Introduction Lesson

Julie and I have both completed our introduction lessons.  Our teachers gave us 50 minutes to tell a classroom of forty students about our country, state, hometown, family, interests, and hobbies.  How did we do it?

Following the advice of a former ALT at an orientation meeting in Portland, we decided to make cards that look like this:

My cards do not look as nice as Julie's...

My cards do not look as nice as Julie's

As you can see, one side of the card contains a number while the other contains a question.  We each made about 12 cards and distributed them at random to our students.  Rather than just talk for fifty minutes, we called on students to read their question to us.  After we would answer the question, often using photo pages created before we left the U.S., we would ask the same question to the student sitting next to the student who had the card.  Afterwards we would walk up to each student, shake their hands, congratulate them for their bravery and pronunciation, and inform them how nice it was to meet them.

We each had two to three cards that allowed the students to ask any question.

Julie's "wild" card.

Julie's "wild" card.

The cards allowed the following to take place:

  1. Instead of one person talking about themselves for fifty minutes, at least twenty-four students actively participated in the presentation part of the lesson.
  2. The students practiced their pronunciation.  It was a great way to sneak in an English lesson.
  3. Having mostly prearranged questions helped filter out questions that may have been difficult or uncomfortable to answer.
  4. The cards provided a nice structure and helped the lesson move at a quick pace.
  5. Asking questions helped us get to know the students a little better, too.

What else did you do?

Introducing myself took about half an hour.  Then I took five minutes to say a few encouraging words to the students that mostly centered on the difficulty of learning a second language.  I tried to explain how we can learn from our mistakes by using a colorful example of me trying to speak Japanese my first day in Japan.  On that day, when I was formally introduced to a coworker (my superior), instead of saying “nice to meet you” I accidentally said “mornin’ pal, let’s eat!”

I also wanted to use my lesson to get to know the students.  Although the cards helped with that I decided it wasn’t enough for me.  I gave my students an interest survey that took them about ten or fifteen minutes to fill out.  With the extra five minutes at the end of class, I quizzed them over my interests and rewarded them with stickers for correct answers.

How did it go?

Great!  If you are an ALT who happened to stumble upon this blog looking for ideas, I highly recommend this lesson.  The students were interested and eagerly participated.

Julie taught a very similar lesson to junior high students.  It went great but there was one striking difference:  her students went gangbusters over the stickers.  Mine simply thought they were amusing.

Her students also recognized me in the pictures she presented.  One student in particular became very excited when he saw me.  He pointed to his ears, pantomiming a use of headphones.  Apparently he sees me walk to and from school everyday while I listen to my iPod.

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3 Responses to “Introduction Lesson”

  1. scalesoflibra Says:

    Konnichiwa! I was looking for people’s experiences on the JET Program since I’ve been wanting to apply, and found your blog. I’ve been back a few times to see it, and I was beginning to feel a bit creepy about reading about strangers’ lives without making my presence known. Maybe it’s silly, because that’s what the internet is, right? But, that’s how I feel. ^_^ So, hi!

  2. School Visit « Pacificloons Says:

    […] office studying Japanese and continuing to read my book of short stories.  I then gave my introduction lesson to two classes:  a group of 35 first graders and a group of 8 third graders (both at the high […]

  3. Lesson Planning « Pacificloons Says:

    […] been a busy week.  I have now given my introduction lesson to every class (sixteen total) at my high school.  Since we started a new term last week, that […]

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