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.

Warm Up Time: Up, Up, Up… Down….

January 31, 2008 at 12:33 am | Posted in Teaching Tips: Warm ups | Leave a comment
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Usually when I do this warm up I have my guitar, but not always. If you are a guitar player, simply pick a guitar chord and slowly slide it up the next as you say, “Up, up, up, up!” Start from a crouching position, and slowly stand up to your tipoes. Ask the kids to do the same, start in a crouching position and as they chant “up, up” with you they should slowly stand up eventually reaching up as high as they can. When everybody is as tall as possible say, “Down!” and everybody should fall back to the crouching position.

No Guitar? No Problem!

If you don’t have a guitar, simply clap your hands, or shake a tambourine, or anything else fun to get the kids moving. While you are clapping, start the “up,up” chant until you are clapping your hands high above your head. If you clap, the kids probably will too, so you can clap in rhythm with the chant.

I usually use this warm up after I do the “Getting Faster” warm up. Have Fun!

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