Select Page

This post is intended to be part of the latest ESL/EFL/ELT Blog Carnival, which being hosted by Eva Buyuksimkesyan this time at her blog A Journey in TEFL. The theme this time is warmers and fillers for first classes, as many teachers will be starting a new academic year very soon. Here is my post for the carnival.

First lessons on a course, or starting a new academic year, can be tricky experiences – learners may be unfamiliar with each other and there probably hasn’t been a chance to develop a class spirit together yet. I often find that the best lessons involve some element of humour, and this could be particularly useful for a first lesson in the year. What follows is an adapted version of a post I have written about drawing as an introductory activity (you can read that post here).

What you need: plenty of blank paper (at least one sheet per learner); coloured pencils; Post-it notes (optional)

1. If you can, set up the classroom furniture so that the learners will be sat facing one another. As they come in, encourage learners to introduce themselves to one another. You could model this by shaking hands, or using whatever greeting is appropriate in the culture of the country you teach in.

Something like this is good

2. Give each learner a piece of bank paper and ask them to draw an oval or circular shape in the middle of the page. Ask them to draw the face of the person sitting across from them. If any learner really doesn’t want to draw someone or be drawn, you can provide images of people for learners to copy from. Make sure the learners do NOT write the name of the person they are drawing.

3. Circulate among the learners, asking them about who/what they are drawing, providing any language they are reaching for. Make notes about anything you would like to discuss with the group later.

4. When finished, ask the learners to display their portraits on the wall. Give each learner a Post-it note or two, and encourage them to look at every picture. On their Post-it they should write something they like about one of the pictures and stick it on the picture. Model this, a note could be something like ‘I like his blue eyes’. Monitor and provide any language help needed. Take a couple of Post-its and write your own comments for one or two pictures.

5. When everyone has stuck their Post-its up, collect all the pictures. Starting with the picture that has most notes, discuss them with the learners. Ask questions like ‘Who do you think this is?’, discuss the learners’ comments. Discuss any of the language notes you have made from your earlier monitoring of the activities.

Hopefully your learners are better artists than I am!

6. Finally display the pictures on the walls or on the board, and ask learners to match names to pictures. End the activity by asking learners to tell the class one thing they learnt today, such as an item of vocabulary, or how to talk about why they like something.