I open every class with an intro routine. I add one or two words per day, and by the end of the course, the kids have picked up about 90 expressions from just intro alone, and they have had loads of exposure to a huuuuge variety of grammar. Here’s how I do it.
- I ask, class, what is the day? and class, what is the date? Then, I answer in the affirmative and ask a few questions: class, is it Tuesday or Wednesday? That’s right, it’s Wednesday. Class, is it the 28th or the 29th? That’s right: it’s not the 28th– it’s the 29th.This will teach kids days and numbers 1-31 with zero effort. Time: 1 minute.
- I ask class, what is the weather like today? That’s right, class: it’s snowing. Class, was it snowing yesterday? That’s right: yesterday, it wasn’t snowing: it was sunny! If the weather where you are never changes, talk about weather elsewhere. Time: 1 minute.
- The missing kid. This is great way for French and Spanish teachers to introduce the subjunctive. If Zak is away, I say clase, Zak no está aquí. ¿Dónde está? [kids make suggestions] Clase, ¿es possible que Zak esté en casa? ¿Es possible que Zaka vaya al medico hoy? etc. Your pop-up is simply va means goes, and vaya means might be going or is maybe going. Time: 1-5 minutes.If you’re a scene-spinner, you can turn this into a mini story: Clase, Zak fue al médico porque tiene tres ojos. No quiere tres ojos—quiere sólo dos.
- We do what did you do last night? First, I model it myself: I tell the kids about my evening, thus: Class, last night I drove my purple Ferrari home, and then I had a date with Angeline Jolie. That’s right, class: Ang is single so we had a date. Our date was fun and romantic. We went to McDonalds! Ang was very happy but I threw up in my Ferrari.
I ask, Suzie, what did you do last night/yesterday? Yes, I do this with Day 2 beginners. I use the following “past tense PQA” chart. Initially, the kids just read off it. On Day 2, the question was what did you do last night? and they could only pick I went to…. and I played…
So I would ask a kid what did you do last night? and they would (in the first few days) read something like last night, I played GTA 5 or yesterday, I went to Wal Mart. I would ask questions about their answers, re-state in 3rd person, and then do compare and contrast questions. Here is a sample dialogue from today (we have had about 27 classes):
T: Manpreet, what did you do last night?
S: Last night, I went to Wal-Mart.
T: Class, did Manpreet go to Wal-Mart or to Safeway last night?
T: Manpreet, did you go to 7-11 last night?
S: No, I went to Wal-Mart.
Here we are getting 1st, 2nd and 3rd person reps on the basic past tense. I “allow” one new word per day, so after 8 days the kids at least recognise the basics (ie what is on the chart). Yes, you can do this with total beginners and it’s a not-bad idea…because the longer people hear _____, the more chances they have of picking it up. After they recognise everything on the chart, I add a new word or two on the board per day. Time: 5-10 minutes.
5. The news. On Day 1, ask one news question: what happened in the news yesterday? Kids will say something like the Patriots played the Chargers. Write this on board, then S.L.O.W.L.Y. circle it. Introduce ONE verb form per day.
With that vocab, you can ask questions such as did the Patriots play the Broncos? (no) Did the Patriots play the Seahawks? More reps? Point to your question words and ask where did the Patriots play? and when did the Patriots play? You want to use where? and when? because these allow a lot of circling without adding any new vocab.
The next day, ask the same question what happened in the news? and circle the same item briefly (if it happened again– eg if there was another football game, talk about that). The talk about a different item eg Angelina Jolie dumped Brad Pitt! Within 5 classes you will have a solid set of good vocab, kid centered, to discuss. Only introduce one verb per day. Time: 5 min.
6. On Friday, we do weekend plans, using this:
6. Soap operas grew organically out of me blatantly lying about my evening activities. Kids, were like, well if Sr can date Angelina Jolie, *I* can kiss Dave Franco. For soap opera details, read this. Soap operas have two parts: creating the story, and (once enough has been created to fill a page) printing it out and reading it. Time: 1-80 minutes, depending on class and energy.
7. Monday? Do selfies ‘n’ stuffies! Time: 10-15 min.
8. Birthdays. If you are organised, look ahead and– if it’s OK with the kid in question; know your audience– celebrate Birthday person’s special day. I play on mando and sing “Cumpleaños Feliz” on the mando and ask questions like how old is Hafsa? is she 14 or 15? Who is older: Hafsa or Señor Stolz? Hafsa, are you having a birthday party/dinner?
Note: we don’t do everything every day. Here is how you might organise it. The missing kid gets done only when somebody is away. Weather I do daily at the start of the course and less as time goes on.
Mon: weather, selfies ‘n’ stuffies or what did you do yesterday?
Tues: what did you do yesterday?, news.
Wed: weather, news.
Thurs: soap operas, what did you do yesterday?
Fri: news, weekend plans, assign selfies ‘n stuffies
If you like using class jobs, you can add “the newspaper reporter” and “soap opera writer” to the list. This person’s job every class is to write (in the class notebook) the sentence or two you put on the board for the soap opera and for the news. This will focus the kid(s) in question, and allow you to remember which block talked about what last class.
Anyway, the aims with the intro routine are to
- keep all language 100% comprehensible
- introduce a variety of grammar and vocab incrementally
- tailor language to student interests
- recycle things daily whilst avoiding themes or topics
- unshelter grammar
- build community indirectly