Beginning a lesson has always been one of the most difficult parts of teaching for me. A lot of questions pop up in my mind just before the lesson starts. How should I enter the class? Should I have a short warm up activity or a short chat about what my students did at the weekend? Should I revise some main points with a short activity or leave what was learned behind? Most of the time I want to do all af them not to jump into the course book. Because our policy lets students in till the 15th min. of the first lesson in the morning, we usually have only 30 minutes to have a real lesson. And usually this lesson is the most challenging one to motivate students to do something in their books. So, I try to activate them first.
Sometimes, I write a riddle on the board for them to figure out its answer. This engages students while the time for late comers is over and they also adapt to the environment where they need to change the language they speak.
Another way I begin a lesson is asking them a couple of questions about their holiday, writing down some question phrases on the board depending on their level and then having them in pairs or in small groups to have a similar conversation about their holiday or on another topic which they want to talk. Without asking them some example questions, these short chat periods are usually more unlikely to be successful since they find it difficult to generate questions when they are sleepy.
I have also tried giving each student a piece of paper to write down an adjective describing how he feels or starting with the first letter of his name. After the first version, collected them all to make sure their feelings will be anonymous and read them to the whole class. Most of them were negative and we talked about why they felt so negative and what we could do to change that. In the second version, they put the post-its on which the adjectives beginning with the first letter of their name and describing their personality on the walls. Then, they walked around, chose someone else’s adjective and tried to guess who he could belong to.
Another way is a good way of practicing word phrases and pairing students. I split some word phrases into two and mix them all. I distribute these words to the students and they find the other word to make an acceptable word phrase. At the end of this activity, they sit together and be partners for this lesson. This can also be done by separating recently learned words into two to review them.
There are a lot of ways beginning a lesson without drowning in our course books from the beginning of the class. Sometimes we have to follow course books whether we like it or not but it is also possible to integrate some fun into them, too.
If you have any different ideas about beginning a lesson, I will be happy to hear about them.