Ice-breakers are awesome

Last week I started a new group with Intermediate students. There were 6 of them and this fact really makes me feel happy about the group in general. When it was a Pre-Intermediate group, there were 4 of them and they used to miss classes sometimes, and the progress was not transparent for both parties, I mean for me as a teacher and for students themselves. Now with 6 of them (we added 2 more students) it’s great to have lessons full of joy and as a result, to have a sense of achievement, because, it seems they are really enjoying lessons (though we’ve had only 2 so far).

My today post is one of the ice-breakers I gave a try to with this group. Before the very first lesson I had a short chat with my curriculum manager Lena, who gave a piece of precious advice for me, related to ice-breakers. And here comes the short outline of how I managed to have it at the lesson.

Outline: I gave my students small square sheets of paper and asked to write 6 sentences standing for 6 facts they know about their partners in the group, including me. I also took my sheet of paper and wrote down 6 facts about my students (I should say, it was great to be in my students’ shoes, for it was quite difficult to write facts about some of them). Thinking and writing took us about 6 minutes. Later on I nominated a person and everybody shared his facts with the whole group. It was so interesting to learn more about my students, and also to learn how they see me.

So, I should admit, I would love to repeat this activity with other groups (when I start new ones). It was amazing to have such a wonderful lesson and I love sharing it with you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Enjoy spring!

Newcomers give food for thought…

Yesterday one of new employees joined Intermediate group of students. This can happen quite often, when in the middle of an academic year somebody starts a course. So, yesterday I was quite interested in having a lesson, in showing our internal rules and traditions (I mean, inside the class). But I did not do it myself, I asked my students to help me and to introduce themselves in an alluring manner.

So, I used one of ice-breakers I was really into, when you introduce yourself using a model:

I’m Anna, I’m ‘A’, I’m awesome.

I’m Paul, I am ‘P’, I’m polite.

This time along with the initial model I added a question “Why are you in the group?”, so it made my students introduce themselves and, thus, they told about their goals and ways of learning English there. I personally loved the way they accepted the activity, because it somehow showed their ability to support the new guy and give him awareness of how classes are conducted. It goes without saying, the newcomer and me introduced ourselves as well, and though my speech was different a bit, it helped me to realize how I participate in the group, not only in a role of the teacher, but also as a person who’s ready to give any necessary support and be helpful whenever they need it.

Thanks for reading!

New group, new ideas, new reflections

This week I’ve started a new group, Upper-Intermediate. There are many students in our office with levels of higher than B1+, or B2. That’s why we decided to create a new group and include those who… Who what? That was probably the most interesting and challenging question for me. Before actual start I tried to talk to each of my potential students and ask them about their goals for learning English. I should say, some of them are completely busy working with customers on their projects, and it can influence their learning process, and I guess, the situation with attendance might be different, at least different from the first lesson. I was warned about it and nevertheless I decided to start. I was lucky to prepare for the lesson with lots of new activities, new for me as for a teacher, and also new for students, though I guess for them many activities will be new for some time, just because they hadn’t had much English at work, talking about English classes, in particular. I can’t say I managed to recognized their goals and ideas about accepting an invitation to come and study English, but all of them mentioned improving their skills and mastering the existing ones. I believe, in this case we will cooperate and work together to achieve results.

As for the first particular lesson I was in look out for an ice-breaker, a good ice-breaker for a starting point and just in order not to rush into materials of the textbook. Though, I should admit, a year or so ago I would do like this, without a game in the beginning or even without letting guys know each other. Thanks to our Curriculum Manager Olya I was completely sure about ice-breakers I was going to use, just because one of the them I tried myself, being a trainee at the Teacher’s Training back in 2014. It’s called “A Map of Me” with symbols helping others to know more about my life. So students did the same with their maps, they created their own maps and discussed in pairs.

Here’s my map. Not bad, I guess.


Also thanks to Olya I found a nice board game from book ‘Speaking Games’. “Needs Analysis Challenge” is its name and now I can say it is the most interesting thing to start a new course. Its goal is to find out students’ knowledge about some methodological points, say, learning grammar or different ways of practicing vocabulary, and also their personal goals and ideas of how they could learn English. Instead of rushing into the material of the textbook they just spent about 20 minutes playing this board game, and I’d say it worked perfectly. Thank you, Olya!

My personal reflection is very simple. When you start a new group or a new course, spend some time letting your students know each other. And let yourself know their personal goals, why they study English. It will help you to plan future lessons, having in mind those things your students told you. And one more thing. There are lots of activities described in methodological books, but sometimes they just stay in books. You are free to try them out and create your own understanding of what works and what does not. Don’t be afraid of trying them out, just don’t be afraid. And after that you’ll see you’ll have a lot of things to reflect about in your blog.

Thanks for reading!