All about me

All about me

Some of them will be fresh to the social context of a school and so they will need a gentle introduction to you, their classroom and the children around them. It can be a daunting practice for everyone worried. To ease them into it you should begin with topics that they are familiar with. It is no surprise that many primary English textbooks have ‘All about me’ as their very first topic. Some teachers say you shouldn’t smile until Christmas, others say Easter. Personally I find it hard not to smile! Whatever you determine to do you need to combine a reassuring atmosphere, personalised topics and routine into your very first few lessons.

  • Reassure jumpy children
  • Create a safe learning environment
  • Install easy-to-follow routines
  • A5 paper for every child
  • Large sheet of paper for your self-portrait
  • Large, poster size calendar
  • Puny cardboard boxes (one per child) or large envelopes
  • Embark by welcoming them into the classroom. Be ready before your lesson embarks so that you can stand by the door rather than being stuck behind a desk shuffling papers.

  • The very first sentence
    You can have a welcome phrase that you use for every lesson such as ‘Good morning. How are you?’ You will find that after a few weeks the children will embark to repeat back to you the same sentence so it’s significant to maintain the same opening expression. You can of course have two so that you don’t sound like a parrot. You will need to prompt the correct response of ‘Fine, thanks’ but once they have heard it a few times they will be telling it back to you with a big smile. This will give them a sense of achievement as soon as they cross the classroom threshold. It will also make the ‘English classroom’ a special place whereby they need a fresh language to inject in, just like a password. It’s significant that you welcome each child individually. They need to feel noticed and welcome.
  • The hello song
    Primary children in general love to sing and it’s significant to have a welcome song that you can sing at the beginning of each lesson. It is an interactive routine that signals the commence of the lesson.Use a song that has an effortless to reminisce melody with lots of repetition; the lighter the lyrics the better. If it has deeds as well then not only will your learners find it lighter to understand, the quieter children will be more inclined to participate. Here is a site for pre-schoolers but with songs that are suitable for youthfull learners in an EFL class: You have many to choose from but this is one of my favourites:
    Embark the day with a smile (sung to The Mulberry Thicket )
    This is the way we commence the day,
    Commence the day, commence the day.
    This the way we commence the day,
    So early in the morning.
    Very first we smile and wiggle a arm,
    Jiggle a arm, jiggle a arm.
    Very first we smile and wiggle a arm,
    So early in the morning.
    Then we sit down calmly,
    Calmly, Calmly
    Then we sit down calmly,
    So early in the morning.
    We listen very Cautiously,
    Cautiously, Cautiously.
    We listen very cautiously,
    So early in the morning.
  • I like this one because albeit it has the excitement of a song it also encourages the children to peaceful down and be ready to commence the class. A golden rule is of course that you should never commence the class or an activity until everyone is quiet and listening. This song also permits children to have contact with you and the other children with the ‘shake a hand’ part. This is a very first step towards making them feel part of a group.

    Learning Names
    It’s vital that you quickly get to know everyone’s names. This makes the learners feel like you know them and care about them. It also helps for organizing activities and discipline. The quicker you learn their names the better.

  • The name game
    Everyone stands in a circle. They need to be able to see each other. One person has to say their name and do an act at the same time. This could be flapping their palm or taking a bow etc. It doesn’t matter what but make clear that each activity needs to be different. This you do by correcting the very first copied activity until it’s something different. It’s natural that they will all want to do the same thing but they will quickly understand that here they need their own act. You go round the circle with everyone telling their name and doing their activity. When you have been round the circle twice you then say someone else’s name and attempt to reminisce the act. The person you choose then must say someone else’s name and do the act that goes with it. This proceeds until everyone’s name has been said.
  • Extra peak
    I find it difficult to reminisce names, especially when you have lots of different classes beginning at the same time. What I do is photocopy the register and make individual notes next to each child such as ‘long dark hair’ or ‘wears pink glasses’. These prompts quickly become redundant but certainly help in the beginning.
  • The name song
    Here’s another song from the same pre-school website. This one deals specifically with learning names. I would demonstrate with everyone and then split the class into two groups otherwise it could take a long time to get round every child. You can say the very first verse and set one group off and then budge over to group two to set them off. Make your way from one group to the other to listen in and learn their names.
    Glad to see you (sung to Frere Jacques)
    I’m Ms. (name); I’m Ms. (name).
    That’s my name. That’s my name.
    Glad to see you here
    Glad to see you here.
    What’s your name? What’s your name?
    I am (name), I am (name).
    That’s my name, that’s my name.
    I am glad to be here,
    I am glad to be here.
    At school today. At school today.
  • All About Me
    Once they are embarking to feel at ease in an English classroom you can budge onto your very first topic. Keeping it individual helps the children to relate to the topic. Use effortless but useful language that they can learn in one lesson. They should leave the classroom feeling as however they have achieved something.

  • Self-portraits
    Take a large lump of paper and draw a picture of yourself with a big smiley face. Do this before the lesson to save time. Write your name underneath your picture. Mitt out sheets of A5 paper to the children and ask them to draw a picture of themselves and to write their name underneath their drawing. Give them a time limit so it doesn’t turn into an art class as they will most likely be proud of their drawings and take their time. Don’t rush them but don’t let it haul on either. When they have finished, display them your picture again and say ‘My name is ___’. Then go round the class and get them to hold up their picture. Ask the question: ‘What’s your name?’ They can use your model to response ‘My name is ___’. Then once they have practised this for a while underneath your picture you can write your age: just the numbers. You say ‘I’m ___ years old’. Go round the class and ask a duo of children ‘How old are you?’ Then ask everyone to write their age on their picture. You stir on to asking everyone’s age and ultimately they stick the pictures onto their envelopes or boxes described below.
  • My box
    This can be a one-off activity or you can develop it into an on-going project. If you don’t have the space to store petite boxes for everyone you could use large envelopes. They should be big enough for the children to stick their self-portraits onto the front. You can little by little build up the contents of the box. For the very youthfull learners it can be pictures of their families, drawings of their favourite fucktoy, a label cut from their favourite cereal packet, etc. This can obviously be spread over a series of lessons, be kept going up until Christmas or can see you through the entire year. It requires a little forward planning in the beginning but once you’ve integrated it into your class routines the children will look forward to it and expect to add something fresh to their ‘All About Me’ box.
  • Birthdays class poster
    It’s good if you can talk about birthdays early on that nobody gets missed out at the embark of the school year. See if it’s possible to take digital passport size photos of the children. You may need written permission and it might be too complicated but it’s worth asking. If you can then make a very large calendar that you can display all year. You can instruct the months of the year and each child can come and stick their photo on the day of their bday. That way you can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ when need be. If you can’t take photos then give out petite strips of paper (pre-cut so that the names will fit onto the calendar), and ask the children to write their names and then stick them onto the class poster.
  • Here’s a link to a printable ‘All about me’ booklet you can make with your learners. There are a duo of pages that you could leave out, i.e. my address and my telephone number but otherwise this could lightly be adapted to junior learners.
  • This topic could develop into ‘Me and my family’. Here is a link with printable material for making family trees for age 6 and up.
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