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How to ace the first minutes with a new TESOL class

How to ace the first minutes with a new TESOL class

Beat those first lesson nerves by getting off to a great start. Here's how...

No matter how prepared you are as a teacher, your first few minutes with a new TEFL class are likely to be a nerve-wracking experience. However, with just a bit of prep, a fun first task and a few fantastic ideas from us at Global English TESOL, you can ace this important initial stage of your first lesson…

To start, it is crucial to get your approach right. There is no getting around the nerves and so here’s how to beat them:

1. Confidence Inspires Confidence

We don’t mean you need to pretend to be a teaching expert from day 1. It’s just that confidence inspires confidence and so it is good to appear bolder than you perhaps feel.  So, when you first walk in to the classroom, do the following four things:

Look around the whole class.

Smile and speak clearly.

Stand (don’t sit).

Keep sentences short and instructions clear, easy to understand.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Before your class, practice walking into the room with confidence. Smile, stand in one place and say your first sentence clearly. Do this exactly as you would if the students were there. Get used to what your voice sounds like. It will really help to give you confidence when you do it for real.

3. Cut Out the Collywobbles!

What do you do when you are nervous? Scratch your ear? Fidget, play with your hands, pace a bit, focus your gaze on one spot? These are all small things to try to get out of the habit of doing. You want to start strong to give you and them confidence.

4. Get Students Speaking Early

You are nervous, but your learners are likely to be nervous, too. Set students up with a meaningful pair or group work task as soon as possible, and believe me, everyone will relax a bit.  

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An outline for your first 15 minutes with a new TESOL class 

Here’s a potential  outline of your first 15 minutes.  See the task we recommend you do and watch Louisa’s accompany ‘how to’ video at the bottom of this article.


First 2 minutes:

Walk into the room. 
Smile and say: Hello everyone, ensuring even eye contact with the class as you look around. Say your name. Perhaps get class to repeat it if it is unusual.

Write 4 facts about you on the board. E.g.

  • Louisa
  • 49
  • married 
  • I love chocolate and my dog 

Next 5 minutes:
Say: This is me, and point to the facts on the board.
Say: These are the answers. What are the questions?

Elicit the correct question formation from the class. You don’t need to write the questions out.

You can add some more prompts  - or adapt them depending on the dynamics of your class. but for a lower level class we suggest keeping it simple and getting to the next stage as quickly as possible.


Next 8-10 minutes:

Put them in pairs. 
Tell them they are going to find out more about their pair: Partner A will ask their partner some of the questions on the board and any other questions they want to ask. 
Say: You have 2 minutes, then you will change: partner B will ask A. After, you will introduce your partner to the class.

Set your watch or clock for 2 minutes. Say: Change, when it is time to change.

Remember to breathe. You’ll start to relax and the heart rate will begin to drop a little. It’s going to be OK!

Now bring the group back together and have then introduce their partner. Make a note of their names and see if you can remember them. Thank each student for their contribution. 

A final word:

Keep it moving and enjoy listening to your students introduce each other, showing interest, smiling and encouraging them. This is a great way to start your class by teaching a little, ensuring your students get talking early and for you to exude confidence while building a rapport with your class. Enjoy…

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  • Author: William Bradridge
  • Date: Tuesday 11th August 2020

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How to ace the first minutes with a new TESOL class