for first timers.


I do a few things with numbers for the first lesson. Most kids in Japan have heard English numbers, so they are already a bit familiar with them. This, again, makes them comfortable. So I use flashcards to teach 1-10, then I do it backwards 10-1. Next we sing Dream English Let’s Count. First I teach them the dance and song, then we do it with the music. Afterwards, I ask them how old they are. In this case 5, so I show them the number 5, and teach them to say, ” I am 5 years old”. Very simple, but if you think about it, not bad for a 5 year old who has never spoken English in their life.

Other Ideas

There are a lot of great websites out there with great ideas about starting a new year. One of them I refer to often is Genki English. Richard, from Genki English, wrote a great blog with ideas for starting off new classes, check it out here.

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